Why do you read?

I often ask this question when I go into schools to talk about the point of reading for pleasure. Recently, the Learning Resource Manager (librarian) at Belmont Community School, Sophia Leggett, asked that question of Y7 students and staff in her school.

Sophia said, “As part of their introductory lesson to the LRC and their reading lessons, we did a number of activities to encourage our Y7s to think and talk about the benefits of reading. We then asked them to pick 3 benefits they wanted to get out of reading throughout the year.”

This, with her permission, was their response! Because it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I’m highlighting in red the answers that have a direct bearing on mental health and wellbeing (though actually they all do, indirectly.)

Y7 Why I read responses:

  • “To be a good dad when I’m older”
  • “To speak English well”
  • “I want to be smart”
  • “To relieve stress”
  • “To find new words”
  • “To widen my knowledge”
  • “I want to go on adventures every day, however I can’t. But reading makes it seem real”
  • “I read for knowledge so that I can learn new words and learn what to do in real-life situations”
  • “To change my mood if I’m sad”
  • “To escape somewhere where I may never go”
  • “To entertain me and make me happy”
  • “To be able to programme a story driven game”
  • “So I’m able to process a story I’ve made myself”
  • “It lets you escape everything going on”
  • “To learn things about dinosaurs”
  • “It’s fun (if it’s a book you enjoy!)”
  • “To escape to another world”
  • “To see other people’s perspective”
  • “To learn new facts”
  • “To expand my vocabulary”
  • “To improve my writing”
  • “To help me in life”
  • “To enjoy myself”
  • “Excitement”
  • “To make money”
  • “To know things for my older life when I get a job”
  • “To read something that will never happen”
  • “For fun!”
  • “I want to be calm”
  • “To be inspired”
  • “To see the world from a different point of view”
  • “Help to read better”
  • “ I read to make me happy”
  • “To let go of stress”
  • “To learn new words and phrases”
  • “To discover new possibilities”
  • “To write my own book”
  • “To not be depressed”
  • “To find out more words I don’t know”
  • “To help me read instructions”
  • “To make me read more”
  • “It will make me more empathetic and to make me understand people more”
  • “I want to read to widen knowledge”
  • “I want to read to learn about people’s lives”
  • “I want to read to get to know about the world”
  • “I want to read to become a writer”
  • “To read faster”
  • “To learn more”
  • “So I can get to do more things”
  • “So I can get better”
  • “Because I like it”
  • “To help with my spelling and vocabulary”
  • “I want reading to help me with spelling”
  • “To make me laugh”
  • “It helps me sleep”
  • “To learn new things”
  • “To learn to become a more independent reader”
  • “I read for pleasure”
  • “I read for fun”
  • “Read to relax”
  • “To have more self esteem”
  • “To learn not only to read better but to learn to be calm”
  • “To be capable to do different things”
  • “Because I’m determined to finish the book”
  • “To make me more confident”
  • “ I would like to be able to read what I’m thinking so I can related to the book.”
  • “I want to make new friends (similar likings to the same book”
  • “I would like to read for pleasure and have some ‘me’ time”
  • “I want a wider range of vocabulary that I can use in my own work”

Staff Responses

  • “To learn: I love learning about anything” – Mr Marsden, Headteacher
  • “To experience things which would otherwise not be possible” – Mrs Baldwin, English
  • “To relax, to escape and to learn new words hopefully!” – Mr McMahon, Modern Foreign Languages
  • “To develop my understanding” – Mr Graham, IT Support
  • “To relax and because I enjoy it”- Mrs Carney, Art
  • “To relax and escape” Mrs Pharoah, Student Support
  • “To help unwind at the end of the day and continue to expand my vocabulary” – Mrs Laverick, Business & Health and Social Care
  • “I read for entertainment and pleasure. I also read to escape and relax.” – Mrs Joannadies, English
  • “To escape the everyday and discover new things” – Mrs Hancock, Science
  • “Because I don’t have a time machine. But can travel to the past, the future and all around the world and see things through another’s eyes through the pages of a book.” – Mrs Warr, English
  • “To be entertained, to learn and to relax.” – Mr Mortimer, SLT & Maths
  • “Helps develop my critical thinking skills.” – Mrs Sayers , Inclusion
  • “I read because I love the feel of a book in my hands. I read to escape, to relax, to discover something new, to learn. Its what I do; I’m a reader and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t, or imagine a time when I won’t be.” – Mrs France, Learning Support
  • “To escape reality and relieve stress. “ – Ms Burton , Deputy Head & English
  • “To transport me from the mundane details of everyday life like the washing up and to take me instead to a world of excitement, drama, intrigue and passion.” – Mrs Duarte, Assistant Head & English
  • “Reading can take me anywhere at any time. It lets me see and do things beyond imagination and live in another time and place. It can amuse, inform, frustrate, annoy and entertain in equal measure, and it’s all there when I want it.” – Mr Hall, Technology
  • “To travel around the world and across time and space whilst sitting in my favourite chair!” Mr Wood, Maths
  • “To escape from the real world for a little while, and because I love stories!” – Ms Leggett, Librarian
  • “To broaden my knowledge and for enrichment, enjoyment and escapism.” – Mrs Ryder, Science
  • “I read to escape reality and to be transported to vibrant, strange or frightening new places in the past, present or future; to meet intriguing new people and to experience a range of emotions: joy, fear, hilarity, rage, shock, contempt, empathy and admiration.” – Mrs Cowie, English & Whole School Literacy Co-Ordinator

Just wow! Huge thanks to Ms Leggett and her Y7s and all her colleagues. I know this is a reading school, as I’ve had lots of interaction with them before.

To see how to use this exercise in practice – and this would work equally well for parents in a home setting, not just in school – see here. And for a handout you can use, this: MY HOLIDAY READING FOR PLEASURE PLEDGE.

For parents wondering what to do with your children and teenagers right now, if it’s as sunny with you as it is with me, send them outside to sit under a shady tree with a book; if it’s not sunny, let them curl up somewhere cosy. Put your phones and devices away – that’s you, adults! – and just dive into a book. There’s nothing better for you, for you now and for your future mind.

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