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#28 52 WAYS to WELL-BEING: Read for Pleasure

The Fundamentals of Readaxation. Illustration by Katherine Lynas.(For all the previous Ways to Well-Being put “52 Ways” in the search box at the top of this page. All these tips are equally useful and appropriate for all ages but written in a way that you can use in schools and families.)

We know that reading for pleasure has lots of benefits. The science is now robust and clear. Do go to the Reading Brain section of my website and check out the resources, which include links to the science, particularly the 2015 Reading Agency meta-study, which analysed hundreds of pieces of research from around the world.

Also see this article where I wrote about all the benefits.

The well-being effects are profound. Reading for pleasure is an activity that improves our self-esteem, relationships, mood and emotions, and stress levels.

It’s that last effect that most qualifies it to be a “way to well-being”. Some years ago, I invented the word readaxation, to refer to the stress-relieving properties.

Fundamentals of readaxation or reading for pleasure and wellbeingThe summer holidays are here (some of you have started and others not quite yet) and there’s no better time to make sure you devote plenty of time to reading for pleasure. I remember my summer holidays were times when I binge-read Enid Blyton and anything else that looked fun, easy, exciting, engaging. I read things that teachers probably thought were rubbish but my parents were teachers, too – and very ambitious for my brain to be fed with “intelligent” things – and it’s to their credit that they never suggested I should read something “better” or “more challenging”. They knew that reading is the key and they wanted me to love reading.

You won’t love reading if people keep criticising your reading choices.

So, you have my permission to binge-read whatever books you want this summer. When you get bored with one sort of book, try something else: that’s all I ask.

This week I’m visiting two schools in London where I know there are VERY keen readers – The London Oratory School and Haggerston School in Hackney. Expect pictures! I’m visiting them because they came first and second in my Ask Nicola Morgan competition. I’ll be bringing presents 🙂 Also, today I sent signed congratulations cards to some other keen readers from Fearnhill School.

So, don’t let anyone tell you young people don’t read. Some do and some don’t, just like adults.

But the ones who do are feeding their brains and boosting their well-being and success. Well done to them – and to you if you read for pleasure.

That’s #28 of my 52 Ways to Well-being. And I’ve got some more summer holiday-related ones coming up.

To all you school staff and students, have a wonderful summer and a well-earned break!

I’m currently re-reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles. What a wonderful book! Set in a heatwave, engaging, gripping, emotional, infuriating, shocking, astonishing and still important today. I confess that I had lost my reading mojo and I didn’t expect that this would be the book to get it back.

What are you reading? I’d love to know. Got any ideas for me?


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