For years people have pondered the importance of reading for pleasure, both as a student and as an adult. Especially in this day and age of technology, the value placed on reading a novel seems to have lessened. There are just so many other things to do with one’s time.

I might be a little bias on this subject as an avid reader and also an author, but I believe reading is important for a variety of reasons. Obviously it is a source of pleasure and it stimulates the imagination. As much as you might’ve rolled your eyes every time you heard the “reading makes you smarter” rant from every adult ever, they’re actually right. Just maybe not in the way that you’d expect.

Reading puts things in a different context, whether it be Munchausen syndrome, taxonomies or the suffrage movement. Yeah, I read a lot of books.

But it doesn’t just make you more intelligent about particular topics that were covered in the latest spy thriller, it teaches your brain to remember things – big things, little things, obscure things. Facts you heard mentioned by a teacher once come to life as you read the latest historical fiction novel. Maybe a character’s passing mention of a recently elected president, the name of an artist or a fact that you forgot about triggers memories of articles, research and learning from years before. It is all data for your brain, to be stored and retrieved at a later date.

According to the Society for Research in Child Development, a recent study revealed that early reading skill might positively affect later intellectual abilities. Mothers who begin reading to their children at a very early age have toddlers with greater language comprehension, larger, more expressive vocabularies and higher cognitive scores by the age of 2. Reading and improved vocabulary lead to more language opportunities and competencies for children.

We have established that if you read, your comprehension and intelligence can be improved. It is important to realize that struggling with vital reading skills is not a sign of low intelligence. Many highly intelligent people have struggled with reading; although, when properly taught, most people can learn to read easily and quickly.

If you are a student, even an adult student, and you want to pass a hard class, read. And not just your textbook. Books entertain you while they teach you, so it doesn’t actually feel like you’re learning. Reading is knowledge, but subtle knowledge that’s an added bonus to the story you’re already enjoying. Couldn’t we all use more of that?

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.