Reading for pleasure can increase people's empathy and improve their wellbeing throughout life, according to new research from the Reading Agency.
The organisation's new study, undertaken by BOP Consulting and funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation, adds to a growing body of evidence attesting to the ability of reading for pleasure to lead to a range of benefits for individuals and society as a whole.
It reveals a range of positive outcomes for people of all ages, including improved social capital for children, young people and the general adult population, as well as better parent-child communication and reduction of depression and dementia symptoms among adults.
However, if these benefits are to be realised to their full extent, people must enjoy reading in their spare time.
Entitled 'The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment', the report surveyed research into the effects of reading for pleasure on people of a range of age groups and requirements.
Reading levels in the UK are low across all age groups, with most children not reading on a daily basis and almost a third of adults not reading for pleasure.
The report is part of a broader project to create a robust reading outcomes framework that will help charities, public libraries and education organisations evaluate the impact of their work.
Author Philip Pullman, who is president of the Society of Authors, one of the organisations involved in the project, said: "I agree wholeheartedly with what this report is saying about the importance of reading for pleasure.
"When I write a story I hope to beguile, to enchant, to bewitch, to perform an act of magic on and with my readers' imaginations."
Posted by Tim Colman