As far as we’re concerned, there’s never been a better time to lose yourself in a book than right now! With your child spending more and more time on their digital devices for schoolwork, and most likely social media, it’s even more important to encourage them to read for fun as well. A survey of nearly 50,000 middle and high schoolers conducted prior to COVID-19 reported that one-third of the teens they surveyed no longer read books for pleasure. But there is hope! A study of K-12 student reading habits found that just six extra minutes of reading per day can turn a struggling reader into one who meets or surpasses their grade’s benchmark. And in the same study, they found that students who read 15 minutes or more per day were able to make accelerated reading gains. In celebration of National Book Month, we wanted to share a few more reasons for slowing down and encouraging everyone in your household to read something—just for fun. You could even consider this a family challenge to see who can read the most books through the end of the year. Or you might consider reading the same family book that your student selects. It can provide you with interesting fodder for family discussions, and they might enjoy the fact that everyone is reading the book they selected. 1) Reading expands vocabulary and can improve writing skills. The more we read, the more we expand our vocabulary, and this is particularly helpful for teen readers. Reading can help your student understand how different, more complex words are used within the context of a story or a paragraph. Reading can also benefit your student’s readiness for the verbal section of a college admission test, improving their comprehension and vocabulary skills. 2) Reading is good for the young (and the old!). A 2013 study found that both “early-life cognitive activity,” including activities like reading, and “late-life cognitive activity,” reduced cognitive decline by 14 percent. That means reading early in life and late in life can benefit your health and mental stamina. There’s no better time to build lifelong habits than in middle and high school. Encouraging your teen to find books they like and build time into their schedule to read can provide lifelong health benefits. 3) Reading can reduce stress. Okay, I’m not sure there has ever been a better time in life to consider new ways to reduce stress than right now – in the midst of a global pandemic. Reading could be the antidote, encouraging us to slow down and take a break from reality. A recent study found that reading can reduce stress by 68 percent – even more than listening to music, having a cup of tea, or taking a walk. And reading can help your student establish more meaningful connections with the material they are learning in history and social studies as they explore new places and characters in their books. Share what your family plans to read with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!