By Robin Smith, Executive Director
At Excellence Baby Academy, we relentlessly promote reading to children because it fosters parent-child attachment and bonding, growth in every developmental domain (even gross motor skills as your child goes through the book throwing stage), a lifelong love of reading, and success in school and in life. We now know that reading promotes yet another benefit which is to help you and your children live longer.
Like a healthy diet and exercise, book reading appears to promote a “significant survival advantage” according to the authors of a recent study by researchers at Yale University’s School of Public Health published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.
These researchers studied 3,635 subjects, all older than 50, who were divided into three groups: those who did not read books, those who read up to 3.5 hours a week, and those who read more than 3.5 hours a week. Controlling for gender (women tend to read more books), education, and income as well as age, race, health, employment, and marital status, the researchers determined that people who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17 percent more likely to live over the study’s 12-year follow up period than those who did not read. Those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23 percent more likely to live.
“People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read,” said the senior author, Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale, in a New York Times post. Among those who read newspapers and periodicals, the study found a similar but weaker association.
Reading is the gift that keeps on giving. According to Keith Oatley, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Toronto, a novelist, and the author of a review in the Journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, not only can book reading help you live longer, but it can also help you live better.
Upon reviewing a decade of research
on the subject, Dr. Oatley, concluded that empathy and theory of mind (the ability to imagine what might be going on in someone else’s head) improves by engaging with stories about other people. You can read more about this in The Washington Post article “Does reading fiction make you a better person?“ while increasing your lifespan.