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The Power of Reading: Fostering Aspiration and Thinking Skills in Children


The Impact of Reading on Young Minds

As parents, one of our key aspirations is to nurture well-rounded, intelligent, aspirational and empathetic children. In the pursuit of this goal, the act of reading emerges as arguably the most influential tool at our disposal. Recent scientific studies have continually emphasised the multiple benefits of reading, especially in the context of developing critical and creative thinking skills and broadening a child's understanding of the world.


Reading and Critical Thinking: An Inseparable Link

Critical thinking, a cornerstone of successful problem-solving and decision-making, is greatly enhanced through reading. A study published in the International Journal of Educational Research found that children who engage in regular reading demonstrate improved analytical skills. When children read, they are not merely processing words; they are constantly questioning, making predictions, and drawing conclusions, thereby actively engaging in critical thinking (Sullivan & Brown, 2015). This engagement helps children to develop the ability to think logically and evaluate arguments, skills that are essential in today’s fast-paced, information-rich world. It is worth noting carefully that these are the same skills that are so necessary when they come to prepare for their secondary school interviews aged 11 and beyond.


Unleashing Creativity Through the World of Books

Reading is also a powerful catalyst for creativity. While critical thinking is about analysis and judgment, creativity involves imagination and innovation. According to a study in Creativity Research Journal, exposure to narrative fiction can enhance a child’s creativity due to the mental simulation and the cognitive flexibility required to understand and imagine the story’s setting, characters, and plot (Mar, Oatley, & Peterson, 2009). This immersion into different worlds and perspectives fosters an open-mindedness and imaginative capacity vital for creative thinking. Creative thinking  also plays an important role in developing our children’s independence and resilience.


Broadening Horizons and Understanding the World

Beyond developing thinking skills, also reading plays a crucial role in broadening a child’s understanding of the world. It exposes them to different cultures, ideas, and experiences, far beyond their immediate environment. A report by the National Literacy Trust highlights that children who read books frequently are more likely to have a better understanding of other cultures and show greater empathy (Clark & Rumbold, 2006). In an increasingly globalized world, this ability to understand and empathize with others is invaluable. This skill too is hugely. Important when the time comes for them to join a boarding environment in the UK and is something that will also form part of the school’s selection criteria at interview.


Practical Ways to Encourage Reading

To harness these benefits, it is crucial to cultivate a culture of reading or a habit of reading in the home. It is so important to begin these habits when children are young if at all possible. Here are a few practical ways to that might further encourage your children to read:


1. Create a Reading-friendly Environment

For younger children, designate a cozy corner in your home as a reading nook. Ensure it is well-lit, comfortable, and stocked with a variety of books. Even children who are not naturally drawn to Reading will find themselves attractive by the location and the variety of books on offer.

2. Lead by Example

we already know that parents are the biggest influence in their children’s habits and view of the world. Children emulate their parents. If you have time, let them see you read. Discuss books with them and share your excitement about reading.

3. Incorporate Reading into Daily Routines

Set aside a specific time for family reading. This could be a quiet reading hour or a bedtime story ritual.

4. Choose Diverse and Engaging Materials

Provide books that cater to your child’s interests while also introducing new genres and topics to broaden their horizons.

5. Encourage Discussion

After reading, engage your child in discussions about the book. Ask them what they think and feel about the story and characters.


Reading is something we champion at Academic Asia and it forms a critical element in the courses we run, whether that is our Interview Course, our Subject Tutoring Programme or ISEB Accelerator. Our aim is to develop academically strong, independent and intelligent students who can make the very best of the opportunities we present to them.

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References:

Sullivan, A., & Brown, M. (2015). Reading for pleasure and progress in vocabulary and mathematics. International Journal of Educational Research, 73, 89-102.

Mar, R. A., Oatley, K., & Peterson, J. B. (2009). Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: Ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes. Creativity Research Journal, 21(2-3), 171-178.

Clark, C., & Rumbold, K. (2006). Reading for Pleasure: A research overview. National Literacy Trust.

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