The benefits of reading books
Research has shown that an effective use of online resources and web–based information is dependent on an existing level of literacy1 — meaning that without an ability to read, online resources will have little positive effect on students or teachers. A series of studies conducted by the World Economic Forum between 1992 and 2017 found that comprehension of text was significantly higher when read in print versus digitally2. This is why KEY delivers books first, and then, only when the students and teachers are ready, installs online resources. This helps guard against a bombardment of information, and ensures users are fully capable of extracting and understanding how to best use the online tools provided.
Foster Critical Thinking
Reading literature has been shown in multiple studies to improve critical thinking skills, even when controlling for language proficiency3. Genres of fiction such as fairy tales and fantasy have been shown to help teach children the difference between right and wrong4, by tapping into their ability to use critical thinking.
Grow Empathy & Social Skills
Reading fiction has been shown to activate and fortify neural pathways in the brain that help in the understanding of real human emotions, effectively allowing readers of fiction to strengthen their social skills.5 This is seen especially with empathy, where multiple studies have shown that reading fiction enhances one’s ability to empathize with others and interpret social cues6, both being social skills critical in daily interactions and business. Studies have shown that children who read fiction score higher on empathy tests7 and have improved attitudes reduced stereotypes towards others8. Reading passages in stories about prejudice has also been demonstrated to improve attitudes towards all stigmatized groups amongst school-aged children9. Importantly, these effects have been shown to be sustained even three months after exposure to these stories (ibid).
Outperform & Reduce the Effects of Poverty
Reading for pleasure has been shown to produce students who academically outperform their peers across all subjects, including math, compared to those that don’t.10 In fact, reading alone has been shown to be a greater influence on the academic achievements of students than the education of their parents11, and access to reading books has also been shown to completely eliminate the negative effects that poverty can have on education12. A 20 year study conducted by the University of Nevada across four continents found that access to a collection of 500 books propelled a child 3.2 years further in their education, on average, than those without access, even if the parents were barely literate themselves13.
Support Strong Community Ties
A Pew study that was released in early 2014 suggested that library users tend to be pillars of their community with good ties to their neighbours and live positive lives14. Access to books, and the subsequent improvement in literacy, is a requisite to a thriving democracy. And as studies show, reading for pleasure produces academically superior, emotionally-intelligent students15. This is the perfect recipe for a thriving community, and an extraordinary country.
A study from Harvard found that a well–rounded education significantly reduced radicalization and recruitment by violent extremists16. As students learned to think critically, and were exposed to subjects and experiences outside their everyday life, they were less likely to indiscriminately accept extremist narratives – making it harder for these groups to radicalize and recruit then to their cause. Exposure to narratives has also been shown to reduce out-group hostility17 and reduce prejudice towards groups engaged in active conflict18. Importantly, using narratives and fiction as a tool for conflict alleviation and countering violent extremism is also low-risk and cost effective, making it a desirable intervention for regions focused on both improving education and reducing conflict. Aside from expanding a child’s worldview, education also helps provide a sense of normalcy and routine in an otherwise crisis situation for many of these at-risk populations.
FOOTNOTES 1 Moore, Penny. An Analysis of Information Literacy Education Worldwide. White Paper Prepared for UNESCO, the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and the National Forum on Information Literacy, for use at the Information Literacy Meeting of Experts, Prague, The Czech Republic 2 World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/students-learn-better-from-books-than-screens-according-to-a-new-study 3 Tung, Chi-An. Developing Critical Thinking Through Literature Reading. Feng Chia Journal of Humanities. 2009. Pp 287-317. 4 Docherty, Saoirse. 5 reasons why fairy tales are good for children. 5 June 2014. Web. 8 Nov. 2016. http://scottishbooktrust.com/blog/2014/06/5-reasons-why-fairy-tales-are-good-for-children. 5 Berns, Gregory S., Kristina Blaine, Michael J. Prietula, and Brandon E. Pye. Brain Connectivity: Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain. Rep. Department of Economics, Emory University. N.p., 9 Dec. 2013. Web. 2 Aug. 2016. 3(6): 590-600. doi:10.1089/brain.2013.0166. 6 Berns, Gregory S., Kristina Blaine, Michael J. Prietula, and Brandon E. Pye. Brain Connectivity: Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain. Rep. Department of Economics, Emory University. N.p., 9 Dec. 2013. Web. 2 Aug. 2016. 3(6): 590-600. doi:10.1089/brain.2013.0166. 7 Mar, Raymond et al (2009a). Exposure to Media and theory-of-mind development in preschoolers. Cognitive Development. 25(1). pp 69-78. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0885201409000835 8 Vezzali, L., Stathi, S., & Giovannini, D. (2012). Indirect contact through book reading: Improving adolescents’ attitudes and behavioral intentions toward immigrants. Psychology in the Schools, 49(2), 148-162. Available at: http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-01849-004 9 Vezzali, L., Stathi, S., Giovannini, D., Capozza, D., & Trifiletti, E. (2015). The greatest magic of Harry Potter: Reducing prejudice. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 45(2), 105-121 10 Docherty, Saoirse. 5 reasons why fairy tales are good for children. 5 June 2014. Web. 8 Nov. 2016. http://scottishbooktrust.com/blog/2014/06/5-reasons-why-fairy-tales-are-good-for-children. 11 Evans, M. D. R., et al. Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (2010), doi:10.1016/j.rssm.2010.01.002 12 Ibid 13 University of Nevada, Reno. “Books in home as important as parents’ education in determining children’s education level.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2010. 14 Zickuhr, Kathryn, Kristen Purcell, and Lee Rainie. “From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers–and beyond.” Pew Research Centre. N.p., 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 2 Aug. 2016 15 Borgonovi, Francesca. OECD: “Do Students Today Read for Pleasure?” PISA IN FOCUS (2011): http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/48624701.pdf 16 Martin-Rayo, Francisco. Countering Radicalization in Refugee Camps: How Education Can Help Defeat AQAP. Rep. Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs, The Dubai Initiative – Working Paper. N.p., June 2011. Web. 2 Aug. 2016 17 Bruneau EG, Cikara M, Saxe R (2015) Minding the Gap: Narrative Descriptions about Mental States Attenuate Parochial Empathy. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0140838. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0140838 18 Paluck, E (2009). Reducing Intergroup Prejudice and Conflict Using the Media: A Field Experiment in Rwanda. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 96(3). Pp 574-587. Available at: http://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2009-02415-005. (Accessed: 10/18/17).