Does reading paper books make you smarter? A recent study says yes!
All reading is good for your brain, especially at a young age, but reading a physical book has the most benefits. When tested for proficiency, students who read paper books scored about 2.5 years ahead of those who didn’t read at all, while students reading digitally scored a little less than a year ahead of those who didn’t read.
The difference of more than a year and a half between digital readers and paper readers is astonishing. Many previous studies have shown that reading comprehension is better when reading paper books compared to reading digitally, but this new study confirms the long term benefits for consistent readers.
Even in places where digital reading has become more popular than paper books, students who read paper books show better comprehension of the material they’ve read.
This has been seen from adults and from children who are still being read to; Printed books result in better comprehension of the material.
Along with the obvious benefit of understanding what you’ve read, reading on paper books means fewer distractions. Digital reading exposes people to many alternatives to reading, like games or videos. Paper books keep readers focused, and the lack of blue light prevents any harm to readers’ eyes.
Paper books can also help with sleep. The brain activity that comes with reading helps the brain to wind down, and a paper book avoids the blue light that may interfere with the circadian rhythm, which controls the sleep-wake cycle in a human body.
Unsurprisingly, people who have more books at home tend to be higher academic achievers. Children with lots of books at home are not only encouraged to read, but to share what they read with their parents. This leads to a great habit of reading to learn, then asking questions to supplement what they have just learned. This leads to engaged learning and better comprehension and achievement in the classroom.
Students who are disadvantaged have been able to benefit from digital books, especially as the internet continues to become more accessible. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for paper books. Physical copies of books are not only more expensive than digital books, but sometimes harder to find, which can make paper books less accessible to some communities. Fortunately, digital reading and reading physical books both have incredible benefits for anyone who reads.
While paper books have some great benefits, there is no disputing that digital reading is much better than not reading at all. The next time a friend recommends a book, consider adding it to your physical library, rather than your digital one. Regardless of how you choose to read, know that any book is better than none.1