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7 Surprising Benefits of Reading 20 Minutes a Day

Plus tips on how, when, and what

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • May 21, 2024

Reading is more than just good entertainment. Research has shown that it's actually good for us, improving not only our minds, but also our health. It even makes us nicer people! This is true at any age, but it's particularly important for kids. And it doesn't take long to reap the benefits. Reading just twenty minutes a day has been shown to have a tremendous impact. Helping our youngsters develop this habit can also help adults incorporate more reading time into their lives.

Here, we go over the transformative effects of reading just twenty minutes a day. Plus, we share tips on how to make the time and book recommendations for everyone. 

1. Improved vocabulary

People who read twenty minutes a day are exposed to an estimated 1.8 million words each year, enriching your vocabulary. At any age, improving our vocabulary leads to even more benefits. For kids and adults alike, vocabulary development will lead to improved communication and writing skills.

2. Relief from stress

Anxiety is on the rise for everyone these days, but it has become especially prevalent in children and teens. Studies have shown that reading every day significantly reduces anxiety and stress, which leads to all sorts of improvements in our health.

3. Boost mental health

Just like the muscles in our bodies, our brain needs exercise to stay strong. Research using MRI scans has shown that reading improves our brain function. Just think of reading as your daily brain workout. 

4. Build empathy

Reading stories about all walks of life helps us to understand where other people are coming from. Gaining knowledge about other cultures, lifestyles, and circumstances allow us to put ourselves in another person's shoes. Studies have shown that readers of literary fiction have greater ability to empathize with others, leading to more friends, stronger relationships, and a happier life.

5. Strengthen critical thinking

Just as reading can make us more understanding of others, it can also help us learn how to ask important questions and gain a better understanding of, well, everything. Reading twenty minutes a day has been shown to improve analytical skills, leading to greater success in all areas of life.

6. Improve your sleep

Doctors recommend reading as part of a healthy bedtime routine because, as previously mentioned, it reduces stress in our bodies. It also helps calm our minds and alleviate insomnia. Turn off your screen twenty minutes earlier and put a book in front of your face instead. You'll fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.

7. Reduce mental decline

Studies have shown that reading slows the effects of mental deterioration in older adults. Again, this can be thought of in the same way as exercise for our brains. As we age, our brains need stimulation and strength-building activities like reading to stay sharp and agile.

7 tips for how to make the time!

  • Print our free Read & Color Summer Reading Tracker: Great for any age, this lively sheet offers a fun way to track your reading accomplishments.
  • Schedule time to read: Just as you schedule workouts and social engagements, set time aside for reading.
  • Put your devices away: When you're reading, put your phone somewhere away from you so that you won't be distracted by alerts.
  • Read while you eat: If you're eating alone, you might as well keep yourself company with a book. Some families even institute regular reading dinners once or twice a week.
  • Keep a book on hand: If you keep a book nearby or carry it with you, you can read when you find yourself with a few minutes to spare between this and that.
  • Take reading breaks: To stay effective, we all need breaks from focused activities like working or studying. Take a five-minute reading break every hour.
  • Make a TBR (to-be-read) list: Don't find yourself wondering what to read next whenever you finish a book. When you hear about books you might enjoy, use our Wish List feature to create a TBR list.

Start your TBR list!

7 classics for kids

Making this list of some of our childhood favorites sent us all into fits of nostalgia. It may be time for a few rereads. BTW, these would all make great read-alouds for the whole family.

7 best sellers for kids and young adults

These are some of the titles flying off shelves right now.

7 hot new releases for adults

These are the books we'll be throwing in our beach bags and suggesting for our backyard book club meetings.

We hope this guide helps you get more reading into your life this summer and beyond. Please let us know in the comments if you have anything to add!

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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