When you first discover the wonders of Ramona Quimby or the magical worlds of Narnia at a young age, you aren’t exactly thinking about how reading all these stories is going to give you the edge over your peers. You’re pretty much just completely taken with the lives, loves, and adventures of the likes of Tuck Everlasting, or using the Animorphs series to fuel your own adventurous fantasies. But it turns out that while you were imagining yourself as Ender’s co-pilot, you were actually gaining some pretty dope skills and experiences that would give you some advantages later in life.
We all tend to believe that people who read are major smarties, and it turns out that lots of scientific studies prove that this common belief is actually true. But aside from just making your brain all superhero smart, reading has a bunch of other advantages too. And for those kids whose book love starts young, you get all sorts of advantages over the late reading bloomers too. There’s plenty of science to point out the intellectual and developmental boons for kids whose parents read to them at a young age, but there are other advantages too, like getting to claim Meg Murray as one of your earliest childhood friends. Or, like these other amazing benefits...
Your Vocabulary Is Verily Prodigious
Your childhood dictionary is tattered and worn from all the attention you gave it as you pored through every Charles Dickens book you could find. And now you’re seeing the benefits. Like, you can probably shut down an obnoxious catcall with a coherent sentence made of exclusively four-syllable words. A totally useful skill.
You Learned Early On What Not To Do From Your Favorite Literary Heroes’ Examples
Sometimes your favorite literary heroes are sort of like big siblings. They make the big, life-altering mistakes (the type of big mistakes they get to be the subjects of novels for), and from their example, you learn a thing or two about what not to do. You know, like, next time you find a magic journal that talks back to you, you might just take it straight to your all-powerful headmaster. Not sure what to do about that bully at school? There's a book (or nine) for that, and you've probably read them all.
You Get To Skip Whole Books In Your College Lit Class Because You’ve Already Read Them
You might not remember have gotten all of the morals and symbolism in the Island of Dr. Moreau when you first read it age 11, but you probably have enough to write a five-page essay on it. And with all that homework you have, you’ll need every advantage you can get.
You Adapt A Solid DGAF Attitude Early On
Remember how being the bookish kid was so not cool in grade school? The young book lovers out there know that having a book glued to your hand didn’t exactly make you the queen of the school, and sometimes even just earned you downright ridicule. But when you’re that into books and all the heroines in all the books you’re reading aren’t afraid of being themselves, you quickly learn to raise an eyebrow at the haters and just keep reading.
You Actually Really Do Get Smarter Faster
And not just in literacy. According to a the British Cohort Study, kids who read for pleasure at a young age tend to test better than their peers in all sorts of subjects... yes, including math.
You Know What You Like
When you start reading at a young age, you don’t have all of those prejudices against different genres and such. Heck, you probably hardly know what the different genres are. You just know you like books and you’ll read just about any of them. As you get older, you’ll have read a bunch of different kinds of books, and you’ll have a solid idea about what you like and zero time for all that haterade about genres like romance and sci-fi that people have just 'cause it's trendy.
Rereading All Those YA Books Is A Whole Different Experience
You are one of those readers who actually read all those popular YA books when you actually were a YA. Reading Harriet the Spy at age 10 is way different from reading Harriet the Spy for fun at age 24. So, when you decide to revisit your childhood favorites, the experience you have is full of a nostalgia and wild recognition that you just don’t get when you never read Harriet the Spy as a kid and spent your subsequent year at school practicing your budding spy skills.
You Got To Read MORE BOOKS
Aside from those awesome late blooming readers who make up for lost time by reading 1,000 books a year or whatever, you’ve got a decade’s worth more books under your belt than the average person. So you’re just that much closer to your life goal of reading every book in existence than the average person.
You’re Better At People
It’s hard to doubt that reading about people who are vastly different than you — in culture, world experiences, religion, geographical upbringing, all the myriad ways that a person can be different from you, would make you — would make you at least a little more open-minded, aware, and empathetic to the different perspectives of the world. Reading about people, in short, just might make you better at understanding and interacting with different people, and the sooner you start... There are even some some studies that support the idea!
Images: Giphy (9); tamakisono/Flickr