Reading improves mental health


Bella Witter

According to the University of Sussex, reading can reduce stress levels by 68%, lower heart rate and relax muscles.

Bella Witter, Staff Writer

With tests to study for and extracurricular activities to attend, many students seek ways to relax and destress. According to the University of Sussex, reading can reduce stress levels by 68%, lower heart rate and relax muscles.

“There are all kinds of studies that show that reading helps you academically, increases your intelligence and memory, decreases stress and makes you a more empathetic person,” librarian Kristen Kemba said. “The first and most important benefit of reading is that reading is fun. People who have to read certain books for school don’t always realize this benefit, but when you get to choose a book that is interesting to you and speaks to you in some way, it can be a very profound and enjoyable experience.”

According to Reading Partners, reading increases people’s ability to be more empathetic. There is a greater impact on those who read more fiction books, since they allow the reader to visualize the characters. This encourages the reader’s imagination and creativity. Being able to submerge oneself in a good book can feel like being in another world, leaving the world behind to go on exciting adventures with the characters.

“As a reader, you have the ability to control what a character looks like,” junior Ruth Ann Jessee said. “What they are experiencing and the emotions they are feeling, as long as you stay in the parameters of what the author describes.“

As well as building imagination, reading can help vocabulary grow and can make the reader smarter. For example, if someone reads “Projekt 1065” they may add a couple of German phrases to their vocabulary. 

“Books can be wonderful sources of information, that can provide you with different perspectives and a deeper stretch of knowledge,” Jessee said. “I have been exploring non-fiction and other informational books. I have found that they provide me with a new perspective that I never really would have thought about. They also include a level of depth and allow you to take your learning as far as you want.”

Along with making the reader smarter, reading improves analytical thinking skills and memory.

Reading books helps the reader develop good morals. In a debate, Stanford scholars came to the conclusion that literature helps readers explore what it means to be an ethical human being in unfamiliar situations.

“I think that reading would also allow more and more people to develop good morals in their life,” Jessee said. ”Stories often have morals we can learn from, and identifying those morals, and learning the consequences of defying those morals will most likely encourage more and more people to follow them. By following one’s morals, we can improve ourselves as individuals and as communities.“

Also, reading informational works like news articles can improve writing skills. Seeing many types of writing styles can help the reader write better and create their own unique style. 

“Reading expands your vocabulary and makes you a better writer,” Kemba said. “Reading can change the way you look at the world and can quite literally change your life.” 


Here are some recommendations from Jessee, Kemba and the reading club.

  • “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart
  • “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • “The Girl with All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey
  • “The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Bradley
  • “We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide” by Carol Anderson