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Q: My son simply hates reading. He is on grade level and has no problem reading, but he just doesn’t see the point. I personally really enjoy reading and so does my husband. He always asks me, “What is it good for?” I try to tell him all sorts of things, but I figured I would also ask you. What’s reading good for?



A: Ah, this is not an easy question to answer – especially depending on your son’s age. The benefits of reading are multiple, but might be hard for a child to understand. Either way, here are some of the ways that reading can improve your life:

  • Brain exercise. Reading keeps your brain in an active state. Instead of passively listening to those around you or exercising physical muscles, reading gets your mind working and your productive juices flowing. Research shows that people who exercise their brains through reading, crossword puzzles, or playing a musical instrument have a lesser chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
  • Expanded knowledge and vocabulary. Reading is one of the best ways to expand your knowledge and word base. This not only helps you do better in all subjects in school, it also helps you speak more intelligently on a day-to-day basis. Aside from career opportunities available to those who appear more intellectual and refined, people enjoy being around those they feel they can learn from.
  • Boost creativity. The human brain requires connections in order to function at its maximum capacity. When you read, you create new “velcro” onto which information can get stuck. In other words, the more you know, the more you will later learn. This is perfectly demonstrated when after you learn a new word, that word immediately pops up in multiple situations. With so many connections made from reading, you will be better able to access creative solutions in the future.
  • Empathy. Recent studies have shown that children and adults who read fiction are better able to empathize with people in life. Perhaps exploring the emotional lives of others allows the reader to “step into the shoes” of the real people they interact with daily.


Depending on your son’s age, he may not be able to comprehend the importance of these benefits. However, as a reader yourself, I am sure you see these advantages play out in your daily life. Therefore, try to explain the multiple benefits of reading to your son – but most importantly – show him the role of reading in your own life. Let him see you reading in the living room, talk to him about the interesting points in your book, and fill your shelves with books in all subject areas.

While he might not see the value for himself, as a reading role model, you can show him that reading has value for you. This is perhaps the best way to teach him the significance of reading. Then, when he finds the right books, he will be ready to gain all of the benefits that reading offers.


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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at [email protected].