Science Says Sunday – Reading and the brain

I started reading again…for fun! I forgot how amazing it feels to read a book and what it does to my vocabulary – both spoken and written – when I do. It occured to me that as many of us prepare to face an uncertain fall with school for our kids, one thing is for sure: Reading has amazing benefits for both adults and kids alike. So let’s see what the science says.

First and foremost, evidence from scientific studies suggest that there is a positive association between reading and our brain activity. Research also suggests that

  1. Sharing books together can help children’s language development and help with their reading skills.
  2. There is evidence of enhanced connectivity in the brain after reading, as evidenced by MRI.
  3. Reading involves several brain functions, eg visual and auditory processes, phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension.
  4. Reading every day can slow down late-life cognitive decline and keeps the brains healthier.

So in light of the fact that this fall is certain to require more episodes of social and physical distancing, requiring more time with our household members, consider picking up a book! Reading to the kids is one way to help yourself and help them. Don’t have kids? Read for fun here and there, even if you don’t have the stamina to read an entire book cover to cover in a matter of days.

I will tell you that my recent read was phenomenal! Untamed was such a great book. The ideas aren’t necessary novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed Glennon Doyle’s take on so many of the struggles we each face in our daily lives.

For the kids, I picked up The Diary of a Young Girl – by Anne Frank, and the entire Harry Potter series. I plan to read these to them during “reading time” the upcoming months.

A number of IGers recommened books I should read next. Perhaps you will find a good title for yourself among these!

  1. American Dirt
  2. Women who run with wolves
  3. The Great Believers
  4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  5. The Beauty in Breaking
  6. Invisible Woman by Caroline Criado-Perez
  7. In the time of Butterflies
  8. Next Year in Havana
  9. Where the Crawdads Sing
  10. The Vanishing Half
  11. The Friend Zone
  12. The City We Became
  13. The Book of Unknown Americans
  14. Waris Dirie’s Life Story
  15. Defending Jacob Vox
  16. My Dark Vanessa
  17. Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
  18. Finding Chika
  19. The Body Keeps Score
  20. Made to Stick
  21. Separated
  22. Fair Play
  23. Furious Hours
  24. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
  25. Evicted
  26. Educated
  27. Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club List
  28. Oprah’s Book Club List
  29. Barack Obama’s Book List


Robert S. Wilson PhD, Patricia A. Boyle PhD, Lei Yu, PhD, et al: “Life-span Cognitive Activity, Neuropathologic Burden, and Cognitive Aging.” Neurology, Vol. 81. 2013.

Prashanthi Vemuri, PhD, Elizabeth C. Mormino, PhD: “Cognitive Stimulating Activities to Keep Dementia at Bay.” Neurology, Vol 81. 2013

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