Headline Illustration: Iya Abdulkarim

As you fell asleep as a child, you may have listened to the soothing words of Goodnight Moon, the children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown. It was just a calming way to help you go to sleep as a child. But now, listening to stories and reading books has impacted the way that you learn and comprehend. The concept of reading and writing is taught right as you walk into kindergarten and see the alphabet hanging on the wall. From then on, reading becomes a crucial part of education, those letters soon forming words, sentences, paragraphs, and essays. In fact, the Educational Testing Services finds that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores.

For junior Naya Tadavarthy, reading has been a staple in life since she was very young.

“I taught myself how to read during the summer between kindergarten and first grade, and then I guess I could just read from then on,” Tadavarthy said.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, starting to read at a young age has proven to benefit children as they grow into more difficult tasks that use their reading abilities. A study found that at a young age, a new part of the brain begins to develop which focuses on understanding meanings and concepts of words and also memory. The hippocampus becomes much stronger for children who live in reading-friendly homes, according the study done at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

When I was a young child I went to a Montessori school which meant we could choose what we wanted to do, so usually during the second half of the day I would go sit in the corner and read for about three hours. That was basically my childhood.”

— senior Coleman Thompson

As children get older, their knowledge of concepts and words are put to work on tests such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

“When you take an SAT test on grammar you can read through it, and if you read more it is easier to just tell what sounds wrong and what sounds right even if you don’t know the actual grammar rules,” Tadavarthy said.

Many children who are taught to read at a young age are able to develop a strong vocabulary. This was the case for senior Coleman Thompson.

I probably at around two or three years old,” Thompson said.

“When I was a young child I went to a Montessori school which meant we could choose what we wanted to do, so usually during the second half of the day I would go sit in the corner and read for about three hours. That was basically my childhood. I read books about space and dinosaurs,” he said.

According to research done at Edinburgh and King’s College, children who have a higher than average reading level from age seven also have higher than average verbal reasoning in adolescence.

“The fact that I started reading early and I started really appreciating reading early was beneficial for my linguistic and verbal development,” Thompson said, “I picked up a really large vocabulary by the time I was ten years old.”

The vocabulary that students are able to grow and retain throughout school is not just helpful when writing their English essays. According to the Child Development Journal, reading teaches young children how to use their imagination, which also then helps with thinking abstractly and rationally in topics of mathematics, science, and logic. For Thompson, this showed most in debate.

“I have really benefited in Debate. In Debate, it is really important that your word choice and clarity and language because you need to express your ideas clearly and eloquently. Having a rich vocabulary really helped me with that,” Thompson said.

Even if a student didn’t begin reading at a very young age, there is no reason to be discouraged. Reading, regardless of age, has both emotional and mental benefits, including one of the most important for high-school students: writing skills. The importance of writing is greater with every passing day as written applications, stories, and blog posts gain attention. These skills are strongly positively impacted by to the writing of others through reading.