With mental health services being stretched to their limit in the last few years, and with more children reporting mental health difficulties than ever (1), there has been a real spotlight on accessible and successful solutions to tackle this rising problem- a problem that current services are struggling to manage alone.
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the need for alternative wellbeing interventions for children became glaringly obvious. In 2021, child and adolescent mental health referrals increased over 80% compared to 2019. (2)
So what can we do to support our children while health services are overwhelmed?
There are many answers, and one is reading.
The National Literacy Trust (3) recently reported that children who engage more with literacy and reading are up to 3x more likely to report better mental health that those children who don't read.
Reading can relax, ignite imaginations, as well as providing an escapism from the stressors and anxieties of daily life, all factors for promoting healthy wellbeing.
Books are also important for developing perspective, empathy and general literary skills essential for other areas of education, supporting all round emotional well-being and success.
For toddlers and younger children, reading together with parents, siblings, and at school is a great introduction to books. Whether that's reading to your child or encouraging them to read out loud, introducing them to reading regularly at an early age can reap some great rewards.
For older children, promoting joining a library, and providing books they enjoy at home and in school are vital to create engaged, habitual readers.
In a post pandemic world, the need for remote wellbeing solutions are increasing. There are other modern interventions that have followed a similar thought-path; virtual reality, online therapies and meditation/wellbeing apps- but reading is a form of therapy that has been used since Ancient Greece up to the modern day.
Reading has no waiting list, a low cost, and is accessible to almost every child. Encouraging your child to read for just 10 minutes a day could have a huge boost for their wellbeing- whether that be at school, at home, or at a library.
Find out more about the benefits of reading a little every day here.