Social impact of books and reading

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Book reading in general helps encourage people to actively participate in social events and activities, improving the world around them. People who read often are three times more likely to be involved with charity and volunteer work than non-readers.

 

Social impact of books and reading

Due to the growing importance of the internet in our everyday lives, books now have to compete with other technologies in the fight for our attention. However, social media trendsmovies, video games and streaming services are often inspired by books themselves.

  • Book reading in general helps encourage people to actively participate in social events and activities, improving the world around them.
  • People who read often are three times more likely to be involved with charity and volunteer work than non-readers.
  • Frequent readers are several times more likely to attend concerts and museums than non-frequent readers.
  • Adults who have lower levels of literacy are more likely to hold the belief that they have little impact on the political process.

Positive impacts of reading

It has been shown that reading books can develop stronger reading habits and improve literacy skills more efficiently than through formal education. The positive impacts of reading are significant, adding great value to society overall.

  • There is a positive correlation between households that contain books and the enjoyment of reading and self-confidence.
  • Reading alongside their parents is the favorite activity of 50% of children aged between 3 and 8 years old.
  • Reading for pleasure has more of an effect on a child’s cognitive development than their parents’ educational level.
  • Furthermore, reading for pleasure is a more accurate predictor of lifetime achievement for children than their socio-economic background.
  • Greater life satisfaction is reported 20% more often by adults who read for 30 minutes a week.
  • Reading books allows 19% of readers to alleviate feelings of loneliness. 

Impact of books on intelligence

Brain stimulation increases during the activity of reading, in an effect that can even last for multiple days. Although the benefits of the skill of reading can at times be overlooked, its impact on our mental abilities cannot be ignored. 

  • Higher general levels of intelligence have been observed in people that read from a young age compared to people that read less frequently.
  • The more books in the home, the more likely it is that children enjoy reading. 
  • 42% of children with less than 10 books in their homes do not like reading and 32% believe that they are very confident readers.
  • In contrast, 12% of children with more than 200 books in their homes do not like reading and 73% believe that they are very confident readers.
  • Reading books frequently at age 10 and more than once a week at age 16 helps young people achieve better math, vocabulary and spelling test scores.

Impact of books on employment

Increasing literacy rates helps people escape poverty and find employment, leading to improved physical and mental health. Furthermore, incomes per capita are higher in countries where a greater percentage of adults reach the upper levels of literacy proficiency.

  • “Soft” skills improved by reading (such as effective communication) are desired by 69% of employers.
  • Reading books for pleasure outside of school increases the likelihood of 16-year-olds earning professional or managerial roles later in life.
  • Book readers are less likely to be workaholics (22%) than non-readers (31%), suggesting they have a better work-life balance overall.

Reasons for / against reading books for adults in England

  • In total, reasons for reading books were given by 64% of respondents. 
  • Of these, escapism was the most popular reason for reading books, making up 21%.
  • Reasons against reading books were given by 16% of respondents. 
  • The most common reason for not reading books was a lack of time, making up 6%.
  • Uncategorized responses made up 20%.

Influential books on society

  • “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1852) by Harriet Beacher Stowe was credited for heavily influencing views on slavery in the US.
  • “Animal Farm” (1945) and “1984” (1949) by George Orwell have made a huge impact on readers’ political and governmental views.
  • “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1947) is considered to be one of the most important documentations of the Holocaust, with a lasting historical and literary impact on society.
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960) by Harper Lee was released at the peak of the civil rights movement, greatly impacting readers due to its commentary on discrimination and racism.
  • “Beloved” (1987) by Toni Morrison demonstrated to readers the need for society to develop and move forward from past oppression.

Impact of books on health

Books can also play a hugely positive part in our mental and physical well-being. The process of settling down to read, concentrate and contemplate narratives allow readers to enter a healthy state of flow.

  • Readers are 25% more likely to be healthy when compared to non-readers.
  • Depression sufferers are 28% more likely to be non-readers. 
  • Reading books requires cognitive stimulation, which reduces the risk of developing dementia.
  • Elderly people that read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Reading effect on stress

  • After reading for just half an hour, a person’s blood pressure and heart rate can be lowered. 
  • Students also find that their stress levels drop from just 30 minutes of reading.
  • On average, reading for 6 minutes can reduce stress levels by two-thirds.
  • When compared to going for a walk, listening to music or drinking tea, reading a book reduces stress more quickly and effectively (up to 68%).

Reading effect on mortality

  • Reduced mortality risks have been observed in people that read solitarily each day.
  • Readers who read for 3.5 hours a week are 23% more likely to live longer than those who don’t read frequently.
  • Readers live for around 2 years longer than those who don’t read.

Impact of comic books on society

Comic books have contributed to a rise in literacy and a love of reading around the world. In particular, the interest in reading for many children and young adults started with comics and led them to begin reading more advanced literature.

  • As of 2023, the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” (based on comic books) is the highest-grossing movie franchise worldwide, generating $28.62 billion through 45 films.
  • Roy Lichtenstein created “Whaam!” (1963), a work of modern art inspired by two frames of a comic book. 
  • Noted as one of the best-known pop artworks, the painting is valued at over $100 million and is housed in the Tate Modern in London.
  • “Maus” (1991) by Art Spiegelman is a comic that shows a visual representation of his father’s holocaust survival.
  • The following year, it became the first graphic novel to even win a Pulitzer Prize.
  • The 2002 movie “Road to Perdition” was based originally on a comic book, much to the surprise of many within its global audience.
  • The film grossed over $181 million worldwide.

Impact of books on society FAQ

Why do books impact society?

  • Whether fiction or nonfiction, books can influence society in a number of different ways. 
  • Readers can identify with characters within fiction books, learn to see problems from different perspectives and develop their emotional intelligence.
  • Nonfiction books allow readers to gain a better understanding of factual information and increase their overall understanding of specific topics.

What impacts do books have on society?

  • On an educational level, books enable people to increase their level of literacy and develop new skills.
  • Books of all formats are necessary in order to facilitate learning and education.
  • On a societal level, books enable people to gain a better overall understanding of specific topics, stimulating new thoughts and ideas in the reader which can lead to understanding and action.

 

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