8 Science-Based Facts On How Reading Makes You Smarter (2022)

We all know reading helps make you smarter. For as long as we can remember, we’ve been told this by our parents and teachers. We even tell our kids that they’ll be smarter if they read more. But, is there science that backs up these claims, or are we just continuing to pass on myths we were told growing up?

Science suggests that reading does, in fact, make you smarter (good thing we listened to our parents and teachers!). Now that you’re a parent, keep reading to be enlightened on all of the ways reading helps us become smarter. Now, when your kids question this statement, you’ll have the science to back it up.

Who Benefits From Reading?

Everyone benefits from reading! No matter if you’re a baby or 105 years old, you’ll benefit from reading. Reading can teach you things, give you a different perspective on life, and give you more empathy for others as well.

There are more benefits of reading than just helping you become smarter. There are also the benefits of reading together. When your kids are young, reading stories can help them learn new things and can help strengthen your bond with one another. Reading can also strengthen the bond between your little ones and their loved ones. 

What Are 8 Reasons Reading Makes You Smarter?

Reading isn’t just an enjoyable pastime, it’s also an activity that may help make you smarter. By helping your kids foster a love for reading, you’re setting them up for a life of learning. You can start reading to them the day they’re born! 

Including reading in your everyday routines may help kids continue to read throughout their lifetime. When they’re little, you can enjoy the time you spend together reading, and that time can morph into sharing books that you’re both interested in as they become teens and adults. 

Here are eight reasons reading makes the youngest to the oldest readers smarter. It’s never too late to start reading more and reaping the benefits of reading. 

Increases Intelligence

There are, quite literally, books on anything you want to learn about. Reading provides you with general knowledge of the subjects you’re reading. On Caribu, we have many books that are nonfiction. These books can help kids learn about new concepts. From history to science, and animals to baking, there is something for every kid (and adult) to learn on the Caribu app! 

The more you read about different subjects, the easier other concepts will be to understand. Is your little one interested in dolphins? The book The Dolphin Who Loved Games may be perfect for them. 

Your child can learn all about Peg and her love for playing a biologist studying the seagulls near her tank. With the knowledge gained from reading this book, they may be able to better understand what biologists do for a living, how dolphins live, and why seagulls are no longer allowed near dolphin tanks.

Improves Vocabulary And Verbal Skills

The more you read, the more words you see on a regular basis. This is especially true for young kids. Reading can increase their vocabulary, especially as they get into older grade levels. With a larger vocabulary, their verbal skills may naturally grow. 

For younger kids, while the vocabulary words may not be overly complicated, hearing new words through reading may help them when it comes to learning how to verbalize their needs. Helping kids build their vocabulary may also make reading a little easier in general. 

Gives Your Brain A Workout

Just like the muscles in your body, it’s important to work out your brain too. When you work out your brain, more connections are created within certain nodes. When you read, your brain will benefit from a mental workout without you even having to break a sweat! These connections are important because they may help you learn and adapt to new situations. 

For little ones, they’re still actively building these connections constantly. Adding reading to their day helps improve these connections. The more consistently you read to them, the more connections they may build, and the longer they may stay interested in reading.  

Sharpens Cognitive Skills

No matter your age, it’s always a good idea to sharpen your cognitive skills. Cognitive skills include learning, memory, and focus. Reading is a great way to improve all of these cognitive skills

For kids, cognitive skills are super important when they start school. By setting time aside to read together, you may be helping to improve their ability to learn, pay attention, and retain what they learn in school. 

Helps Relax

Did you know that one of the best things you can do when you’re learning new things is to prioritize sleep? Sleeping helps strengthen your memories and may help you to absorb what you learned through the day. 

Not only does reading help you learn new things when you read before bed, but it can also help you relax from your long day, allowing you to fall asleep easier. This is one reason why reading with your toddler is a great addition to their bedtime routine. 

Builds Empathy

It’s difficult to know exactly how other people feel, especially for kids. While kids start showing signs of empathy around the age of two, reading stories about other people and their feelings can help them become more empathetic. It has been shown that people who read fiction score higher on measures of empathy than people who don’t read. 

When you’re empathetic, it may help you to learn more about how other people in your community and around the world live. You may also be more willing to learn from others and their experiences, the more empathic you are. 

Develops Imagination

One of the best ways to develop imagination is through reading. When you read a story, you create the picture in your mind. The more you read, the more detail your imagination may have. Even when you read picture books to your kids, they can create a world out of the words you’re reading and the pictures on the pages. 

Can you remember reading a book with your caregiver as a child where the pages came to life? Kids have this amazing ability to use their imagination. Somewhere along the way, adults have a tendency to lose this ability. Get back to reading with your kids and the books that you enjoy too! You may be surprised by just how much your imagination comes back. 

Builds Bonds With Loved Once

While reading helps you increase your ability to learn and retain knowledge, it also brings you closer to the people you love. When kids sit down and read with their caregivers, it has been shown to create stronger bonds between them. Sure, that may not seem like a reason someone is smarter, but those bonds help kids learn to build loving and healthy relationships. 

As kids grow, having strong bonds with loved ones helps build their trust in the people around them and improves their self-esteem. Trust and self-esteem are important when kids are learning about the world around them. 

If your family lives too far for your little one to have storytime with them in the same room, don’t fret! They can give their aunt a Caribu video-call. Together, they can pick out a book—or a coloring sheet, activity, or game—and enjoy it together. Even though they aren’t in the same room, they’re still able to benefit from the bonding reading brings! 


Anyone can gain the amazing benefits that reading has to offer. You don’t have to read the most intellectual book out there to reap the benefits either. If you’re just getting back into reading, find books that interest you, not what is on the “must-have” lists. That goes for kids as well: let them pick out what they’re interested in. 

There are many scientific facts that prove reading makes you smarter. Reading helps increase your intelligence, it can improve your vocabulary, sharpen your cognitive skills, and work out your brain. It can also help you relax, build empathy, develop your imagination, and build bonds with the ones you love. Now, when you tell your kids reading makes them smarter, you have the science and support to back up your statement!

If you’re looking to help your little one foster a love for reading so they can get all of the benefits it has to offer, Caribu is perfect for you! We make reading fun, and it’s easy for your loved ones to join in too! 


Does reading make you smarter? Literacy and the development of verbal intelligence | PubMed

The Influence of Reading on Vocabulary Growth: A Case for a Matthew Effect | NCBI

Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain | NCBI

Reading and solving arithmetic problems improves cognitive functions of normal aged people: a randomized controlled study | NCBI

Association Between Reading Habit and Sleep Among Age Over 40 Years Community Residents: A Population-Based Evidence Study | NCBI

Reading Enhances Imagination | World Literacy Foundation

Reading fiction and reading minds: the role of simulation in the default network | NCBI

Libraries and Pediatricians Team Up to Improve Literacy and Health for Delaware’s Children  NCBI