Culture and Health

Early-initiated childhood reading for pleasure

Associations with better cognitive performance, mental well-being and brain structure in young adolescence

The study investigated whether reading in childhood, a crucial period for neurodevelopment, correlates with assessments of cognition, mental health and brain structure in adolescence. A cross-sectional and longitudinal study was conducted in a large-scale US national cohort (10 000 + young adolescents). Early childhood RfP was found to be highly positively correlated with performance on cognitive tests and significantly negatively correlated with young adolescents' mental health problem scores. Participants with higher early RfP scores showed moderately larger total cerebral cortical areas and volumes. Early RfP was longitudinally associated with greater crystallised cognition and fewer attention symptoms at follow-up. Approximately 12 hours per week of regular RfP in young people was cognitively optimal. The results reveal the important relationships of early RfP with later brain and cognitive development and mental wellbeing.