From engaging your child’s brain, enhancing vocabulary and comprehension, to improving cognitive flexibility, learn how reading increases your child’s attention span

As parents, we know that reading is vital to our child or children’s development.

Whether we’re reading to them, reading with them, or if they’re simply reading to themselves, the act of reading is power-packed with a bunch of important benefits.

Reading helps us bond with our children, boosts their brain development, improves their listening skills, and even helps us teach them important life lessons.

Learn about more Benefits of Reading on our blog…

But what really makes reading a superpower is its ability to help Increase a child’s attention span.

Why is attention span important?

People often use ‘attention span’ and ‘concentration’ interchangeably, and while the two concepts are fairly similar (not to mention closely related), it’s important to distinguish between the two.


Concentration is the mental effort a person directs at the task or activity they are currently engaging with, while attention span refers to how long you’re able to concentrate on something.

And attention span (as well as the ability to increase it) is really important.

The academic world has extensively studied the roles of focus, concentration and attention span in a person’s academic (and general life) success. Two studies from 2011 indicate that one's ability to concentrate for longer periods of time (attention span) contributes to academic success, as well as leading to financially and physically healthier adults.  

As the world becomes ever increasingly connected (via laptops and computers, smartphones and tablets, as well as other smart devices that diminish our abilities to concentrate on things for extended periods of time, it becomes all the more important to nurture this in children from a young age.

How Reading Increases Attention Span

1. Reading Engages a Child’s Brain‍

When a child reads the child has to concentrate and focus on what they’re reading. It requires them to actively engage with the material to understand what they’re reading, and process the information they’re taking in. 

Over time, as they flex and grow this muscle their ability to increase the time they’re able to concentrate and focus increases.

2. Reading Teaches a Child How to Handle Distractions 

When a child reads a book so engrossing, that captivates their attention by engaging and immersing them in the text (obviously the right kinds of books), it naturally helps the child concentrate and focus. 

Over time the duration of time they’re able to do that increases, and often flows over into other areas of their lives. 

3. Reading Enhances a Child’s Vocabulary and Comprehension

Books more often than not introduce new words, pictures and concepts which encourages them to start thinking, imagining, and asking insightful questions. 

So reading helps a child want to focus on what they’re reading and understand the information they’re reading. This in turn helps them engage and focus on the book, which can aid in building a longer attention span.

4. Reading Improves Cognitive Flexibility

Reading engages different parts of our brains. So when a child reads, there are many different processes going on - pretty much all at once. A child visualises what they’re reading, make inferences and critically ask questions to help them understand what they’re reading.

Cognitive flexibility is a result of this jumping around between brain processes and the more a child reads, the more jumping their brain does, the more cognitive flexibility they develop.

5. Your Child’s Brain is (Literally) Evolving While They’re Reading

When your child reads something containing new information, new neural pathways and connections are created, this in turn improves their cognitive skills.

Over time, the more they read, the more pathways and connects are created, thereby improving their ability to concentrate for longer. 

6. Reading Makes for Patient Conversationalists

The longer the book, the more patience it requires to finish. This patience also builds into a child’s attention span. The longer someone is able to read without distraction, the more their attention span grows.

This patience and ability to take in large chunks of information spills over into other areas, and often makes people really great listeners. And a great listener makes for a great conversationalist.

As you can see, reading truly is a superpower, and so important in many aspects of our little ones’ development.

Also, learn more about how reading improves listening skills.

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