The name of our reading program can sometimes lead people to think that our main purpose is to offer external rewards for reading. In reality, Reading Rewards is first and foremost an interactive reading log site, packed full of features that have nothing to do with rewards. In fact, 60% of teachers registered with Reading Rewards never set up a single reward!

We believe that there is nothing wrong with giving reluctant readers a little extra encouragement to get them started on the path to reading success. But in the end, for many children, reading does become its own reward.

We wanted to know exactly what our young readers consider the benefits of reading, and so we threw them a challenge. We asked them to tell us how reading rewards them. Over the course of the contest, we were touched to see over 1,600 entries pour in. We read each and every entry, and were moved by the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm of the responses. We found that eight major themes came back again and again, citing the benefits of reading. Here is a summary of those themes, as well as some unedited and delicious comments from our young respondents.

1. Discover a New World

By far, the most common reason respondents gave us for why they love reading, is the opportunity to become someone else, discover a whole new world, live an exciting adventure.

When I read, I like to get lost in the mysterious and exciting pages of the books I read. When I read, I get lost in the pages like I’m in another world. It’s almost like I’m there in the story when I read a book. I can almost hear the the sounds, smells, see the objects, places, people and things described in the books that I read. Reading a good book makes me feel better when I feel down, it makes me feel calm when when I’m frustrated, and it’s like an escape route from the disturbance of my brothers! Plus it makes quiet time, a blast!

Olivia from Ann Arbor, Michigan (10 years old)

I am wheelchair bound so reading gives me a way to explore places that I will never go and learn about exciting things. My Educational Assistant reads to me everyday. I expecially like fiction books by Robert Munsch as they are very funny as well as non-fiction books about outerspace and animals.

Jared from Andrew, Alberta (11 years old)

I love to read because it makes me smarter and feeds my imagination better than Wonka candy. I go back long ago, to a galaxy far away with science fiction. I fly somewhere over the rainbow with fantasy. I meet the ugly truth with realistic fiction. I read to take myself places, real and seen, or never seen fictional places. Reading is better than movies, in my opinion.

Alana from Tumwater, Washington (11 years old)

2. Escape Your Worries

We received many, many entries from teens who described their lives as stressful, or related moments of sadness & anxiety. To many of these teens, reading represents an escape from the stress, to a world where they can feel calm, happy and at peace.

Because reading lets me escape from this world for a little while and enter a world where everything is perfect.

Dakota from Oxford, Maine (14 years old)

I love to read to take away all of Earths problems. When I read, I forget about tragedies like the bombings in Seria. When i read, its like I’m in another world, living someone else’s carefree or exciting life.

Jacob from New York, NY (14 years old)

3. Be Entertained

For some of our respondents, the love of reading is not very complicated. It’s just about entertainment, escaping boredom, and having fun! Many children told us that when they read a book, the story plays out vividly, like a movie in their minds.

“Sometimes when my mom tells me it’s time to read, I’m not happy. I’d rather be playing basketball with my friends or watching a movie.
But then I open my book and start reading, and things start to change. I get wrapped up in a story quickly and the pages seem to turn themselves. Time goes by really fast when I’m reading.
Even though I love watching TV, there is not one show that is as good as most books I have read. I am going to keep reading not only because my teachers and parents tell me I have to, but because I really enjoy good stories.”

Isaac from Glenview, IL (12 years old)

4. Exercise your Mind

Parents and teachers will be gratified to hear that our young readers are all too aware of the benefits reading offers for their brains. Many respondents describe having initial difficulty reading, but developing proficiency over time. Their feeling of pride is palpable.

“I love to read because I really love learning new things, and when I read my mind grows. At the beginning it was hard for me to read but after practicing everyday now I’m able to read on my own. When I read I feel like I’m in the book and can visualize the whole scene. Reading is a great exercise for the mind.”

Camilla from San Pedro Sula, Honduras (7 years old)

“It is a healthy way for your brain to exercise!”

Abrianna from Dublin, Ohio (12 years old)

5. Enrich Your Vocabulary

While many respondents proudly touted the newfound knowledge they extracted from books, several focused very specifically on the way reading has expanded their vocabulary.

“Books help you learn new things and entertain you. I’ve learned new words, like idiosyncrasy, that I wouldn’t hear from my friends.”

Anna from Los Gatos, CA (8 years old)

“I love to read because it relaxes my mind, I get to learn, and I read for entertainment. I feel that reading has opened me up to a new vocabulary and reading has taught me to understand different cultures and religions. that is why i love to read.”

Amber from Greensboro, North Carolina (11 years old)

6. Improve Your Writing

A surprising number of our young readers professed a love for writing, and even an intention to build a career around the written word. These young scribes credit reading with providing them with the inspiration and knowledge they’ll need, in order to publish their own works in the future.

“I love to read because I want to be a writer when I’m older and I love all the inspiration in books. I love getting lost in a book, to just fly off in my own world of adventure.I would read all day of I could.I love learning about the history of books to. I find all books amazing. When I read I get emotional and Feel the same way as the character in the book does.I have a different life in my books.I would do anything to get my hands on a book.”

Flora from London, England (10 years old)

“Reading rewards me by giving me knowledge from the detailed texts. I get knowledge of how to write my own book someday. The books give me ideas of what to write and how to be a fantastic writer. The Junie B. Jones books teach me how to be hilarious. Harry Potter books teach me how to be scary. All books in the world have something special in them. Even if you don’t like them, other people might. You should like to read because it rewards you with knowledge. That’s why I love to read!”

Sydney from Bowie, MD

7. Connect with Someone Special

Responses from this seventh category were the most moving of all. These are children who love reading because it connects them to someone they care about—either due to shared and cherished reading memories, or because reading has given them greater insight into a person they greatly admire.

“When I was 6 I couldn’t read at all. I was falling behind in my classes, but then my mom sat down with me and she taught me how to read. My mom spent tons of hours and days and months teaching me how to read. I then caught up in my classes and excelled in school, and since my mom taught me how to read with so much effort I wanted to give something back to her. I wanted to show her how she helped me excel. That’s why reading is so important to me and that’s why I love to read, because of my mom. Reading isn’t just awesome to me it’s special and I cherish it so much.”

Autymn from Spokane, WA (11 years old)

“I love to read cause when I was little I always read with my grandma and I loved doing it and now that she passed away christmas eve I read in honor of her no matter what people say about me.”

Branden from Harlan, IA (14 years old)

“Because I like the books that I read and I’m currently reading about Jimmy Nielsen. He is my hero and a retired goalkeeper for Sporting KC”

Lennon from Kansas City, MO (11 years old)

8. Relax & Fall Asleep

Rounding out our list, are the children who love reading because it relaxes them, and helps them drift off to sleep!

“I love to read because it relaxes me and some books just firmly grab you like a happy octupus!!”

Julian from Kansas City, MO (11 years old)

“I love to read because it takes me on new adventures. It also helps me when I am scared and can’t sleep.”

Sam from Little Falls, NJ (8 years old)

It’s worth noting that a huge proportion of our respondents cited specific genres of books, or authors, or series that they absolutely love and can’t put down. This reinforces what we already know and have written about: If you can discover what subjects your children are most interested in, and find the best children’s books for their tastes, you might just be able to turn your reluctant readers into readers for life. And THAT, we believe, is the greatest reward of all!

Have any comments about this post? We’d love to hear from you, below!