20 People Prove Why Reading Actually Makes You Smarter

Today, we’re diving deep into the age-old debate that has puzzled minds for generations- can reading really make you smarter? It’s a question that’s been asked by students, parents, and teachers all over the world!

One Redditor asked, “Does reading actually make you smarter?” This thread received thousands of comments, and we have listed the top ones for you!

Reading can make you smarter, but it’s not a magic potion that works independently. It’s about engaging with the material and applying it to your life. However, reading is so important for so many reasons. So, read on, and let those books take you on a journey of knowledge and wisdom!

1. Improves Vocabulary

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We all love talking and expressing ourselves, but sometimes finding the right words can feel like searching for buried treasure. Fear not, because reading is here to save the day! 

A discerning Reddit user commented, “I also think that having a better vocabulary allows you to express yourself and articulate things better, which I guess isn’t specifically “smarter”, but I feel like being able to express your thoughts better is part of it at least! Being able to think about a concept with 10 words vs. 100 words is something.”

Another replied, “If you actually stop to look up and make an effort to learn every word you don’t know, I’d say it at least increases your vocabulary.”

2. Widens Your Horizon

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First and foremost, reading exposes you to different perspectives. You might be cozying up in your little corner of the world, but through books, you can experience life through someone else’s eyes. 

One said, “You gain a lot of perspectives from reading which might help expand your own perspective, which I believe does make you smarter!”

Someone else added, ““Piggybacking on this. It will depend on what content you are reading if you are challenging yourself mentally to expand into new topics, are you attempting recollection or challenging discussions or themes via debate or arguments, are you learning something new, etc.”

3. Reading Comprehension

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Reading is the ultimate secret weapon for honing your comprehension skills. 

A Reddit user wrote, “Reading comprehension is the real key here. If you understand more, you will be able to learn more and from more complicated texts.”

Another added, “A good measure of intelligence is how easily you can comprehend new ideas, and reading comprehension is definitely a valuable rung on that ladder.”

4. Keeps Your Brain Active

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Think of your brain as a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Well, guess what? Reading is the ultimate brain workout! 

Someone commented, “Also worth mentioning that any mental activity (including reading) which stimulates the brain will make it function better. Just like with muscles, it is important to keep it active.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “I agree, and to add to it, some people respond to exercises differently. Some people like endurance, and some people like strength. If you are a reader, read! If reading isn’t for you, that is okay too. There are other ways to keep your brain engaged.”

5. Video Games Are Better

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One shared, “I think video games are better for your brain. Most of them involve coordination and problem-solving.”

Another person pitched in to say, “Hell, yes! And people often s*** on gamers and such, but I’m 100% certain video games made me better at driving/operating machinery. They also give me a massive outlet to calculate and theory craft! I think reading can be the same in a different but also creative way.”

Let’s talk about multitasking – video games have it in spades! Picture yourself controlling a character, managing your resources, and making split-second decisions, all while keeping an eye on the clock ticking down. And guess what? Video games are excellent teachers of resilience and perseverance.

6. Audiobooks

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Audiobooks are a secret weapon for your brain, enhancing your cognitive abilities in ways you never thought possible. 

One said, “I was a little surprised back when studies showed that audiobooks activate the same areas of the brain as reading.”

Another person agreed with it and said, “Humans have a strong history of oral storytelling, and most pre-Victorian classics were meant for performance. Shakespeare is a good example. Reading is still good, but audiobooks are basically a similar tradition to what our ancestors did.”

7. Dealing With Situations

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When you read, you’re not just flipping pages; you’re immersing yourself in the lives of characters who face challenges, dilemmas, and triumphs. As you follow their journeys, you put yourself in their shoes, experiencing their emotions and seeing the world through their eyes. 

A Reddit user wrote, “Another thing is just flat-out experience you wouldn’t necessarily encounter outside of books or movies. For instance, you can read about a character facing an issue, then find out about how they solve/deal/cope with it. This will almost always cause you to ponder the experience and think how you would react differently, all without ever having the experience yourself. I’ve learned so many different ways on how to deal with various situations, all without ever experiencing them.”

Another replied, “You can benefit from anything so long as you properly stimulate a critical judgment of it and not just mindlessly consume and jump to the next thing. Books, music, TV shows, movies, gaming, and any form of entertainment can serve as a form of learning by being exposed to different cultures, opinions, ethics, and dilemmas. Taking the time to “digest” these experiences is a key part of the process, though. That’s all there is to it.”

8. Empathy

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Someone commented, “I think putting yourself in others’ perspectives often through reading can make you a more empathetic human being.”

Another added, “also has been proven to heighten empathy levels. This is especially significant in kids and younger people, as it’s a foundational emotion/ability in life – to feel for people who aren’t you (and in the case of books, who often don’t even exist at all).”

Reading fosters an emotional resonance that’s hard to replicate. When you read about characters facing adversity, your heart races with anticipation. When they encounter heartache, tears may blur your vision!

9. Non-fiction

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When you pick up a non-fiction book, you’re not just engaging in casual reading; you’re embarking on a quest for knowledge!

One said, “Does smarter mean “lots of knowledge?” If so, yeah, reading probably makes you smarter, especially non-fiction.”

Someone else added, “Not making any judgments about you one way or the other, but this is exactly why reading NF is just as important. NF provides the context and important background information to things found in fiction (it also helps readers make judgment calls about whether or not certain fiction elements are plausible or if they’re just pie-in-the-sky nonsense.) And that kind of discernment is essential for when we make value-based judgments in real life, which we all do.”

10. Book Smart

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Reading makes you a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. You become a human repository of facts and details from different books. From obscure historical events to scientific breakthroughs, you’re a treasure chest of information.

Someone commented, “Smart is a very vague and subjective concept. There are a lot of different things you can be “smart” about and things you can be less smart about. One of my lifelong friends, who often gets teased for being the slow one or just kinda unfamiliar with a lot of common stuff, will be able to explain in excruciating detail the inner workings of a car engine and take one apart and put it back together in his backyard in a few hours. 

If I start talking about semantics, breaking down metaphors, or using big words, maybe he is not the smart one because I read, and he doesn’t. But If I get a flat tire or my AC is broken, I’ll be da**ed if I’m “smart” enough to figure it out.”Book Smart” is the term for this, I believe.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “I used to work at a cheese factory briefly doing sanitation work. I had this guy I worked with who lived in the same house he was born in. He worked the same job for 40+ years, and I don’t believe he ever left the state. He also did some farm work on the side. I’m not trying to be insulting or judgmental when I say this, but definitely gave off these country bumpkin vibes.

 It didn’t help that the dude was kind of an ***hole. But then you saw the man work and be able to explain the why’s and how’s of doing some of the things, and the guy was a genius. You’d be taking apart a 50lb ball valve, and the metal parts would stick, and he’d explain how running it under warm water allows the outer ring to allow it to expand and then release the inner components. 

He could explain to you the science behind his friend’s dairy farm he had helped out on for decades. But if you asked him the capital of Nebraska or even the state we lived in, I doubt he’d be able to give you an answer. It just wasn’t relevant to him. Definitely opened my eyes as to how different minds can work.”

11. A Chance To Live a Different Life

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When you pick up a book, you’re not just holding a bunch of papers- you’re grabbing a ticket to adventures beyond your wildest dreams. You can be a pirate sailing the high seas, a wizard conjuring magical spells, or a detective solving mysteries. 

A Reddit user wrote, “I think the best metaphor I have found as to why books are so important is precisely this. You are forever trapped in your own life. Your own memories and feelings. They shape how you view the world around you. A book is a look into another person’s soul. It’s the pouring of the writer’s own memories and experiences that allows you to see the outside of your own mind.”

Another added, “Reading is a chance to live a different life. A character with feelings and motivations entirely different from your own. And if the author is good, they will make you relate to them.”

12. Broader Understanding

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One shared, “More than that, reading also expands your idea of what “normal” could be, helps you understand other cultural and social viewpoints, and broadens your understanding of what is possible in human life.

With the internet increasingly filtering itself to show you content that aligns with your current beliefs, books are one of the best ways to learn about viable, intelligent, and historically tested viewpoints (on every issue) that you would not otherwise see.”

Another replied, “People are out here living some wild lives, and knowing about, learning how broad the limits actually are, makes it way easier to understand that a lot of what you see as rules and limits are social norms and habits.”

When you read, you’re opening up a whole new universe of perspectives. It’s like climbing a mountain and getting a 360-degree view of everything around you!

13. Different Outlooks

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Someone commented, “It exposes you to experiences you could never have yourself and can allow you to perceive your own experience from an outsider’s perspective.”

Someone else added, “Reading exposes you to other opinions, different outlooks on life, situations you’ve never considered or found yourself in, other cultures/ races/ religions/ politics/ lifestyles/ genders/ s**ualities/ time periods/ regions…

It’s up to you what you do with all this information. Some people might not take in much of it; others might have eye-opening, thought-expanding personal epiphanies or life-changing revelations. There’s no right or wrong here. It’s available for you to access in any way you want.”

So, you might start a book with a certain outlook, but as you turn the pages, that outlook might do a 180-degree flip.

14. Learn About the Tragedies

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One said, “I fully agree. As an American, I think this is especially the case with slavery. I don’t think you can truly appreciate the tragedy of chattel slavery without reading slave narratives. The reality is lost if you don’t actually read and understand the depravity. Yes, movies are okay, but it’s not nearly as powerful. There are things that I would have never imagined, you can pretty much think of any heinous act, and it was probably done.”

Another replied, “I’m reminded of the scene in 12 Years a Slave where the overseer nonchalantly knocks out the teeth of two hunger-striking slaves so they can be force-fed with tin funnels. I was viscerally yanked from my place of comfort by this actor’s performance and the plight of the slaves, not permitted to die on their own terms or live on their own terms.”

When you read about past tragedies, you gain insights into the mistakes of the past and the lessons we can learn from them.

15. Learn a New Language

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A discerning Reddit user commented, “Not sure about smartness, but as a non-native English speaker, reading has helped me a lot in improving my grammar and speaking skills.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “Yeah, this is a huge one. Essentially, you can’t learn a language only by reading a textbook, learning the words and grammar rules. You need tons and tons and tons of exposure to the natural written and spoken language. Listening and reading is the way to go.

Of course, vocabulary flashcards and grammar studies are a great way to get started, so you can get to the point where you can start reading and listening. But as soon as you can read, even if you have to look up multiple words in each sentence, then it should take priority over textbook learning and memorization. Same with listening, of course.”

Reading exposes you to colloquial language and slang – the juicy stuff they don’t teach you in textbooks! It’s like getting an insider’s guide to the language, and you start sounding like a cool local instead of a textbook robot.

16. Emotional Intelligence

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You see, reading lets you step into the characters’ minds, experiencing their joys, sorrows, and everything in between. You become an emotional sponge, soaking up their experiences and gaining a deeper understanding of the heart. 

A Reddit user wrote, “Yep, IIRC there have been studies done on emotional intelligence in readers vs. non-readers. Probably specifically kids.”

Another added, “It means reading makes you smarter, at least for emotional intelligence.”

17. The Ultimate Workout

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Someone commented, “There are studies that reading helps stave off dementia, Alzheimer’s, and general mental decline. Reading it like a workout for your brain.”

Another replied, “Reading was protective of cognitive function in later life. Frequent reading activities were associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline for older adults at all levels of education in the long term.”

When you read, you’re giving your brain a full-body workout, and trust us; it’ll be thanking you later!

18. Learn New Facts

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Reading is a superpower that lets you impress your friends with your endless stash of fun facts. Imagine dropping mind-blowing trivia at parties like a pro. You become the ultimate fact guru, and people can’t help but be amazed! 

A Reddit user commented, “I believe it does somewhat. I have learned a little something from almost every book I’ve read. Reading exposes one to not only new words but new ideas, facts, customs, etc.”

Someone added, “The last book I read taught me the best way to club a sea lion. An amazing tale, but I really wish I didn’t automatically visualize things when I read.”

19. Curiosity

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Here’s the real magic- reading makes you ask “why” and “what if”. You start questioning everything around you, from the stars in the sky to the workings of the human brain, wanting to explore everything around yourself!

One said, “My two cents about the benefits of reading- Open-mindedness and curiosity.”

Someone else added, “I think reading makes you intelligent and curious. I was a kid who read a lot, ended up being an adult who reads a lot. I read everything as a kid and teenager cause they lead me to the better stuff. I’d see a book name somewhere, would try to read that one, and end up reading in English, which is not even my native language.”

20. The Books Matter

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A discerning Reddit user commented, “Depends on the book. Depends on the subject matter. Depends on the person.”

Another replied, “If you’re just reading Dan Brown books or Fast and the Furious literally adaptation, then your horizons are being extended, but maybe just a bit. Compared to other non-fiction or even fiction with complicated ideas that are new to you and beyond your experience, you have to think about and maybe try to change your philosophy and how you view everyday life. You get out of reading what you put into it.”

So, what book you read matters a ton lot! It’s all about finding the right book that tickles your fancy, right?

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.

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