National Reading Campaign

National Reading Campaign: Transformative Power of Reading

National Reading Campaign: Transformative Power of Reading

In a world increasingly dominated by technology and digital distractions, the importance of reading cannot be overstated. Through an examination of research and statistical evidence, we uncover the intricate relationship between reading and vital aspects of human existence, shedding light on the transformative power of this age-old practice.


The Profound Impact of Reading

  • Reading significantly influences every aspect of Canadian life. It enriches our democracy, boosts our economy, and enhances the overall quality of our daily experiences through its profound effects.
  • Reading is indispensable for the well-being of society and its functioning as a democracy.
  • Reading is a lifelong source of joy and fulfillment for individuals.
  • Reading empowers individuals with critical thinking skills.
  • Reading fosters empathy, leading to a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and enhancing our emotional intelligence.
  • Reading is vital for functional competence, breaking down barriers and helping individuals make sense of the world around them.
  • Reading establishes the groundwork for future learning, elevating our self-worth and enabling critical thinking.
  • Reading ignites inspiration and acts as a catalyst for imagination.
  • Reading positively impacts individuals’ health and economic prosperity.
  • Reading preserves our cultural heritage for future generations, fostering a sense of shared connection within communities.
  • It is crucial for a large portion of the population to engage in reading to exercise personal agency and comprehend effective strategies for change, allowing them to become active citizens.

Is all this really attributed to reading? Let’s provide evidence!

Reading: Cultivating Civic Engagement

  • The percentage of book readers who volunteer for non-profit organizations is significantly higher (42%) than that of non-readers (25%).
  • Book readers also exhibit higher rates (82%) of donating money or goods to non-profit organizations compared to non-readers (66%).
  • Book readers are more likely (71%) to have performed favours for their neighbours in the past month, surpassing non-readers (65%).
  • A stronger sense of belonging to Canada is reported by 49% of book readers, in contrast to 42% of non-readers.

— Hill Strategies, “Social Effects of Culture: Exploratory Statistical Evidence and Detailed Statistical Models”

Reading: Enhancing Empathy

“Reading fiction predicts an individual’s empathic accuracy.”

— Raymond A. Mar, Keith Oatley, and Jordan B. Peterson, from “Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy”

Reading: Enriching Relationships

“Engaging in the experiential world of literary fiction aids in understanding those who differ from us, strengthening empathy and social perception.”

— Raymond A. Mar, Keith Oatley, from “The function of fiction in the abstraction and simulation of social experience,” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(3), 173-192.

“Literacy-improved individuals…

…are more likely to own their own homes.

…experience lower rates of divorce.”

— Literacy Trust, “Literacy Changes Lives: An Advocacy Toolkit” (Executive Summary)

Reading: Deepening Self-Understanding

“Through pleasure reading, teenagers gain valuable insights into mature relationships, personal values, cultural identity, physical safety, aesthetic preferences, and understanding of the physical world.”

— Vivian Howard, University of Dalhousie, from “The Importance of Pleasure Reading: Self-identification, self-construction, and self-awareness.”

Reading: Promoting Health and Well-being

“Reading books correlates with better health, increased volunteering, and a higher level of life satisfaction.”

“Compared to non-readers in 2010, book readers:

  • Report higher levels of excellent or very good health (54% vs. 44%).
  • Report higher levels of excellent or very good mental health (63% vs. 56%).
  • Are more likely to engage in volunteer work (42% vs. 26%).
  • Feel less trapped in a daily routine (33% vs. 39%).
  • Experience a somewhat stronger satisfaction with life (61% vs. 57%).”

— Hill Strategies, “The Arts & Well-Being in Canada”

“Literacy has direct and indirect impacts on health.”

— Irving Rootman, Barbara Ronson, “Literacy and health research in Canada: where have we been and where should we go?”

“Bibliotherapy can improve communication, attitude, and reduce aggression among children with social disabilities.”

— Business Standard, “Reading books to your kids can help them deal with social struggles.”

Reading: Reducing Stress

“Reading has been proven to be:

  • 68% more effective in reducing stress levels than listening to music.
  • 100% more effective than drinking a cup of tea.
  • 300% better than going for a walk.
  • 700% more effective than playing video games.
  • Just 6 minutes of reading is sufficient to decrease stress levels by 60%, resulting in a slower heartbeat, reduced muscle tension, and altered state of mind.”

— Dr. David Lewis, “Galaxy Stress Research,” Mindlab International, Sussex University

Reading: Lowering the Risk of Dementia

“Our study shows that engaging in more reading and hobbies, and spending more time reading per week, correlates with a reduced risk of dementia.”

— Tiffany Hughes, Chung-Chou H. Chang, Joni Vander Bilt & Mary Ganguli, “Engagement in reading and hobbies and risk of incident dementia”

Reading: Providing Cognitive Benefits

“Reading has cognitive consequences that extend beyond the immediate task of understanding a particular passage, including vocabulary growth, verbal intelligence, and general knowledge acquisition.”

— Annie Cunningham and Keith Stanovich, “What Reading Does for the Mind”

Reading: A Key to Future Success

“Improving students’ reading skills has a strong impact on their future opportunities… Students’ interest in reading, the time they spend reading during leisure, and the variety of materials they read are closely associated with their performance in reading literacy. Remarkably, students whose parents have low occupational status but actively engage in reading achieve higher reading scores than students whose parents have high or medium occupational status but exhibit poor reading engagement. Encouraging student reading engagement may be one of the most effective ways to drive social change.”

— Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), OECD

Readers: Enjoying Higher Incomes

“Individuals with higher literacy levels are more likely to be employed, work more weeks per year, and earn higher wages compared to individuals with lower literacy proficiencies.”

— Irwin S. Kirsch, Anne Jungeblut, Lynn Jenkins, and Andrew Kolstad, “Adult Literacy in America”

READING IN CANADA: Current Landscape

“The percentage of grade 3 Ontario students who report enjoying reading has declined from 76% in 1998/99 to 50% in 2010/11. Similarly, the percentage of grade 6 students who enjoy reading has dropped from 65% to 50% during the same period.”

— People for Education, “Reading enjoyment on the decline in Ontario Schools”

“Just over half of Canadian households surveyed do not spend any money on books.”

— Hill, K. (2005). Who buys books in Canada? A statistical analysis based on household spending data. Statistical Insights on the Arts, 3 (4)

“The percentage of Canadians who have read a Canadian book has decreased from 41% in 2002 to 24% in 2012.”

— Sarah Tutty, “What Canadians Think about Canadian Books.” Booknet Canada

“A snapshot of library use in Canada for 2010:

  • 360 million in-person visits to libraries across the country.
  • 590 million publications borrowed.
  • 61% of all Canadians hold a public library membership.”

— Alvin M. Scrader and Michael R. Brundin, National Statistic and Values Profile of Canadian Libraries

“Canadian libraries operate on an average budget of 28 cents per day per Canadian or $104 per year per Canadian.”

— Alvin M. Scrader and Michael R. Brundin, National Statistic and Values Profile of Canadian Libraries

“Sadly, nearly half of Canadian adults fall short of the desired English or French literacy proficiency level.”

— Craig Alexander, TD Bank, “Don’t Take Literacy for Granted”

“Over 60% of Aboriginal Canadians lack the literacy skills required to fully participate in the knowledge-based economy. This is ten percentage points higher than the overall rate among Canadian adults.”

— Sonya Gulati, TD Senior Economist, “Literacy Matters: Unlocking the Literacy Potential of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada”

“Students who express a liking for reading score 54 points higher on standardized reading tests than those who do not enjoy reading.”


“Children whose parents enjoy reading score 36 points higher on standardized reading tests than those whose parents do not.”


What Strategies Are Effective?

“Our findings demonstrate that third-grade students participating in summer reading programs achieve higher reading test scores at the beginning of fourth grade and avoid the summer learning loss. They also enter the following school year with a positive attitude toward reading, increased confidence in the classroom, an inclination to read beyond required material, and a perception of reading as important.”

— Carole Fiore and Susan Roman, “Summer Reading Programs Boost Student Achievement, Study Says”

“Public libraries in Ontario have more cardholders than VISA, handle more items than FedEx, and have more outlets than McDonald’s. Each year, there are 72.3 million in-person visits to Ontario public libraries, three times the attendance at all North American NHL hockey games.”

— Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

“Only 37% of Ontario’s First Nation communities have public libraries, typically open for an average of 29 hours per week, with 97% of cases having only one part-time librarian.”

— Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

“School libraries serve as gateways for children and youth to explore and learn about the world. They facilitate independent inquiry, foster a love for reading, and enhance research and inquiry skills. Unfortunately, support for school libraries in Ontario is declining, with only 56% of elementary schools having a teacher-librarian (often part-time) compared to 80% in 1997/98. High schools fare slightly better with 66% having teacher-librarians, down from 78% a decade ago. Smaller communities and schools have significantly lower access to teacher-librarians, with only 19% of elementary schools in Eastern Ontario and 10% in Northern Ontario having them.”

— People for Education, School Libraries & Information Literacy Excerpts are taken from “Towards Sustaining & Encouraging Reading in Canada Society” by Sharon Murphy.