Imagine that there was a magic medicine you could take that would help improve your school results, increase your chances of getting a job, relax you, make you more empathetic, improve your brain function in general, and make you a more interesting person. Imagine that it would take you 15 or 20 minutes a day to take this magic medicine… but you could get all those benefits.

Would you take it?

I hope you would… because there is a ‘magic medicine’ – but you don’t eat it. You read it!

Research has shown that regular reading can literally change your life.

Reading builds your vocabulary
Researchers have found that young people who read books regularly – preferably from a young age – gradually develop large vocabularies. The more words you know and understand, the easier it is for you to build knowledge, and the better you will be able to communicate too.

Reading helps you to write better
If you’re keen to improve your writing, read with a writer’s eye. You’ll see how writers use language and so get ideas on how you can present an argument, describe a setting, or use dialogue for effect. Writing is not just helpful at school and for exams; writing is a life skill that can help you find a job, or become better at the job you have.

Reading helps you with maths!
Reading doesn’t just assist with your language skills, but also with logic. Research shows that those who read are not only better at language, but they are better at maths too. Reading helps all our brain functions, and strengthens our neural pathways so it helps us with all kinds of learning.

Reading helps you to relax and get a good night’s sleep too
Research has found that just 30 minutes of reading can help to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and feelings of distress. So, if you’re feeling stressed, escaping into a book is a good way of giving yourself a rest and distracting your brain from your daily stresses. Reading before you go to sleep can also help relax you before sleep.

Reading makes you a kinder, more empathetic person
When you read stories about other people and their lives and problems, you empathise with them, imagining what it must be like to face the issues that they face. So, you are exposed to more situations and start to see issues/challenges/life from a range of perspectives. Research has shown that those who read stories regularly show a heightened understanding of the feelings and beliefs of others.

And, reading can also help you to be kinder to yourself too. Stories can help us to reflect on our own lives. We reading about other people and their choices, and this helps us to reflect on our own lives, our own choices. So, reading can provide a pathway to personal development – helping each of us to set and achieve life goals, and overcome difficulties along the way.

There are loads of other reasons to read. It improves general knowledge, helps one to think and problem-solve more creatively, improves memory, provides entertainment, helps with conversation and is an action-packed workout for your brain.

Many top leaders around the world are big readers. Former US President Barack Obama publicises the top books that he is reading each summer. South African-born (and second wealthiest person in the world) Elon Musk is a voracious reader – he credits his love of reading with helping him to not only learn how to build rockets but they fueled his dreams of a future in space too.

Our own president Cyril Ramaphosa is an avid reader who has started his own ‘Virtual Reading Club’. He believes that reading opens our minds and hearts to new ideas, and unlocks opportunities that flow from a broadened understanding of our country and our world.

So, are you ready to take that ‘magic medicine’? Just 15 to 20 minutes of reading a day can change your life!

Pick up a book – or a magazine, or a comic, or a newspaper, or a good story here on – and start reading now!