According to a new study published in the journal Psychological Medicine, children who read for fun for just 12 hours a week tend to perform better on cognitive tests and have better mental health as adolescents than those who don't.

The study, which involved over 10,000 participants, found that those who started reading for pleasure before age 9 had better memory, speech development, and academic achievement. They also had fewer signs of stress, depression, and behavioral problems. On top of that, they slept longer and spent less time on electronic devices when they became adolescents.

Researchers believe that these benefits are due to the fact that reading for fun stimulates the brain and helps develop important cognitive skills such as comprehension, critical thinking, and vocabulary. Additionally, reading exposes children to new ideas and perspectives, both of which can help them develop empathy and be more understanding of others.

Parents can encourage their children to develop a love of reading by reading aloud to them from a young age, taking them to the library, and helping them find books that they are interested in. It is also important to create a calm and relaxing environment for reading and make time for it every day.

Here are some additional tips for encouraging young children to read for fun:

Set a good example: Let your child see you doing the activity for pleasure, and talk to them about the books you are reading.

Make it fun: Pick books appropriate for your child's age and interests, and make reading time a positive experience.

Don't force it: If your child is not interested in doing the activity, don't force them. Instead, try making reading more fun by doing it together with them or playing games with books.

Be patient: It takes time for children to develop a love of reading. Be patient and persistent, and eventually, your child will learn to enjoy reading for fun.

Picture: Interesting Story, by Laura Muntz Lyall (Wikipedia)