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Reading is still the best way to learn

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that reading a book is one of the best ways to learn. However, digital innovations have brought with them new ways to absorb information and share knowledge, such as webinars, live courses and videos. So, is reading still the key way to learn new information, or could content such as video take over?  

Of course, video content is immensely valuable. Indisputably, it’s a powerful tool when it comes to learning. However, do people still learn better through reading?

Reading improves concentration levels  

In this digital age, our attention span is at an all time low. We’re used to instant gratification, and we’re not accustomed to investing vast amounts of time concentrating on any given topic. Reading is one of the best ways to change this. The very act of reading a book demands total concentration, and gives the reader the chance to shut off from the world around them. This is also a powerful stress-buster. In fact, one 2009 study by Sussex University researchers showed that “reading may reduce stress by as much as 68 percent.”

Reading exercises the mind

Those who read on a regular basis have been proven to lower their mental decline. In other words, the exercise of reading actually boosts your brain power. Research published in Neurology and published in the Huffington Post found that “Frequent brain exercise was able to lower mental decline by 32 percent.”  Regular reading was also found to be beneficial in terms of lowering down the brain’s aging process, keeping you on the ball for as long as possible.

Reading develops the imagination  

Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” No matter what the subject matter, a well-written book provides a huge volume of information, and can be massively important in developing your imagination, which is a great help when it comes to learning in general.

Neuroscientists at Emory University found that reading can “improve brain function on a variety of levels,” and “enhance connectivity in the brain.” The report went on to explain that reading could “improve the reader’s imagination in a way that is similar to muscle memory in sports.”

Words are a wonderful thing

A paper released by the University of California, Berkeley found that even when reading children’s books, readers are “exposed to 50% more words than prime time TV, or even a conversation between college graduates.” So, no matter which book you choose, it’s very likely that you’ll pick up a fair few words you’d not come across before. You’d be unlikely to do the same when using video content. This extensive vocabulary alone is helpful in terms of a reader’s learning potential.

E-reading brings further benefits  

Reading eBooks, as opposed to traditional printed books, has been shown to be even more advantageous when it comes to learning and retaining information. Studies undertaken by We Forum found that “students overwhelming preferred to read digitally,” and also that “reading was significantly faster online than in print.” So, when you combine user preference and the improved efficiency of reading digital content, you know you’re on to a winner in terms of the amount of information being retained.

Reading is still the best way to learn

The latest advancements in technology mean that there are plenty of new ways to learn, with more being created all the time. However, sometimes the old ways really are the best, and that’s why reading is still the top dog when it comes to sharing and retaining information.

Add to that the benefits and efficiencies of eBooks and you have a winner when it comes to effective learning methods.

Thomas Buus Madsen is the COO and co-founder of Bookboon, the world’s largest eBook publisher for employee effectiveness and soft skills. By making its platform incredibly easy to use and only publishing industry-leading experts, Bookboon boasts some of the highest usage rates in the digital learning sector. 

Get a free copy now of Bookboon’s “21st Century Corporate Learning & Development” by Prof. Dr. Nick van Dam, Global Chief Learning Officer at McKinsey & Co.