Today marks World Book Day, a national day dedicated to reading and its many benefits. World Book Day was created in 1995 by UNESCO, and first celebrated in the UK in 1997. It is now a worldwide event, with over 100 countries participating! You may have celebrated when you were younger by dressing up as a book character. For past World Book Days, I dressed as Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Susan Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia series.

But why celebrate reading?

Reading has obvious benefits for our literacy skills. To read more often is to broaden your vocabulary and give you insights into different writing styles. But to read for pleasure is even more important; it has been argued to read for pleasure is the biggest indicator of a child’s future success, more so than their family income or parents’ education. Despite this importance, there has been a decline in reading for pleasure; in 2023, only 43.4% of 8–18-year-olds said they enjoyed reading. Now more than ever, we need to read up on the benefits of books.

What other benefits are there to reading? Some of them may surprise you!

Reading is also a brilliant way to spruce up your university or apprenticeship application.

For both, you will have to write a statement or answer questions arguing why you should be offered a place for the course of your choice. It is important for you to be able to evidence your enthusiasm for a topic – you may find a topic interesting, but why do you find it interesting? What have you done to act on your interest? Universities and employers want to offer places to genuinely motivated students who will act on their interest. What better way to demonstrate your passion for a topic than to do extra-curricular reading?

I referred to books on my university application, specifically Robert Ballard’s Titanic by Robert Ballard. I acquired this book when I was 11 years old, and it remains one of my favourite books. It offers an insight into the “afterlife” of the RMS Titanic and its discovery in 1985. Most importantly, it sparked my interest in objects from the past, which soon translated into archaeology. This book encapsulates my trajectory towards archaeology, and demonstrated to admissions tutors my genuine interest in the subject.

I have no doubt that evidencing my interest through reading, as well as my wealth of work experience, contributed to my receiving three unconditional offers for university.

Have you got a special interest? Football? Biology? Politics? Check out your local library and read a book on it! Your future self will thank you.