UK study extolls reading for pleasure
"Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to the UK Institute of Education (IOE). The IOE study... found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read. ... Reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children's cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents' level of education. The combined effect on children's progress of 1) reading books often, 2) going to the library regularly and 3) reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree.
The study also reported that children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way.