Anne Cunningham and Keith Stanovich published a paper called “What Reading Does For The Mind.” Among its premises is this: reading makes you smarter. Surprise!
Vocabulary is a big winner among readers. The paper cites the research of Hayes and Ahrens (1988), who analyzed the distributions of 86,741 English words used in various contexts, and showed, among other things, that children’s books have 50 percent more rare words in them than do adult prime-time TV and college-graduate conversations. The results aren’t limited to just vocab, though: Cunningham and Stanovich ran tests on kids and college students and “found that reading volume made a significant contribution to multiple measures of vocabulary, general knowledge, spelling, and verbal fluency.” Reading wins everything!
Finally, definitive proof of why I am so effing brilliant (but still can’t do maths).