Reading for pleasure

Academic Publications

Sullivan, A., Moulton, V., & Fitzsimons, E. (2021). The intergenerational transmission of language skillThe British Journal of Sociology. Working paper.

Sullivan, A. and Brown, M. 2015. Vocabulary from adolescence to middle-age. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies 6(2), 173-189. Working Paper.

Sullivan, A. and Brown, M. (2015) Reading for pleasure and attainment in vocabulary and mathematics. British Educational Research Journal, 41 (6), 971-991. Working Paper.

Other Writing

The Life-Long Benefits of Reading for Pleasure, The School Librarian, Spring 2015.

Reading for fun improves children’s brains, The Guardian, 16th September 2013.

Your vocabulary aged 40 depends on how much you read as a teenager, The Conversation, 6th November 2014.

Recorded Talks

Inaugural Professorial Lecture: Inequalities in education and society: the home, the school and the power of reading, 18th June 2019.

How longitudinal data reveals the benefits of reading for pleasure, Research for The Real World, May 2020. 

50 Years of Life in Britain, Episode 2, Youthscan, The 1980s and Reading for Pleasure, 2020.

The lifelong benefits of reading for pleasure, UCL lunch hour lecture, October 2016.


The findings attracted a remarkable amount of interest from schools, libraries and literacy organisations around the world. They have been used to help protect library services, to persuade children of all ages to spend more time reading, and to encourage parents to support schools’ home reading initiatives.

The findings have been cited and used in campaigning and programme materials by a host of UK literacy organisations, including the Book Trust, Carnegie Trust, and the Reading Agency. The Book Trust, for example, have incorporated the findings into their shared reading campaign, Time to Read which, since 2016, has encouraged over 2.2 million UK children to read for fun.

Literacy associations in Canada, the US and Hong Kong have all referenced the research, and the findings have also been cited in at least nine books aimed at teachers, librarians and parents, including ‘Becoming and Outstanding Primary School Teacher’, a core text for primary teacher trainees and newly qualified teachers.

ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize 2020 finalist, [link to film].

Reading for Pleasure: Research Impact Case Study, March 2015.

Selected Media

Reading ‘helps children’s maths’. Today Programme, 11th September 2013.

Maths advantage for pupils who read for pleasure, BBC News, 11th September 2013.

Childhood Reading and broadsheet newspapers are Best for Boosting Vocabulary, Telegraph, 6th November 2014.