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How can you make yourself smarter? Read more books!

At BISS Puxi, our students have access to over 16,000 books in the Secondary School Library. All KS3 students have scheduled sessions in the Library during their English lessons. At this time, they are given the chance to choose a reading book, the opportunity to explore their reading options with their teacher and, or the librarian, and a dedicated time to read.


Our top six readers, so far this year, are: Charlotte Chen and Thomas Benes, who have read ten books each, Jason Kok has read eleven, Melis Temucin has finished fourteen and Alessandro Merz has read sixteen. This is very impressive, but, our most prolific reader is Kai Chen, who has read a staggering forty-one books.  The most popular book is Wonder by R.J. Palacio, which has been borrowed twenty-one times since the beginning of term.   

All reading is beneficial, be it fiction, graphic novels, magazines or poetry.  Reading for pleasure means finding something that the student wants to read, giving them access to it and the opportunity to read it. Our students were asked to let us know which books they would like to be added to this year’s Library order. Requests were made for a selection of genres including Agatha Christie novels and The World’s Worst Teachers by David Walliams, and we are eagerly waiting for the new volumes to be added to our collection.  We have other reading initiatives planned and these will be published in due course.

One of the questions the students often ask is why is it important that we read? There are many answers to this question but the top ten are:

  1. It helps develop verbal skills and vocabulary.
  2. It improves focus and concentration.  This may be difficult at first but the more you read the easier it is.
  3. It provides mental stimulation which keeps your brain healthy.
  4. It improves imagination and creativity.
  5. It gives you wider knowledge.
  6. It makes you smarter.
  7. It reduces stress.  Studies have shown that just six minutes of reading slows your heart rate and eases tension in your muscles.
  8. It helps improve your memory.
  9. It develops critical thinking, analytical skills and builds empathy.
  10. It improves your writing skills.

And most importantly …… IT’S FUN!

All reading is beneficial, be it fiction, graphic novels, magazines or poetry. Reading for pleasure means finding something that the student wants to read, giving them access to it and the opportunity to read it.

Another question is what method of reading is best, a physical book, an electronic reader or an IPad? As always, there are advantages and disadvantages for all.  One of the biggest disadvantages of reading on an IPad is on-line distractions; messages, games and other media to name a few. This means you are never fully focused and do not become immersed in the act of reading.  But an IPad is a brilliant tool for research and instant answers.  An electronic reader has a level of screen luminance which can lead to visual fatigue; this can present itself as tired, burning and itchy eyes.  One advantage of this method of reading is direct access to a multitude of books without having to carry them!  For those with particular reading needs, for example dyslexia, an electronic reader can be of great benefit as the device’s features can be tailored to suit a preferred reading method; for example, the size or style of the text, the line spacing or the length of text on each line. When reading a physical book, numerous studies have shown memory retention and focus to be much better compared to other methods.  The tactile nature of a book can give a sense of progress, you can see how many pages you have read and how many more you have to go; this often adds to the sense of the story unfolding and progressing.  However, as expats, moving is often part of life and moving a large number of books is not always possible or practical. Therefore, the answer to the original question of what method of reading is best is not a straightforward one.  But as an avid reader and an enthusiast of the written word I’m sure you can guess what my preferred method is.

If a student needs inspiration on what to read, they can always speak to the librarian and together they can investigate different reading options. If you wish to help or encourage your child to read more, but need some ideas, a website that can be helpful is noted below: 

Within the book section of this site there are individual book reviews, suggested reads for various age groups, book lists and a very informative tool; the recommended age rating.

What is evident is that reading is advantageous for many reasons and we should all be doing more of it, this includes parents and teachers as well as our students.  It’s just the smart thing to do!

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The British International School Shanghai, Puxi

111 Jinguang RoadHuacao TownMinhang201107Shanghai


金光路111号华漕镇上海市 闵行区201107

NAE Hong Kong Limited

18/F Edinburgh Tower The Landmark
15 Queen’s Road Central
Hong Kong

General Enquiries +86 021 5226 3211

Admissions +86 21 6221 7542