Does reading calm ADHD?

A person lounging on a couch, engrossed in reading a book.

For anyone living with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), life can be a bit more challenging. We live in an increasingly fast-paced world that is filled with distractions. Let’s be honest, finding calm and focus is challenging for anyone, and at times it feels like an elusive quest. Although ADHD isn’t curable, there are many strategies and tools that can help manage its symptoms, and although it may seem counterintuitive, reading can be a wonderful ally!

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Understanding ADHD

Before we dive into the calming effects of reading, it's important to understand what ADHD is. ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders, and it is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. 

People with ADHD often have trouble paying attention, being hyperactive or controlling impulsive behaviors (in other words, acting without thinking). All this means is that sitting down and focusing for longer periods of time can be exceptionally challenging. 

According to the CDC, “It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue, can be severe, and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.”

A child with ADHD might:

  • Daydream a lot
  • Forget or lose things a lot
  • Squirm or fidget
  • Talk too much
  • Make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
  • Have a hard time resisting temptation
  • Have trouble taking turns
  • Have difficulty getting along with others

The Calming Effects of Reading

Reading offers a wonderful form of escapism. We know we have said this before, but it's true—books transport us into many different and exciting worlds. We live a thousand lives and experience an array of emotions, all from the comfort of our couch. 

For anyone with ADHD, reading can be a calming activity as it gives that much-needed break from the constant whirlwind of thoughts and distractions that seem to be everywhere. Yes, reading does need focus and attention, but it can be exceptionally therapeutic. When you read, you can’t help but slow down, pay attention to each word, and immerse yourself in the story. This goes a long way to helping reduce stress and increasing feelings of relaxation, making reading a beneficial activity for managing ADHD symptoms.

A stack of books with eyeglasses on top, beside a flower vase.

Reading Strategies for ADHD

Let’s have a look at some great reading strategies for ADHD!

  • Set Realistic Goals: Begin with short reading sessions and gradually increase your reading time as your concentration improves. Remember, practice makes perfect!
  • Choose Engaging Material: Pick books that genuinely interest you, as that will definitely help you stay engaged and focused. (We have just the thing to get you started, but more about that later!)
  • Create a Distraction-Free Environment: Find a quiet, comfortable spot for reading where distractions and interruptions are minimized. This may be the ideal time to create the perfect reading nook!
  • Use Multisensory Approaches: When you first start reading, you may find that listening to audiobooks while following along in the book improves your focus and retention.

Mindfulness Reading and ADHD

Mindfulness reading—we love how that sounds! It’s a great concept that simply combines the principles of mindfulness—being present in the moment—with the act of reading. When you practice mindfulness reading, you need to fully engage with the story while paying attention to when your mind wanders and then gently guiding your attention back to the book. This is a wonderful practice that can enhance your concentration and promote a sense of calm at the same time. This is serious bliss for anyone who has ADHD!

Improving Focus in ADHD Through Reading

As we said, “Practice makes perfect!” By reading regularly, anyone with ADHD can gradually improve their focus and attention span. By challenging your brain to concentrate on a single task, reading acts as a form of brain exercise, strengthening the brain's ability to focus over time. Try incorporating reading into your daily routines, and you are bound to experience noticeable improvements in both your concentration and attention management.

Coping Mechanisms and Additional Resources

While reading can be a valuable tool in managing ADHD, it's important to take advantage of a range of coping mechanisms and resources and even medication if necessary. There are plenty of techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, and structured routines that can complement reading.

Research has shown that healthy eating habits, participating in daily exercise, getting a great night’s sleep and limiting screen time all go a long way to helping manage your ADHD symptoms. Limiting screen time won’t be an issue if you switch it out for a fabulous book!

Hands holding a book and a polka-dotted red mug, suggestive of a cozy reading time


Take some time out of your busy life and engage in a calming activity like reading. We love that we can exercise our brains from the comfort of our favorite armchair, reading nook, or even while snuggled up in bed!

"Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss."  - Nora Ephron

Finding engaging reading material can be challenging but don’t worry, we have got you covered with our monthly book subscription boxes. We have something for everyone! Make sure to check out our Adult, Young Adult and Tween subscriptions! You will definitely want to read our blog on finding the perfect book subscription!

Here at Once Upon a Book Club, we believe in bringing books to life, and our monthly book subscription options bring the chance of escape straight to your door. Each book box contains a fabulous book and wrapped gifts labeled with corresponding page numbers, which have been carefully selected to bring the pages to life! It’s like having a birthday every month! But that’s not all—each box contains lots of extras!

We have monthly subscription options, so finding the perfect solution has never been easier. Choose from our Month to Month, which is billed monthly, or from our 3, 6, or 12-month subscription plans. A Once Upon a Book Club subscription is a gift everyone deserves.