Reading Books is Not Just For Kids
I read about a book a week. This year has been more difficult with the family at home most of the year. Some are stinkers, some are great, but with each completed work, I take away something. The characters fade away, but the reason for reading gets me to open another book.
We understand, intuitively, that children need to read and/or be read to establish their vocabulary, develop their imagination, improve their literacy skills, and entertain them, but what about us? Why do I recommend to my family that they pick up a book? It is not just to get them off their devices. I have reasons, I just didn’t know what they were until I did some research. So the top ten reasons I will now recommend to my family to read:
Free entertainment. You can borrow a book from the library or from a little library on the side of the road, or from a friend. There are also wonderful fiction blogs you could find with a quick google search. If you’re in the mood for a romance story, fantasy, horror, or whodunit, budding writers will post flash fiction or short stories that can scratch that itch and you are done when you get to the bottom of that coffee.
Develops your imagination. Imagination feels like something for children, but it really influences everything we do. The best leaders from academia, arts, business, even parenting find imaginative and creative solutions to problems. By reading, you stretch that muscle.
Improves your memory. There is a lot to remember in a plot as you follow a story. And if you put the book down for any length of time, you could keep the information that Susan, the lead’s cousin’s neighbor who has leukaemia, recently got a tattoo. If your sister told you that a friend’s cousin’s neighbor had leukaemia and was getting a tattoo, would you remember it? Not likely. But by reading, you are retraining yourself to fire those synapses and develop brand new pathways, strengthening both the old and the fresh ways of retrieving brain information.
Helps communication skills. Being articulate and finding the right word is not only career gold, it is relationship gold. As I age, I stumble over my words more than I care to admit, finding them eventually. Being able to get to the right word means there are fewer misunderstandings.
Mental stimulation. Reading slows the progress of degenerative brain disorders like dementia. Use it or lose it, your trainer would say. Consider me your brain trainer and I tell you to use that brain muscle or lose it. :)
Stress reduction. Reading has proven health benefits:
“Reading is found to decrease blood pressure, lower heart rate, and reduce stress to significant degrees. According to a 2009 study at the University of Sussex, stress is reduced up to 68% just by reading! Only six minutes of reading can slow down the heart rate and improve overall health!”
Knowledge. You never know when the insights you glean from a book might show up in your life. A dinner conversation, a personal growth opportunity, a fact that will help you solve a problem or win an argument. Not everything can be solved with “Hey, Google.” Pick up a book.
Improves your focus and concentration skills. Our society has rewarded our ADD-like behavior. We are constantly checking our phones, switching channels, moving from one activity to another to keep ourselves from getting bored. But all this causes stress and an inability to concentrate. Sitting with a book forces you to use your focus to keep the story straight. We’ve all had the experience of reading and our brain wanders and we can’t remember what we just read. We go back, try again, and it happens again. #1, that book or passage is a bore and you should move on anyway, but #2, we go back. We attempt to get through the words and make them make sense for us. We focus and get the job done. We force ourselves to concentrate and learn. Reading works that skill for us.
Improves writing skills. With our lives more and more devoted to the written word via text and email, it is important to not misconstrue or mis-communicate. You wouldn’t ask someone to pick up the harmonica and make beautiful music. Practice makes perfect and writing is no different.
Stronger analytical and thinking skills. Think of a whodunit. We read it while we attempt to put the pieces of the puzzle together in our own minds to outwit the narrator. When we talk about a book with others, it gives us the ability to form thoughts clearly, concisely, and analytically. We wouldn’t summarize a book over ten hours. We get to the pertinent facts only, don’t give away the ending, but add the flair to sell the story. These are skills that help with life — work, school, parenting, friendships. We think of outcomes and analyze our options to select the best course of action. Reading massages those skills and makes them available to us in our daily lives.
Obviously, I am biased. I love to read and try to carve out at least an hour a day to lose myself in another person’s words. But even six minutes, and we can all find that, will give you benefits that those apps cannot provide. You don’t need the brain trainer, the meditation app, a game, the grammar checker, Wikipedia, or a thesaurus. You need to read. One app, all paper, available without wifi.