A brain on books is proven to be better than a brain without books.
Statistics show that a quarter of Americans have not read a single book in the past 12 months. Come on now, we need to be reading a lot more!
Here are 10 game-changing and incredible reasons you should be reading more – by yourself and out loud to your children:
I encourage you to click on the included links to read more (that’s what this post is about, right!)
- Ward off Alzheimer’s(?) Keeping your brain stimulated and active is healthy and has long-term benefits. There isn’t a cause and effect correlation between reading and Alzheimer’s, but scientists have found that those who exercised their brain had delayed declines.
- Relaxing What is this word ‘relax’ I speak of? Maybe you are more familiar with the word ‘anxiety’….Bibliotherapy is a long established treatment for anxiety and depression. As for relaxation, our friends across the pond found that 38% of the population in the UK believes reading is a better stress remedy than drinking a glass of wine, a warm bath, or even going out with friends.
On a personal note I’d like to add that chocolate, when combined with reading, is my favorite and go-to stress-buster.
- Boosts brain power A study done at Carniege Mellon University found that participants who read daily for 6 months had more white matter in the language area of their brain. White matter is like the subway in your brain. Its best illustrated by this: you could walk 10 blocks to the library but taking the subway is faster. White matter connects different areas grey matter to the cerebrum.Faster connections are always good, right? Faster Internet connection? Great! Faster commute? Sweet! Faster information connecting in your brain? Yes please!
- Order Reading aloud to young child helps them learn order & sequences of events. Reading is structured and ordered because it has a beginning, middle, and end. Structure from a book encourages their little minds to process things in sequence, linking to cause and effect.The word “ordered” is probably not how you would define your kids. However, for young children to understand how their actions are a part of cause & effect in the world, they should read about it. Stories are tools we can use to impart wisdom. Wisdom is defined as the understanding of how things are connected. That sounds a little like cause and effect to me.
- Sleep Better What parent doesn’t love sleep? All of us would love sleeping even better.A calming routine before bed is proven to you sleep better. Part of that routine can include reading. Did you know light produced from devices prevents melatonin from being produced? Your body needs the hormone melatonin released to tell your body it’s nighttime. Additionally, television and computer content consumed before sleep can negatively impact your quality of sleep.There is a host of content against keeping your phone in bed with you all the time. It creates hypervigilance, disconnected marriages, radiation exposure, and simply less sleep.
- Vivid Imagination Imagine this:In the summertime, the shade of so many clustering branches, meeting and intermingling across the rivulet, was deep enough to produce a noon twilight. Hence came the name of Shadow Brook. But now, ever since autumn had crept into this secluded place, all the dark verdure was changed to gold, so that it really kindled up the dell, instead of shading it. The bright yellow leaves, even had it been a cloudy day, would have seemed to keep the sunlight among them; and enough of them had fallen to strew all the bed and margin of the brook with sunlight too. Thus the shady nook, where summer had cooled herself, was now the sunniest spot anywhere to be found. – Greek Myths A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
You can easily imagine this secluded nook. Maybe it takes you back to a place you have been before? Perhaps it soothes your soul or is a spot you would like to visit? This passage, like all great imaginary authors’ text, brings your mind to places it might not otherwise go. Imaginary description not only highlights the beauty of creation but also the imagination of the Creator.
- Greater focus It’s awesome that kids today don’t have to lug around huge backpacks full of 2 inch thick books for 7 or 8 classes. Now they read textbooks online – on their phones, school iPads or computers or on home devices. The move from bulky textbooks is good (for space saving and back breaking) but unfortunately there is a lot of research that suggests we don’t remember the information we read from a screen as well as we do from a book.Reading a book requires intentional focus. But we are such a distracted society, how do expect a kid to read a textbook on their phone when text messages/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat updates are flashing on top of their text? Are you thinking it’s ironic you’re reading this on a computer right now?
- Empathy grows How many of you have cried while you read a book? When I read ‘Israel My Beloved’ by Kay Arthur, I was such a hot mess at one point my husband told me I had to stop reading it. When we connect with characters, we feel what they feel and struggle as they struggle. Our empathy grows.The world is desperate for more empathetic people.
I believe its possible to connect with more characters in books than face to face personal connections in life. This is due to the beautiful attribute books have where characters share all of themselves with us. They hold nothing back and leave nothing to inference. In life most of us have learned the hard lesson we cannot share all of ourselves with every person we meet. Not the case in books.
- Increased social awareness When a person’s empathy increases their social awareness grows equally. What is social awareness? It is the ability to understand and respond to the needs of others. Responding to the needs in the community, schools, churches, neighborhood, and more. Generally speaking, a person who is exceptionally socially aware can serve in a greater capacity. This is over simplifying, but if our children are socially aware of their community needs it suggests that they have a greater potential to be leaders and world changers.There a ton of books that highlight the injustices in society. A classic Dicken’s novel would be a great place to start.
- Bond When you discuss a book together you get the blessed relief of talking, not lecturing. Talking about characters with poor choices could have a greater impact on them then any lecture. Reading aloud to them can help you and your children pull apart the messy knot that difficult topics can feel like. Plus, it’s much safer to read about characters that make less than stellar choices than having your child go through them on their own.
In the end, reading alone or reading aloud to your children is not going to solve every problem. But it’s a great place to start, and if nothing else to simply enjoy being close to one another. Parenting is tough, it’s easy to lose the joy in the day to day, but when you bravely set aside precious time to be near each other; this is where change happens.