The Magic of Reading
If you ask anyone if it is important to read, they will say ‘What a stupid question – of course it is important to read. Everybody should know how to read.’
But there’s more to it than knowing HOW to read.
The great novelist, Stephen King, said ‘Books are a uniquely portable form of magic.’
And what is the key to that form of magic? Reading. Let’s think about why that is. What is magical about reading?
Reading is a wonderful way to relax.
The University of Sussex has found that just a few minutes of reading can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds. Cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis revealed that reading lowers stress levels by an amazing 68%. Compare that to the 21% achieved by playing video games and it is easy to see why we should be ensuring that we would be doing ourselves and our children a giant favour by adding reading into the daily routine.
Reading exercises the brain.
Researchers have found that being engrossed in a book enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. They scanned people’s brains before, during and after a reading session. They found that the areas of the brain associated with language and comprehension light up when we read. Interestingly, those same areas stay lit up for some time after we stop reading. Our brains are processing and storing information and building understanding for several hours, even days sometimes, after we finish reading. Children who read often and widely become better readers, more fluent and more expressive, because their brains make connections more easily.
Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind.
When we read our brains have to concentrate on the words, on the process of reading and that distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart. Isn’t that magical?
This is an important point. These days we seem to have forgotten how to relax and especially how to be silent. When we have time to ourselves, we have a tendency to veg out in front of some sort of screen. I have to admit that I am guilty of this. It is actually quite stressful for our brains and can interfere with our sleeping. Reading, in silence, black print on a white page is much less stressful for our eyes and brains. That is why a bedtime story has always been such a good idea.
Reading is a great form of entertainment.
Whatever your interest, there is a book about it. There are millions and millions of books easily available in a variety of forms.
A book doesn’t take up much space so you can take it anywhere. These days you carry thousands of books around easily with one of those eReaders.
Personally, I prefer the feel (and smell) of an actual book. I did, however, buy an eReader to take on holiday a couple of years ago. My husband found it and that was the end of that. He has now commandeered it as his own and carries it with him everywhere.
My mother used to say that you are never lonely or bored if you have a book to read. And she was right! You can read anywhere, anytime.
Reading improves concentration and focus.
We live in the information age. A fast-paced world where we are surrounded by gadgets feeding us words, data, statuses, links, ads and all sorts of other information that we cannot possibly process and digest. It can be an overwhelming situation, especially for children. But there is a solution – pick up a book.
Reading requires active engagement and concentration – it completely absorbs your mind. The more you train your mind to concentrate, the easier it becomes. Better concentration leads to clearer thinking.
Think about that. Reading aids in the retention of brain function as we age. We need that sort of magic.
Planning for Calm
So as part of your daily routine plan some down time – plan a reading break. It will help in the calming process. Whether you like to read while enjoying an afternoon cup of tea, or for a few minutes before you drop off to sleep, reading will relax your mind and body.
And, please, include your children in the process. Those few minutes spent snuggled up with a child reading a favourite story will be so valuable – not only to their academic and emotional growth, but also to the lifelong bonds that are forged in those moments.
Here are some books your young readers might enjoy.
Reading is an amazing form of magic that we must not forget about in this highly charged world. Enjoy it – reap its benefits every day.