Reading for joy, health and success

ReadingUnderTreeThe idea of reading for joy, health and success may be an unimportant activity for many people in this modern world filled with pressures, demands and gadgets.

But maybe we should give a second thought to the many values reading can add to our life.

A post on this site in August, 2015 reported on recent studies demonstrating the necessity of literacy skills, not only for health and success—but for pleasure and relaxation.

This post is a reminder.

The studies show that there is a correlation between reading for pleasure regularly and lower levels of stress and depression.

Dedicated readers ‘escape’ from their problems for a time and immerse themselves in other times and places.

Reading for pleasure increases our understanding of ourselves, and improves empathy and connectness to others and the human condition.

What reader has not shed a tear, laughed, thrilled and identified with other humans?

As an added health bonus, surveys also show that frequent readers have a lower incidence of dementia in later life.

And there is very strong evidence linking reading for pleasure— with educational and social outcomes.

The International Reading Association states that the ability to read and write has never been more critical:

Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st Century will need to read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens and conduct their personal lives.

They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations so they can create the world of the future.

In a complex and sometimes dangerous world, the ability to read can be crucial. (International Reading Association)

The Association notes, however, that the many benefits of reading are more likely to be felt when reading is a free choice.

Parents cannot begin too early to provide a home reading environment for their children. Read to your little ones and read with them long before they start school.

Most children will acquire tastes they are first exposed to, whether it’s healthful food for the body, or thoughtful food for the mind and soul (brain health).

And the rewards will most likely be great.

Young people who enjoy reading very much are nearly five times as likely to read above the expected level for their age compared to young people who do not enjoy reading at all. (National Literary Trust, 2011)

The benefits of reading are far reaching for young people (and all people), giving access to history, culture and the universe.

The imagination is stimulated by words in a way that is not possible with television and video.

Keep in mind that television is a passive activity. Reading is an active activity that puts the brain to work.

Sources: ReadingAgency.org.uk, Schools.natlib.govt.nz.