We all learned at a very young age that reading is essential however I never truly understood the benefits of reading. After some research, I discovered the truth as to why is reading books important.
Oh sure we learn to read and write in school and those skills are needed to take our examinations to graduate high school and possibly pursue higher education. One must continue to read after.
But what are the benefits of reading books after high school?
I have always been an avid reader.
I remember learning to read and being fascinated with the stories I found within the pages.
I quickly became a book connoisseur and rapidly devoured books, I couldn’t get enough. It seemed the more I read the more I wanted to read.
A library became my second home. I would spend hours scouring the shelves for just the right book and often would sign out six or seven at a time and still had them all read in plenty of time to return them on time or even early.
My daughter and granddaughters are the same.
The biggest difference would be that my granddaughters are bi-lingual so can read both English and French books.
I am so proud of them for that, they do not have bi-lingual parents, they learned at school in the French-immersion program.
Now that they are older(teens), they can babysit French as well as English kids which our community appreciates.
In this article, we will examine what reading really does for us beyond school…
Strengthens the Brain
This should be a no-brainer.
Research has shown that reading actually strengthens the brain.
MRI studies have shown actual changes in brain structure as a result of regular reading.
Let’s take a closer look at how reading benefits us in our daily lives.
Just like any other muscle in the body, our brains need to be regularly exercised to continue functioning at peak performance.
This is where the phrase “Use it or lose it” is particularly important.
Engaging in activities such as reading, puzzles, crosswords are not just fun activities. They are actually entertaining ways of exercising the brain.
Playing chess also helps maintain brain cognition.
Increases your ability to empathize
When you read fiction you are better able to identify with the characters and develop the ability to better understand the feelings and beliefs of others.
This ability is called the “theory of mind” and is a set of skills essential to building, navigating and maintaining social relationships
Research has shown that long-term fiction readers tend to develop a stronger theory of mind.
Since the 1960s, researchers have been discussing what they refer to as the Mathew Effect.
This is a term that simply refers to the bible verse Mathew 13:12, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”
We usually interpret this verse as referring to money but it is just as relevant when referring to vocabulary.
The more we read, the more we are exposed to new words and phrases which in turn helps expand our vocabulary.
Building a strong vocabulary can have a strong effect on our entire life in everything from scores on standardized tests, college admissions and even job opportunities.
Whether we are students or building our careers, we all have stress. Taking time out of your day to read a well-written novel can transport us to a different time and place without ever leaving our desks.
By becoming engaged in the story we can significantly lower our blood pressure, allow the tensions to dissipate and we can relax.
Have you ever gotten lost within the pages of a great book, found yourself transformed into a different place and time?
How did you feel after that session of reading?
I have often gotten lost within the pages of a really great novel and when I put the book down afterwards I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day’s stresses again with a renewed spirit.
Helps Prevent Age-related Cognitive Decline
According to the National Institute on Aging, reading books and magazines is a good way to keep your mind engaged as you age.
While it is unclear whether reading can prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, studies have shown that seniors who read and solve math problems daily improve their cognitive functioning.
A 2013 study conducted by Rush University Medical Center found that people who engaged in mentally stimulating activities throughout their lives were less likely to develop the plaques, lesions and other dysfunctions found in the brains of dementia patients.
This suggests the earlier you start reading the better for your overall brain health.
This is of most importance…
Everything you read fills your head with new information.
You can learn to repair your vehicle from reading or even to learn how to program a computer.
Any craft or trade you wish to learn to do you can learn it by reading even without going to college. Yes by all means go to college but continue to read after college to become better at what you do.
Reading can also be bad for you.
You learn about both local and worldwide events when you read a newspaper or magazine article. But one should also judge the source of the writer or even the News Broadcasting Station before listening.
Many of the mainstream News Broadcasters today (I will not mention their names for obvious reasons) are paid to say things for propaganda reasons. They are bought out by those in control which I will not go into but like a book, you must judge the material by the source.
There is no law against writing fiction.
Here’s a quick story…
Back in the ’40s when people only had a radio to listen to the radio station would often read a story where many families would gather around to listen.
The radio station decided to read a new fictional story on the air without indicating that it was a story.
The story started off SOUNDING like a news broadcast and after the first day, they had caused a total panic among the people.
It became so intense they had to go back on the air and explain it was all fake and was just a story.
The name of the book as many of you may already know is called War Of The Worlds
That incident truly shows the power of propaganda.
Even a fictional novel may have its setting in a historical time period or event which required the author to do extensive research to get the background details of the story as accurate as possible.
This makes it possible to learn about the Korean war from a fictional story as I did with “Message from Nam” by Danielle Steele.
Knowledge is something that can never be taken from you.
And when it’s compared to learning the hard way on your own it can save you many years and mistakes by learning from someone else.
To me, that makes it priceless.
You can learn self-improvement or business management by reading biographies of great business leaders.
All my knowledge of making a living online I learned by reading. But just like everything you read, you must judge the source of the material.
There are plenty of online programs to learn how to make money online however the majority of them are fake.
When you read a book you must remember the characters or events that happened within the chapters or maybe details of the setting.
Every story spins a web of plot and sub-plots that you need to remember to follow along in the story.
The amazing thing is that every new memory created forges new brain pathways and strengthens existing pathways. All these assist in short-term memory recall while also stabilizing moods.
Develop Analytical Thinking Skills
Have you ever gotten so involved in a fabulous mystery novel and found yourself solving the mystery before the end of the book?
This requires critical and analytical thinking processes to work. You were able to take note of all the details and sort them out to determine your own hypothesis on “whodunnit”.
It takes that same critical thinking to critique a plot, decide whether it was well-written, decide if the characters were developed satisfactorily and whether the storyline ran smoothly or not.
Taking the time to really consider all the aspects involved will enable you to intelligently state your opinions clearly if allowed to discuss the book with others.
This also improves over time.
Improve Concentration and Focus
In today’s fast-paced world, our attention and focus are pulled in a million different directions as we multi-task through each day.
It’s common for a person to split their time between checking email, chatting on messenger, Twitter, monitor their smartphone while interacting with co-workers all within a five-minute time span.
This type of ADD-related behaviour certainly adds significantly to our monumental stress levels while decreasing our productivity.
When you take the time to read a book, all your attention is focused on the story, making the rest of the world seemingly disappear.
This is very important because it dramatically reduces our stress as we immerse ourselves completely in every fine detail of the story.
After reading a great story we are left feeling refreshed and energized.
Improve Writing Skills
How does reading improve your writing skills?
Well, we have already discussed how it expands our vocabulary.
It stands to reason that with an expanded vocabulary we are better able to express ourselves with the written word as well.
Being exposed to published, well-written work can affect our own writing.
Observing another author’s style, cadence or fluidity will ultimately affect your own work.
Just as musicians influence one another or painters learn techniques used by masters, writers also learn how to craft prose by reading the works of others.
If you want to learn to write in a certain genre then read several books or articles written and published in that same genre.
You will begin to recognize and emulate the linguistic patterns used in that style of writing.
Spiritual texts can actually lower blood pressure and create a sense of calm.
Reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and mild mental illness.
I personally witnessed this with my youngest son.
He was suffering from depression and anxiety. The combination of talking with his father and reading self-help books has helped him immensely.
Did it happen overnight?
Of course not, but over a period of time, he has been able to turn his life around and get on the right track.
He is now functioning very well and has even taken on a leadership role at work.
If you or someone you love is suffering from depression or any mental illness it is important to seek a professional.
I am not in any way a medical practitioner, please do not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. We only share our experiences.
While many of us like to buy books it is not always necessary.
I mentioned earlier that a public library became like a second home to me because I enjoyed reading so much.
There is no limit to the number of books you can borrow from a library.
Oh, they may only allow a certain number at a time but once you return the books you borrowed you can then borrow more.
This made sense to me because you can only read so much at a time.
This eliminates having to purchase books so even someone on the tightest budget can enjoy reading.
Types of Books
There are many types of books on any subject you can think of.
I love a good fiction story.
Fiction is usually a narrative form consisting of people, events or places that are imaginary or not based strictly on history or fact.
A fiction novel may include some historical elements but a major part of the story or characters is made up.
They are usually a very entertaining and enjoyable read.
Nonfiction can be any document or media content that intends in good faith to present only truth and accuracy regarding information, events or people.
These facts may sometimes be presented in a story format but the details are as factually accurate as possible.
A biography (Bio for short) is simply a detailed description of a person’s life.
If you are looking to get established in business it can be a great benefit to read the biography of successful business leaders.
An authorized biography is written with the permission, cooperation and sometimes the participation of the subject or their heirs.
An autobiography is written by the person themself sometimes with the assistance of a collaborator or ghostwriter.
According to Wikipedia comic is a medium that expresses narratives using a series of still images often combined with text. It usually takes the form of a sequence of panels of images. Textual devices such as speech balloons, captions and onomatopoeia can indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects or other information.
Paper Books vs E-readers or Audio Books
Some experts state that there is evidence that reading traditional books may offer benefits not associated with e-readers or audiobooks.
Much of Daniel’s research is focused on the ways people absorb and process information within educational settings.
In one 2010 study, he found students who listened to an audio version of a test performed worse on a comprehension quiz than students who had read the same text on paper.
His work clearly shows that the freedom to be able to briefly pause and reread or consider a sentence sets reading apart from audiobooks.
Children and Reading
We are all aware it’s recommended that parents read with their children beginning in early infancy and continuing throughout their elementary school years.
Reading with your children not only strengthens your relationship with your child but helps to build a warm and happy association with books which can increase the likelihood of them enjoying reading beyond childhood.
Reading at home can help boost school performance while also helping increase vocabulary, raise self-esteem, help build strong communication skills and overall strengthen the developing brain.
I have always encouraged my children to read. My daughter followed in my footsteps and became quite the bookworm.
She started really getting into reading with The Babysitters Club series and then would read everything.
To this day, she is still an avid reader regularly consuming books voraciously. Her daughters are the same.
I struggled to find books my sons would read.
The trick was to find books that interested them.
My oldest son liked books about hockey players. He was born in 1982 and grew up watching and playing hockey so any books relating to hockey were a hit with him.
Our two middle sons were not interested in sports.
One of them enjoyed the Goosebumps series of books. They appealed to his sense of mystery.
Finding something to read for one of the boys was a challenge but when the Harry Potter books came out he really took to them.
Our youngest son was a hunting and fishing enthusiast and will read anything that involves hunting, fishing or nature.
Getting children to read comes down to understanding what they are interested in.
As adults, they are all readers. Some more than others.
So perhaps one can understand “Why is reading books important?”
Reading can help develop our brain and keep it functioning well even as we age.
Reading books also helps us:
- to exercise our brain to help prevent age-related dementia and slow cognitive decline
- increase our ability to empathize with others
- build vocabulary
- reduce stress
- increase knowledge
- improve memory
- develop critical thinking and analytical skills
- improve concentration and focus
- aid in relaxation
- is a cheap source of entertainment
Reading with our children is important in helping in developing an appreciation of books.
If you take the time to find the types of stories your child enjoys you can help develop that love of reading they can carry with them throughout life.
And the types of books available are just unlimited. There’s one for everyone.
What types of books do you like to read?
When did you begin reading?
Do you read daily?
Leave your answers in the comment section below.