The following pages will explore how reading helps us, tips for reading and activities revolving around reading.
At Leamington we consider reading to be essential to all learning and school life. We place a huge importance on not only teaching our children to read but also the joys of reading for pleasure.
So why should we read?
The following list gives a brief insight to why books are important to children but there are many more benefits for children developing a love of reading:
- Books and stories fill a child’s mind with knowledge
- Sitting down with a book provides children with a time for quiet and calmness in their busy lives
- Stories provoke curiosity and discussion
- Listening to stories assists in the development of literacy skills and language development
- Reading provides parents with more opportunities to bond with their children
- Books provide thoughts, inspiration and reflection
- Exposure to books can help the understanding of print concept (i.e. left to right, top to bottom)
- Stories can stimulate imagination and play
- Picture books help to develop an appreciation for art and writing
- Reading a variety of books exposes children to a wide variety of language features and vocabulary
We live in an age where we can sit for hours binging on TV box sets or surfing social media pages. Despite these distractions reading still remains a popular pastime. We know reading is good for helping us improve our literacy and offers great entertainment but what other benefits can it offer?
- Personalities: Intriguing characters often hook us into a story but reading helps us to develop our own ideas and personalities as we compare our own reactions and beliefs to those in the story. Characters guide us through wonderful new worlds giving us the chance to evaluate ourselves along the way. In children’s stories you can be exposed to brand new emotions and situations. Take Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for example Alice introduces us to the strange world of Wonderland. To younger readers, her wild journey through Wonderland where very little makes sense can feel as baffling and mysterious as the real world. Characters are rude and difficult to understand and even Alice can be stubborn and impolite. However by being exposed to these behaviours, children can discover and develop their own personalities.
- Health: Reading does more than help us to learn about our own personalities, it’s good for our health too. Studies show that our emotional intelligence can increase as we understand a range of perspectives and motivations. Some evidence shows that mental stimulation is one of the factors that can delay the onset of dementia and reading is one of the activities that can help keep the brain active. When we read we create mental recreations of the activities, sights and sounds of scenes in the story, mixing these with our own experiences and memories. Research also suggests that reading for just 30mins a week increases health and wellbeing. Reading for pleasure can improve our confidence and self –esteem, providing the foundation we need to pursue our goals and make life decisions. It can even help our sleep and reduce feelings of loneliness.
- Knowledge: Reading is a great way of taking you to a new world. We could read historic accounts of the Berlin Wall or the transcontinental railroad but they wouldn’t captivate us in the way as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Pride and Prejudice does. We can watch these stories unfold on the screen through film and TV adaptations but when we read them, we actively engage with the subject, characters and surroundings. So even if our first though for picking up a book is to escape everyday life or to relax we are actually broadening our knowledge, even if we don’t realise that’s what is happening.
- Memory: Reading can be great for your memory as it works different parts of the brain than watching a film or listening to music does, including those areas dealing with vision, language and associative learning. People who read more have more complex brains, in other words reading keeps the memory sharp. As well as helping your memory in general it can help prevent Alzheimer’s. Studies show a link between exercising you’re your brain in a mentally challenging way like reading and a slower decline a slower decline in memory. Therefore the more you read and stimulate your brain, the more you can protect your memory.
- Stress: According to researches reading for just 6 mins can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. The study found people that read after having their stress levels elevated became more relaxed than those that tried other stress relievers like walking or listening to music. It doesn’t matter what book you pick up, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the realm of the authors imagination.
- Attention: With so many modern distractions, i.e. computer games, television, internet, social media etc. it isn’t a surprise people have shorter attention spans than we used to. Reading can help with that especially where children are concerned. The structure of a story (a beginning, a middle and an end) helps children’s brains process things in sequence and link cause to effect, which ultimately helps them think more clearly and hold their attention longer.