As an avid book reader, I have always felt that reading allows you an advantage over non-readers. Not only do you have a treasure trove of information in your mind but you see the world through multiple perspectives. And for all this, I believe I have my parents to thank for. My father for serving as an inspiration and my mother for encouraging me to read. My reading habits developed at quite an early age and the love for reading grew and grew over the years. Now as a parent, I strongly believe in instilling the love to read in my children. Many in my circles think that it is too early to expect my child to read. While I don’t expect him to start reading but I still want him to love books and reading. People ask me why I think children should read? Here is why.
The one observation I have made time and again regarding us Pakistanis is our lack of empathy. Oh yes, we empathize with people we love but empathy is to see other’s point of view, even when we do not see eye to eye with them. In a world where news is manipulated to serve the interests and viewpoint of a select few, reading can help bring the world together through a shared empathy. Books like Khalid Hosseni’s Kite Runner open us to a world we may otherwise never see. Reading allows us to see a glimpse of other people’s world and even though, we may never agree with their world but we should be able to accept that they exist and see the world through their lens. In times like these where mass killing and hate crimes are rampant in the world, we need our children to read. Reading can bring back the compassion, we are sorely missing, in such times.
A research conducted by social psychologists, Emanuele Castano and David Kidd, from the New School for Social Research in New York, reveals that literary fiction readers have a higher empathy when compared to genre fiction readers.
According to neuroscientists at Emory University, reading helps build imagination in the same way athelets build muscle memory in sports (through exercsing more). Books take you to another world. With a book in your hands, it is not difficult to imagine a world where one young Harry Potter beats a seasoned magician, Voldermont. Not only that, reading has you imagining the world through your eyes. For example, when a reader reads about a green landscape, he imagines his own shades of green. This is what makes reading all the more magical; everyone creates their own world in different shades.
Maybe it is just me but reading has always managed to lift my spirits. Even as a child, when I got into a fight with my sisters, reading helped bring my mood to normal. When you are reading, you tend to forget your own problems and hide in another world for some time. According to a study, reading for 6 minutes can bring down your heart rate to normal and even ease the tension off your muscles. While most children do not normally face stress but it can gear them up for the difficult years ahead.
Sometimes I feel that I am a walking dictionary for some of my friends and even my husband. Whenever they come up with a difficult word, they don’t Google it. They ask me directly. In most cases, I am able to explain the meaning of the word. The strong vocabulary that I have developed over the years has come from always having a book to read in my spare time. Some parents even encourage their children to keep a dictionary while reading a book. Personally, I believe that it destroys the fun in reading. When we read quite often, we automatically understand the meaning of the words through their context. My advice is to keep the dictionary in the classroom and make vocabulary development a natural part of the reading process.
Work out for the mind
Movie lovers argue that when you can watch the entire story in less than two hours, why waste your time in reading the entire novel? Well, here is news for you. Reading helps improve brain functioning. Unlike movies, books allow readers to pause between sentences to let their meaning sink it. This allows for more insight and propels the brain into inference. Thus, reading is actually food for the brain.
I am pretty sure there are other benefits of reading but I believe in today’s world, these are the most important. While the rest of the world is trying to appear different, a reader does not have to try. He feels a little apart from the world, seeing it from a different perspective. And I strongly believe that in these times, seeing the world from a different angle could be a game changer for success.
If you want to know which books to start with, join my reading club. I have a Book of the Month column on my blog where I post children books worth reading with your children. You can also subscribe to my blog to receive updates of Book of the Month.
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7 reasons why children should read