The Benefits of Reading for Children and Adults
I slide my fingers through the pages looking for the folded corner in my book to disappear from reality for a while and become a French girl, living in the nineteenth century, fighting dragons… Why settle for living one single life when through reading you could live so many more?
Reading is one of the healthiest habits and can provide us with great benefits for life. Getting children to love reading is one of the best gifts parents can give and the best way to do so is leading by example. Here are some book ideas for children 4 – 14.
It is scientifically proven that our brains are modified by reading. Laura Cohen, a researcher at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), argues that “There is no innate brain system specialized in reading, we have to do it ourselves by using systems that already exist.” When we read, our brains are fully functioning, especially the left hemisphere. As well as other areas such as the occipital lobe (visual processing), the temporal lobe (headquarters of memory and emotions), the parietal lobe (in charge of mental rotation) and the frontal lobe (key piece for reasoning, planning, etc.).
Reading provides us with an excellent cognitive reserve by favoring the creation and strengthening of neural connections, therefore preventing future neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Concentration, memory, learning also benefit from reading. Books have a great emotional component, drawing readers in, motivating them, and making reading a playful tool to enhance these areas that are so important to school life.
It allows us to remove ourselves from daily stresses and relax. When we lower our activity level we reduce the release of cortisol, our stress hormone. This helps to calm our emotions so our brain can think more rationally and more objectively seek solutions to everyday problems.
Our creativity develops because our minds build and design all of the scenarios, characters, and details that are narrated in each line. This indulgence in fantasy also helps us to empathize because, unconsciously, we put ourselves in the shoes of the characters and experience their emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Therefore we understand the reasons for their actions.
We become smarter, more educated and more intriguing people. We improve our vocabulary and writing, allowing us to embark on diverse and various conversations regardless of the race, gender, age or educational level of our listener – a highly valued trait in today’s society.
Having a book on our bedside table is one of the best ways to fall asleep. Establishing a reading habit 20-30 minutes before bed helps your brain prepare for, and schedule, sleep. As our body relaxes, our mind frees itself from daily tensions, nourishes itself on the developing stories and feels new emotions which makes sleep more pleasant and restful.
Reading is our faithful friend and confidant that will accompany us throughout life. In books, we seek questions, answers, and inspiration to create new goals and objectives. They guide our way when we are lost, we connect with our authentic selves, and we feel reflected in the characters that invite us in. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ”On many occasions reading a book has made a man’s fortune, deciding the course of his life.”
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney