Books are magic. A book takes you on a journey, teaches you something new, and ignites your imagination. For babies and children, reading has innumerable advantages in early language and literacy development and reading as an adult continues to expand your worldview and has measurable impacts on relationships, health, and happiness. Are you itching to crack the spine on a new story? To help you celebrate National Reading Month, we compiled a list of the top 4 benefits of reading every single day.
Books are good for the brain
Reading a book helps your brain to forge connections. Following an argument in a non-fiction title or piecing together the characters and events of a story requires mental exercise and builds neural pathways that improve memory function, increase mental acuity, and ward off aging and dementia. A Yale School of Public Health study in 2012 found that people who read books for as little as 30 minutes every day were living an average of two years longer than people who didn’t read anything at all.
Reading jumpstarts language & literacy development
Reading to toddlers and young children has a direct effect on early literacy and language development. 26 percent of children who were read to three or four times a week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet, compared to only 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently. The National Center for Education Statistics also reported that children who are frequently read to are more likely to count to 20, name colors, and write their own names.
It’s never too early for story-time. Reading regularly with children from infancy introduces new sounds and rhythms that speed auditory and linguistic development and challenge infants’ brains to create neural connections. Listening to stories helps develop children’s phonological memory, the ability to remember spoken information. Children who are read to have also been shown to have greater attention spans and concentration.
Related blog: Where to Enjoy Poetry for National Poetry Month
Books open doors to the world
Reading can expose you to cultures, landscapes, and experiences beyond your daily life. Readers, especially those who choose to read from diverse perspectives, have a stronger and more engaged awareness of social issues and cultural diversity than non-readers. In fact, regular readers reported 57 percent greater cultural awareness and 21 percent more general knowledge. A Quick Reads report conducted in 2015 showed that readers were more comfortable with strangers, found it easier to start conversations, and enjoyed these interactions more.
Not sure where to start in building a more inclusive book list? Check out the National Book Foundation’s list of National Book Award Winners. The NBF is known for its inclusivity and recognition of women writers and people of color, so it won’t take too much searching to find new voices and perspectives to explore. At Strand Books, an independent bookstore and NYC institution, diversity is also a hallmark of the event calendar. Visit their downtown location to meet authors from all walks of life and be introduced to new titles for adults and kids alike.
Books make us better
Searching for self-care and trying to be the best you? Let books into your life. Regular reading is known to increase empathy and emotional awareness. Fiction, in particular, has the power to help readers to look outside themselves by reading and inhabiting characters’ minds and emotions. Regular readers have been found to be more creative and imaginative.
Beyond the science, reading for pleasure can also be a source of quiet, solace, and joy. In finding time for reading, we make time for ourselves, and this has benefits in increased calm and happiness. As the English writer Samuel Johnson once wrote, “The true aim of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
Convinced by the benefits of reading and wanting to get your hands on a good book? For books, authors, and reading news, be sure to check out NYXT content partners the National Book Foundation and Strand Books and visit our Community Event Calendar for literary happenings around NYC.
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