All These Benefits: Reasons to Read More (Part One)
February 18, 2014

All These Benefits: Reasons to Read More (Part One)

On a daily basis, I hear these words: “I hate reading.” Each time a student says that, my heart rips just a little bit more. Part of this is personal because I absolutely adore reading. It is one of my all-time favorite activities. Most of my ripping heart, though, comes from the fact that reading is one of the most beneficial activities we can engage in. Somewhere down the line, these students were not taught three things:

  1. how to read properly
  2. how to enjoy reading
  3. how beneficial reading is

In this series of posts, I am going to address number 3. If we understand the benefits of what we do, then maybe we will better enjoy what we do.

Okay, so let’s talk about the more serious benefits of reading first.

>Sure, this is a simple thought, but the truth of the matter is that reading is critical to learning. We learn much through reading. This is why so many parents read to their fetuses while in the womb. We innately know that reading will help teach our children. Sure, we may say we’re doing it because our doctors told us to or all the good parenting books suggest it. But deep down we read to our children because it teaches them.

Furthermore, this is also why colleges and universities are set up to read, write, and discuss. Reading teaches us stuff.

Serious Benefit #2 – Reading helps lower stress.

It’s true. The simple act of reading and focusing on what we read helps us to lower our stress levels. One Huffington Post article explains, “Research conducted in 2009 at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress, beating out old favorites such as listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and even taking a walk.” There’s just something about getting lost in a book that really calms our nerves and helps us cope with our stressful lives.

Serious Benefit #3 – Reading is totally good for the brain.

One of the best ways to keep brain activity flowing is through reading. This benefits the brain in many ways including helping to stave off disease like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Plus, it’s like exercise for the brain. We exercise our bodies to them healthy, so must we exercise our brains, and reading is one great way to do just that.

Serious Benefit #4 – Reading builds our communication skills.

Most specifically, reading helps to build our vocabulary, which in turn helps us to better communicate. Through reading we learn different words, turns of phrase, colloquialisms, and idioms. We also learn how to use such language appropriately. It’s learning, baby.

Serious Benefit #5 – Reading may help us sleep better.

Because reading provides de-stressing benefits, it is also a means of calming us down. If we practice a reading regimen before bed, we can calm ourselves enough to cue the body that it is time for some shut-eye. A dim bedside lamp and book are better than bright lights (like from a laptop) to calm the brain.

Serious Benefit #6 – Reading helps build empathy.

This probably happens as a result of how we connect to the characters, stories, and places we read about. If we have empathy for made-up people, places, and things, then naturally this will help us to have empathy for real-life people, places, and things. Again, it’s about practicing these skills, and reading helps us to practice empathy in a relatively safe venue – the comfort of our own homes.

Though there are other serious benefits, these six definitely show why we should read more. In the next part, we’ll look at the fun benefits of reading.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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