Fresh thinking on reading and learning issues.
Benefits of Reading
July 1, 2014 by Geoff Nixon
Strong Reading Skills Are An Essential Life Skill
If children do not reading programs for kids in elementary school, they will almost certainly encounter difficulties throughout their schooling. And when they leave school, they enter the working world lacking the skills they need to find a job, develop financial independence, and take their places as citizens, parents and workers.
In early life, a key benefit of strong reading skills is that your child will read. Skilled readers end up reading many millions more words than struggling readers, an incredible advantage in knowledge, vocabulary, high stakes tests and understanding of life, which carries through college and into life.
Reading Is A Good Workout
Just like muscles, the brain benefits from a good workout. And reading is more neurobiologically demanding than watching TV or listening to the radio. “A sentence is shorthand for a lot of information that must be inferred by the brain.” In general, your intelligence is called into action, as is greater concentration.
“We are forced to construct, to produce narrative, to imagine,” says Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University and author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “Typically, when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language — when you watch a film or listen to a tape — you don’t press pause.”
A literate mind is a more complex one. “There’s a richness that reading gives you,” Wolf says, “an opportunity to probe more than any other medium I know of. Reading is about not being content with the surface.” In Anne E. Cunningham’s paper What Reading Does for the Mind (pdf version), she found that reading, in general, makes you smarter, and it keeps you sharp as you age.
Reading also helps to build concentration and attention skills. No matter what you’re wanting to do or become, you can’t do it without more knowledge. Reading is an excellent way to get where you’re wanting to go.
Reading Builds Vocabulary
Remember in elementary school when you learned how to infer the meaning of one word by reading the context of the other words in the sentence? You get the same benefits from reading a book. While reading books, especially challenging ones, you will find yourself exposed to many new words you wouldn’t be otherwise.
Reading Helps Self Esteem
Another one of the key reading benefits is that the more you read, the more knowledgeable you become. With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self esteem. So it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well read, people look to you for answers. Your feelings about yourself can only get better.
Reading Improves Creativity
Reading about the diversity of life and exposing yourself to new ideas and more information helps to develop the creative side of the brain as it imbibes innovation into your thinking process, perhaps the best reading benefit of all.