From a very early age I have enjoyed reading, with some of my favourite books as a child being The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and The Famous Five (as an adult I now prefer a good crime thriller or horror). Reading has lots of benefits and something can be taken from every book you read, whether you deem it a good book, a bad book or something in-between.
Reading doesn’t just mean books; it can be books, magazines, comics or newspaper – I was always taught that it doesn’t matter what you are reading, as long as you are reading.
I often hear people say that they, or they children, “don’t like to read” or “it’s not for them”. I don’t believe that is true, I believe that they just haven’t found the right story or genre for them yet. I do believe that you just need to find that author or genre that grabs hold and sparks your interest, then you “will like to read” and “it is for you”, it may take some time, but you will find something.
Lots of pastimes and hobbies can cost money, but reading doesn’t have to as we have libraries that are free to use and borrow books (sadly not enough people are using them, meaning some are closing down or reducing services). Joining your local library is free and easy (in the UK you can find your local library here). I particularly like Honley Library in Holmfirth, Yorkshire as they do a lot of work to get the local community in and involved.
So what makes picking up a book to read worthwhile?
Fiction offers escapism – a good story lets you escape from the trials and tribulations of life and put your own problems aside or into perspective. A heart-pounding sequence in a story can provide an adrenaline rush without leaving the comfort of your own home (although I can’t guarantee no injuries if the story makes you jump!). But be warned, getting lost in a great story will see the hours fly by (and in some cases, lose you sleep as you refuse to put the book down!)
A good novel can also educate you, whether it be in life lessons, ethics, morals, dangerous situations or just learning from the character’s mistakes achievements. Children’s picture books are a great example of this. It also gives the reader the chance to question whether the character did the right or wrong thing and what they would have done in a similar situation.
For younger readers, reading a book will help with speech and language, vocabulary and language skills. And for older readers it can open up a discussion about the topics in a book.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Reading is a skill that everybody should have and will help in everything that you do in life. It is also great for helping to improve your overall intelligence (as Dr. Seuss wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”), imagination, helps with mental stimulation, expands your vocabulary, helps reduce stress (you will forgot about your own problems for a short while), improves your focus and concentration, expands your knowledge, can help improve your memory and is a great source of entertainment.
As well as helping to reduce stress levels, reading has other health benefits as it can help with lowering your blood pressure and heart rate as you are taking the time to relax, can help with fighting depression symptoms, helps improve brain connectivity, helps you sleep and can even help with preventing or slowing down cognitive decline as you get older.
You don’t even need a physical book, there are lots of eBook readers available – I love my Kindle but do prefer a proper book, especially hardbacks (I have over 300 books at home and I have no idea how many on my Kindle). There is a much more satisfying feel from a real book (and the smell of a new book) over an eBook reader (although I can carry a vast library around with me on my Kindle).
So go join your local library and find a book that sparks your interest, or pop in to a local bookshop and have a browse. While not every book you read will be good, you will gain something from every book you read.
So before you dismiss books and reading as something for bibliophiles, just think of not only the enjoyment you will get from reading but the benefits you can gain for your mental and overall health, well-being and education.