The Importance of Reading

With school out and summer here, it can be very easy for children to fall into new habits; staying up late, watching more television, and reading less. While this is common for many kids over the summer months, it is still important to encourage some form of reading when school is out.

Reading does not have to be a chapter book or a factual, historical book, it can be any book that engages your child’s mind and allows them to exercise their brain. There are many reasons why reading is important, not just during the school year but year round. Reading can…

Enhance and Develop Language Skills
Conversing with your children is vital to their communication skills, but reading to them is equally important as books can introduce your child to a vast array of words, phrases, and topics. Reading helps your child absorb information, understand basic sentence structure, and demonstrates how to effectively use words in a grammatically correct way. A study by the University of California, Berkley, showed children’s books introduce young readers to 50 percent more rare words than television.

When a parent reads to their child, the child’s auditory skills are enhancing. They are listening to the descriptive words used to paint a picture of what is happening on the page. The child also uses their auditory skills to pick up the way in which words are pronounced and used in context which will help them later when learning to communicate.

Exercise the Brain
Richard Steele once said, “reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Studies have shown that reading throughout the course of one’s life can reduce the chances of mental decline and memory deterioration. In a study done at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Robert S. Wilson, Ph.D., found that reading across a person’s life was advantageous to their overall brain health. Wilson stated, “we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves, and our parents or grandparents.”

When you read you stimulate the occipital lobe and the parietal lobe. The occipital lobe processes visual information and helps with imagination, creativity, and decision making. The parietal lobe processes sensory information, and it also helps with reading and writing by turning letters into words and words into thoughts. Reading also increases mental stimulation which can lead to the development of new neurons.

Increase Intelligence
Reading can introduce many different types of information whether it is a scientific fact or a fun tidbit about how something came to be; reading can increase your knowledge and intelligence. Reading anything that exposes your mind to new information increases your mental ability. Your brain is making connections from chapter-to-chapter and character-to-character. In making these connections, your brain is also forming new connections and pathways which can allow for faster thinking and stronger cognitive ability.

Increase Capacity for Empathy
Reading can also increase emotional intelligence. Reading allows a person to understand empathy and demonstrates how to detect, interpret, and respond to others’ feelings which is vital in dealing with social relationships. In a study, researchers from the New School in New York found that “literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling…[it can also] support and teach us values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves.” Children who regularly read fiction are able to imagine themselves in the main character’s shoes.  Reading increases their empathetic understanding of other’s feelings and perspective.

Increase Focus
In today’s world of social media and constant connectivity, it is hard to unplug and give our full attention to one thing. Reading is a great way to disconnect and dive into a world full of fact or fiction.  Studies indicate that individuals who take time to read significantly improve their attention span and ability to focus.

Strengthen Parent-Child Bond and Build Resilience
There are so many great reasons to read. Taking the time to read with your child not only helps them in all the ways mentioned above, more importantly, it also helps strengthen the bond between you and your child.  When you and your child escape into a page-turning book together, you are sharing a special experience that enhances your sense of belonging to one another. It can be a natural, non-threatening way to meet your child’s needs for physical affection.  Reading also gives you an opportunity to help your child process complicated feelings around loss, trauma, and adversity.  Every good work of fiction involves the main character encountering and overcoming difficulties.  Regular reading can strengthen your child’s resolve and resiliency.

At Right Turn® we are here to help and support families who have adopted a child or entered into a guardianship in Nebraska. The essence of our organization exists in our commitment to children and families. We strive to provide the support and connections necessary for adoptive and guardianship parents.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.