It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me, or any students I taught, that my favorite thing to do is READ. I love to get lost in a good book and have spent many pleasurable hours snuggled up on the couch with a roaring fire, or by a pool or ocean, reading my Kindle. Also, I enjoyed reading to my daughters when they were young, and as a result they have become avid readers too.
That’s all well and good, but did you know that reading is one of the best things you can do for your brain?! Yes, it’s true, and when I started to research this topic I found out lots of things even I didn’t know about the benefits your brain receives from reading.
1. Reading requires several different regions of the brain to work together. Interestingly, we don’t use the same neural circuits to read as we grow from infants to adults so our brains are constantly changing throughout our lives. Reading improves the connectivity between the various brain circuits that are essential to understanding the written words. Best yet, reading a novel can keep that enhanced connectivity working for days, and possibly even longer, after we have finished the book.
2. Studies show that regular reading boosts brain power and memory function making you smarter.
3. Reading helps fight Alzheimer’s disease. A study by the National Academy of Sciences determined that those who read or participate in activities such as puzzles or chess may be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Reading involves 17 regions of the brain, but not all at the same time, according to scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine. As the brain ages some of those regions grow less active which suggests that activity in the brain isn’t constant. However, reading keeps those regions involved which helps to enhance brain activity, especially when you read as a child.
5.Other non-brain related advantages of reading- Reading helps you sleep. Reading at bedtime creates a ritual that signals to your body that it is time to go to sleep. It also reduces stress. A book that engages your mind allows your tensions to drain away and your mind to relax. Along with gaining knowledge, reading increases vocabulary. Most importantly (to me), reading aloud to kids can encourage them to become frequent readers. A Scholastic reading report found that more than 40% of children who love to read were read to by their parents on a regular basis. Encouraging kids to read also leads to gaining a better education. You’re welcome, Jacqueline and Danielle! 🙂
I read some sad facts the other day related to reading that urged me to write this post and share this information with you, my wonderful readers.
- 33% of high school graduates and 42% of college graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
- 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
- 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
Now that I’ve shared the facts of how beneficial reading is to your brain, I would like to challenge you to read at least one book this summer. If you are parents to young children read at least one book to each of them, and if your children are of reading age encourage them to read at least one book this summer while they’re on vacation. Many libraries have summer reading programs for children and adults, and offer awesome incentives for reading and finishing books. When we lived in Hancock County, the library in Greenfield had a wonderful summer reading program which the girls and I participated in for many years. My girls are super competitive and enjoyed reaching their reading goals, and the prizes helped too!
I always told my students and my children to read something that interests you. If you’re into sports, dogs, cars, fashion, etc, there are many books out there that cover those topics. And those books you were made to read when in school; they can be enjoyable to reread once you no longer HAVE to read them. My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which I read in my ninth grade English class. I have read it many times since then and love it more with each reading. In my favorite popular fiction novel, Watchers by Dean Koontz, one of the main characters is a Golden Retriever named Einstein. I love all of Dean Koontz’ novels but that one was special to me because of that very unique main character, and because I love dogs.
So please, take my “Read a book this summer challenge”, let me know if you do, and what book you read. It will be great for your brain, and your children will benefit as well (if you have them). Currently I am reading a book entitled, Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple. It’s a super mystery novel, perfect for summer reading by the pool. I have over 100 books on my Kindle just waiting to be read though so I’ll quickly finish this one and be on to the next. I hope you take my challenge because reading will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!