A Gentle Reminder to Read…

By Bethany Grayland-Leech

 With the numerous new and exciting technological advances, it can be easy to forget about one of the oldest ways to enjoy your free time. As fun as it is to get lost in the virtual world, I fully believe that the written word has yet to lose its simple charm and can still provide us with ample enjoyment. So here is a little list to gently remind us to put down the remote or controller occasionally and make a cuppa, sit in a comfy chair, and pick up a book:

  1. Gives knowledge

 ‘Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.’ – Tomie dePaola

Perhaps one of the most obvious reasons to read. Reading imparts knowledge, and everyone knows that knowledge is power. It doesn’t matter what genre you enjoy or whether it is fiction or non-fiction, reading can provide you with a method of learning that is relatively cheap and hugely accessible.

  1. Improves your brain

 ‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.’  Richard Steele

 Researchers from Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago studied the effects that lifelong reading can have on our brains. It was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Eligible participants were those aged over 55 years and they were tested every year from 1997 onwards. They also agreed to have a brain autopsy when they died.

The conclusion of the study was that frequent cognitive activity may slow the rate of cognitive decline and it is consistent with prior research findings.

If you are interested in finding out more details about the study, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/news/neurology/could-lifelong-reading-protect-against-dementia/

  1. Reduces stress

 ‘Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.’ – Kofi Annan

 We don’t need studies to know that this is true. I am not denying that playing a video game is hugely cathartic, but they can often be very expensive. A book tends to be a lot cheaper and there are hundreds and thousands to choose from. Reading is one of the easiest ways to become transported to another world and it is very easy to understand the thoughts and feelings of a protagonist. You may even find that reading can provide you with perspective and therefore, give you a solution to any problems that have caused you to be so stressed.

  1. Learn about another world

 ‘Books are a uniquely portable magic.’ – Stephen King

 Throughout my life, I have read many books. When I was younger, I was obsessed with the Little House on the Prairie series, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I remember being so amazed at their way of life as it was so different to my own. I had travelled back in time and I could see it all so vividly. I learnt about the different views they held, the difficulties they faced, and as I got old enough to understand, questioned the family’s and society’s attitude toward the Native Americans. Although I don’t agree with the treatment of the Native Americans, I learnt about the values of another era.

Another favourite book of mine would be Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist. An entirely different book and a work of fantasy fiction. This was the first book to ever genuinely scare me and as someone who struggles with imagination, it was an absolute delight to be scared by the written word and to experience such an unnerving world.

  1. Discover and create yourself

‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ – Frederick Douglass

This is one of the most important reasons to read and it ties in with the first reason I have mentioned, obtaining knowledge. Reading can open so many worlds to you, each with different morals and values and ideas. By reading a variety of texts, you can educate yourself and learn about different cultures and worlds and this is key to discovering certain aspects of yourself and gaining a better understanding of what makes you, you. Literature provides you with an assortment of lessons that you can pick and choose from and it will help shape who you are and who you become. You are never too old to learn and evolve.