Few people will dispute the immense benefits that the habit of reading brings in its wake. Even in a world inundated with technology, TV and video games, reading manages to hold its own. What does it matter
whether your fingers turn pages or glide across a Kindle, as long as you’re reading? And everyone who matters – experts, teachers, parents
and students – are united in the belief that the habit of reading is one that has to be inculcated early on in a child.
Listing all the benefits of reading will take the better part of this piece; still, for the sceptics, a short list should serve to convince you.
Scientific studies have established that those who read are more intelligent than those who don’t, because they have a better knowledge of the world around them. For instance, Anne E. Cunningham’s study, “What Reading does for the Mind,” found that reading enhances analytical thinking and the ability to spot patterns. Little surprise, given that reading is an active mental process where you are thinking, interpreting, predicting and reasoning, unlike sitting passively in front of a television.
Evidently, reading increases your exposure to a language, thus helping to build your vocabulary. You also learn to express yourself better, not just because you have a better command over the language, but also because you have been exposed to a range of ideas that automatically influence your thinking. And writers have admitted that to be a good writer, you need to first be a good reader!
But the one benefit that everyone seems to unanimously agree on is that reading makes you a confident person – one who is expressive and able to present himself well in society, thus enhancing self-esteem.
Here are some other benefits of reading:
- Improves memory, concentration and focus
- Hones your creativity
- Reduces stress and relaxes the mind
- Familiarises you with other cultures and untries and helps you appreciate their diversity and ethnicity, building empathy
- Improves your social skills by allowing you to talk knowledgeably about a variety of topics
The reading habit seems to take on even more importance when it comes to children. A study in a Rhode Island hospital compared two groups of eight month olds – one group was read to often as babies, the other was not. The babies who were read to, increased their ‘receptive’ vocabularies (number of words they understood) by 40% from babyhood onwards, while the babies who were not read to increased their vocabularies only by 16%. And you will all agree that language development in children is very important. Malini Rao who runs Chimply Fun, a preschool in Bangalore, has observed that children who are read to develop better language skills and are better communicators. On the other hand, children who have not been exposed to books from an early age don’t develop an adequate vocabulary and are often unable to express what they are feeling – this sometimes leads to frustration and anger, resulting in aggressive behaviour and tantrums.