Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Importance of Reading

When is the last time someone read a story to you? Probably when you were a small child.  I have always loved a good story and ever since my children were small, their bedtime routine consisted of reading them a story (or two) every night before they went to bed.  When they were really little, it would be short stories with few words on the page.  I would read at least 3 of those.  Then, as they got older, I would read longer stories, only reading one or two chapters of the story each night until the story ended. 

 (The picture above is of my daughter and me reading a chapter book.)

One time I was reading my daughter a book and the story turned very sad.  I was too choked up to read.  My daughter grabbed the book and said “for goodness sakes, Mom!  I’ll read it!”  So she read it out loud until the sad part was over.  As my daughter grew older, she enjoyed reading out loud, so she took over the role of reading to her younger brother. (See picture below.)

As you can imagine, both of my children grew up to be readers, though my son doesn’t read as much as before since he’s in college now.  My daughter majored in creative writing and she is an amazing writer.  

There are many benefits to being an avid reader. It has been found to increase intelligence, reduce stress, improve writing and speaking skills, increase vocabulary and memory, and many others. Years ago, I worked in a psychiatric hospital in Texas and lead a group on stress management. Their favorite groups were the ones where I would encourage them to get in a comfortable place on the couch or floor and then I would read a children's story to them. They were able to forget their stress as they focused on the lively and uplifting story. This past year, I worked in the school system and counseled children from kindergarten through 12th grade.  Most of them were at or below the poverty level.  Barely any of them read much.  The ones who did were doing better in school. The ones who didn’t were basically failing. They would rather play video games, or watch TV than read. 

It’s tragic that most kids today do not enjoy reading. They rarely ever have a story read to them at home and the books that are assigned in school don’t interest them. If you have kids, take the time to find some interesting stories to read and start reading aloud to them.  There are lots of resources to help you find good read-aloud stories, but author Jim Trelease wrote several that I recommend.  Here is his website:

Why not choose one evening a week to turn off the television and have everyone read for an hour?  Reading opens the entire world to a child and can help them in every area of their lives. And who knows? You might just learn something, too!