Why You Need to Read
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In this first post, I wanted to chat about reading. It is Australian Reading Hour today and I wanted to take some time to talk about why it is so important to read. The Australia Council for the Arts ran a survey in 2016 and found that 95% of Australians enjoy reading books for pleasure or interest; 68% would like to read more, with relaxation and stress release the most common reason for reading; and almost three-quarters believe books make a contribution to their life that goes beyond their cost. Over 80% of Australians with children encourage them to read.
Along with this, 71% of us think it is important for Australian children to read books set in Australia and written by Australian authors (thank you for that!); and 60% believe it is important that books written by Australian authors be published in Australia. While there is a common belief that books are too expensive, more than half of us think that Australian literary fiction is important. Almost two-thirds of Australians believe books by Indigenous Australian writers are important for Australian culture.
Why is it important to read?
The Australian Reading Hour team say that reading is so very important because:
- Increasing literacy and numeracy skills has a positive and significant effect on jobs.
- Reading reduces stress by 68%, relieving stress more quickly than listening to music, going for a walk or having a cup of tea ( I personally like to read while having a cup of tea, listen to music while walking and if possible do all of these at once).
- Children who know adults who read for pleasure take it for granted that reading is valuable – and I would add, children who know adults who read to them and with them, value this even more, as well as growing a deep bond. Despite being an independent reader for a while now , my 10 year old just asked me this morning to read “A Series of Unfortunate Events” that I got for his birthday with him, “Like we did for The Hobbit Mum”. And of course I said a resounding, “Yes!”
- The more leisure books people read, the more literate they become and the more prosperous and equitable the society they inhabit – or in other words, the more you read for pleasure, the more you understand the world and the more we create a community in which people can thrive.
- Reading a gripping novel causes positive biological changes in the brain that can last for days – or when you read something really tense or scary, it gets hold of you for ages and makes you want to get back to it quicksmart!
- When tested for empathy, readers of narrative fiction achieved significantly higher than other groups – reading about people, all sorts of people, whether real or created, in a world which can be either real or created, opens your mind and your heart to the possibilities of others. It brings you into places you might never otherwise experience and into the minds of others.
- Reading is closely linked to increasing our understanding of our own identities – through getting to know others, you get to know yourself.
- It was found by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research that reading to children six to seven days a week puts them almost a year ahead of those who are not being read to – reading makes you smart.
So many reasons to read! If you are stuck for a book, here is a list of choices. But really, read anything. Just get offline, get off social media, find a nice corner, a cup of tea and a snack, and read. You just never know where it will lead you.
If you are interested in sustainability, you might like to read my book, Healthy Planet, Healthy People, Healthy Home – head here for more.
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