I’ve always enjoyed reading. During my teen years, I preferred reading over other pursuits that were common among my peers. As an adult, reading remains one of my favorite activities.
What has changed is that these days I rarely feel like I have time to read. As a wife and mom of young children, my “free time” is almost nonexistent! I believe that reading is important, though, so I’ve been carving out time for it. Here are eight reasons why it’s important to read.
Why make time for reading
- It broadens our understanding. When we read from a variety of genres, we’re exposed to new ideas that challenge our ways of thinking and help us better understand the world around us. This helps each of us—regardless of our specific roles—to have more information to use when making decisions and to engage in meaningful interactions with others.
- It helps us learn new things. In addition to broadening our understanding on the large scale described above, reading books helps us learn new skills. Cookbooks teach us new recipes and cooking techniques, marriage books teach us communication skills, Bible commentaries teach us about the Bible and Christian living, etc.
- It allows us to benefit from the experiences of others. People often say that experience is the best teacher. Personally, I’ve found this to be true! Books give us the opportunity to experience a great number of things vicariously. We can learn and grow from these vicarious experiences in the same way we can from our own.
- It expands our vocabularies. In a world where people often communicate with shortcuts like “LOL” and “SMH,” it’s nice to learn new words that will help us to communicate effectively. Reading provides numerous opportunities to come across new words and see them used in a variety of contexts.
- It makes us more socially adept. Not only are our social skills honed because reading broadens our understanding and increases our vocabularies, but because reading gives us a greater sense of empathy and helps us understand our peers (source). It’s easy to see how reading nonfiction would have this effect, but researchers have found that reading fiction has the same impact.
- It stimulates our minds. Being cognitively active throughout life is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, researchers found in one study that frequent engagement in intellectually stimulating activities, including reading, cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 47% (source).
- It improves our focus. In our fast-paced world, we’re used to things happening quickly (e.g., heating food in a microwave, receiving emails just moments after they were sent) and many of us walk around with our focuses fragmented (e.g., we’re checking text messages as we fold laundry while dinner simmers on the stove). Reading takes time and requires that we concentrate. We need activities like this that help us slow down and fix our attention on one thing for an extended period of time.
- It allows us to get away for a bit. All of these benefits are great. However, if most of us are honest, we’re not reading in order to obtain these benefits—we’re reading for leisure. We want to be entertained or to escape for a few minutes. This may seem shallow compared to the other benefits, but I don’t think it is. We need to relax and get away for a bit in order to manage stress and refresh ourselves. By reading, we relax and benefit from all of these other effects!
It’s truly amazing that opening a book can do all of these things! As a bonus, reading is free! Head to your local library and you can access thousands of books at no cost. (I know it’s not technically free—our tax money pays for libraries—but you have to pay taxes whether you use the library or not, so you might as well use it!) You can also download free eBooks from a variety of sites and purchase books for very little at used bookstores and library book sales.
Do you enjoy reading? How does it benefit you?
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