Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Summer Reading and Its Benefits

One of the joys of summer, if you have some time off or if work slows down a little bit, is the opportunity to spend some time reading for personal enjoyment rather than because it’s required or work-related.  (Although students do have some required reading, we hope that this is not the only reading they do during the summer.) This holds true as much for us adults as it does for our children, so I hope you have some time to read during the next few months.

Not that we need a reason to justify reading for pleasure, but should you require it, we have attached a post that a Bosque parent sent me, “7 Ways Reading Affects The Brain, From Increased Empathy To Feeling Metaphors.”  You might also share this with your children to encourage them to read something for fun this summer. 

In this essay, JR Thorpe lists these seven ways that reading positively affects the brain:
1. Reading reduces stress even more than music.
2. You don’t read more slowly on paper than you do on a screen—but you might remember more.
3. Reading might have evolved our brains.
4. We actually react physically to metaphors in books.
5. Reading fiction improves our ethical and empathetic skills.
6. Reading about intricate characters prompts the brain to ‘write’ them.
7. Poetry boosts our memory.
As you can see, reading can help us relax, bolster our memory, make us more empathetic, and exercise our brain.  So, it’s enjoyable and beneficial in many ways.  While there is still disagreement on how reading a physical book differs from a digital version in the impact on our brains and our personalities, there is consensus on the benefits of reading books in general.  Perhaps one of the greatest of those benefits in our fast-paced world, where we are constantly being bombarded with a variety of media and messages demanding our attention, is the way reading teaches us patience; we simply must wait for a plot to unfold or a character to develop.  Reading reminds us that not everything can be rushed or hurried along to meet our schedule. 

I hope you have a wonderful summer with plenty of down time, much outdoor activity, and numerous opportunities to read something memorable, whether it’s a literary novel, an absorbing mystery, or an interesting piece of nonfiction.  What is on your nightstand or shelf waiting to be read?  Please send along any recommendations you may have, and we can discuss them either this summer if we run into each other or in August when school recommences.

If you’re looking for recommendations, NPR typically has a summer reading list on its website, The New York Times usually does a summer reading issue, and there is a podcast I listen to called “Books on the Nightstand,” which offers recommendations. In the meantime, happy summer and happy reading!  See you in a few months!