Reading used to be commonplace, but many children and some adults now question why reading is important.
The advent of electronic technology and limited time availability is combining with short attention spans to decrease the number of people settling down with a good book. Reading books comes with a wealth of benefits. From developing verbal abilities and improving focus to boosting creative spirit and reducing stress, reading is useful and vital for human development.
Psychologists from Washington University have conducted research using brain scan technology. Their studies show that every time you read something you build a mental picture in your head of what you have read. The created image weaves into your own experiences in life and creates a new neural pathway; effectively increasing your brainpower. Increased brainpower strengthens our mental capacities, making us smarter and more capable of remembering things.
The ability to lose oneself in a fantasy world is a uniquely human trait. You will probably be able to remember reading a good book and looking at the world in a different way. This is only possible because you have immersed yourself in a fantasy world and have come to understand someone else’s perspective. This encourages an increase in empathy in any reader as you relate to the characters in the story.
Research also shows a decrease in empathy in the younger generation. It has now been suggested that these two fields are linked. The younger generation of today spends time on social media sites, game playing or researching the internet – all of which provides instant gratification but no room for empathy. Technology itself is revealing that sometimes you need to switch off and immerse yourself in a good book. Reading books relaxes the brain and the mind; it is soothing, useful, and functional.
The ability to read is one of the foundations of a good education. Without it, you cannot understand the economy or even access the information and social connections on the internet. Part of this reading should be the understanding of the importance of books and the effects they have on personal and emotional development. A book can open your mind to a whole world of new possibilities. It also reinforces our sense of individuality and ability to achieve anything.
Reading in decline
Should the number of people reading continue to decline, it is likely to change human nature on a fundamental level. The ability to connect and relate to others is essential to being who we are. A lack of reading would reduce your ability to produce creative thoughts and to devise new ways of approaching problems. Why is reading declining as an activity? Because advanced technology has created video games, gadgets and other smart devices that apparently are more interesting than books.
Ironically, technology still has the answer
Technology is to blame for this decline in reading but it can also offer the answer. Electronic readers can carry thousands of titles, which we can read on tablets, smart phones and laptops. It is truly amazing to be able to access almost any book almost anywhere in the world. Reading needs to be taught to everyone so that they can access the written word in any format.
Reading books and escaping into alternative worlds to heighten emotional and personal development should be an essential part of the younger generation’s education. The medium used to promote this is not relevant. There will always be those who prefer to read from a printed book and others who wish to use an electronic reader.
The key to ensuring that this valuable skill is not lost is to use the power of the Internet to educate young people about the value of reading books. We can use technology to encourage people to renew their friendship with the written word.
by Christopher Austin and LoveReading.co.uk!