At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why Read?

I know that I tend to have all the annoyance of a prophet calling in the wilderness, but I'm going John the Baptist one more time.

Various educational reformers and program-tinkerers come out with the latest fashions and plugs to try this or that idea. This is not to criticize said talking heads; some good ideas some from those voices. Nor is this the forum to criticize initiatives like No Child Left Behind or Common Core standards. Other people with more skin in the game than I do can skirmish on that terrain. Nor is this a technology rant. Others can scream out the pros and cons of iPads and other digital devices.

I feel the need to point out that all initiatives in educational reform will fail unless people take it upon themselves to be diligent readers. This is not spellbinding cutting edge stuff. This is common sense thinking.

Reading is the foundation of the house of the educated person. You may never be a voracious reader, but you can be a consistent reader, and you can learn to love reading.

There are many reasons why you should yearn to be a reader, but in case you were wondering if I had a list of benefits at the ready, here are twenty of them in no particular order:

1. It slows down your day and relaxes you. 
2. It helps you realize there are other worlds and perspectives than your own.
3. It expands your vocabulary and you can have more descriptive conversations.
4. Reading before going to sleep relaxes you and helps you sleep better. Sleeping better leads to higher quality waking hours.
5. It develops your imagination and provokes you to think about alternative paths and endings to your own stories of life.
6. Reading different varieties of books can offer solutions to everyday challenges.
7. It's productive. Read for thirty minutes a day five days a week and you've read 7800 minutes for a year. That translates to 130 hours of time. Imagine how many books you'd get read in 130 hours!
8. You understand other people's emotions as you encounter characters of other stories, and as a result you become more empathetic in a world that is increasingly less so.
9. Reading improves attention span, concentration, memory, and personal discipline.
10. You are able to assess situations and challenges in a hierarchical manner when you read more. This means you have an increasing ability to figure out what problems are important and what issues are less important, and you can prioritize things more naturally that way.
11. Especially with reading fiction, you realize the world consists of exceptions to the rule, and you can be inspired to solve problems rather than accept limitations.
12. It can challenge your own beliefs, help winnow away error, and strengthen the truth you hold.
13. It improves critical thinking, logic, and deduction skills.
14. It improves your ability to see patterns  and to anticipate possibilities.
15. It keeps your mind fresh and rejuvenated.
16. It strengthens your brain.
17. You become a more fluent communicator because you get a better handle not only on what to say but how it sounds.
18. Reading non-fiction can help you grasp practical aspects of life...what to look for in insurance policies, how to build a spice rack, and so forth.
19. It's inexpensive. Did you know you can borrow books for free from the public library?
20. And--from a personal vantage point--reading makes you a better writer and opens up a world where you can love to write. And that means you can create things that others can love to read. And that is a wonderful thought!

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