“Reading opens a window to the world; giving us a vision of things we never dreamed possible.”
Reading for fun has become like a long-lost luxury, especially in this busy age of 24/7. Relaxation and ‘luxury’ activities are often met with the guilt that we should be doing something worthwhile and productive…not indulging and pampering ourselves.
What would the world be like if we lost our interest in reading for fun and pleasure? Research shows that we may be heading that way. An Ipsos Reid survey, which was commissioned by CanWest News Service and Global Television, found that nearly a third of adults (31 per cent) across the country didn’t read a single book for pleasure in the past year. The discouraging figure puts Canadians four points behind the U.S., where an identical poll showed 27 per cent of Americans hadn’t picked up a book in the previous 12 months. The good news is that the 69 per cent of Canadians who were reading did so voraciously, with the average person in that group having dug into 20 books over the course of the year.
The National Endowment for the Arts, has found that this decline is happening across all age groups, all genders and races, regardless of income, education, or region. Perhaps most disturbing, the steepest decline has come among young adults, ages 18 to 24, over the past two decades.
A lot has been written about the benefits of reading in children, but there are benefits for adults as well. Reading can transport us to another time or place. It stimulates the right side of our brain and can engage our imagination and strengthen our creativity. It can expand our understanding of other cultures, help us to find new ways to express our ideas, and expand our vocabulary.
Reading And You Scheme
This time-out is so effective that the National Health System in the United Kingdom has introduced a ‘Reading and You Scheme’. The scheme encourages mental health patients to read more as part of their therapy for reducing stress and overcoming anxiety, depression and social isolation.
“Bibliotherapy is the use of reading creatively; books, stories and poems to make people feel better, in themselves, about themselves and about others. It’s about reading and a passion for reading. Also, it’s about sharing that passion, enthusiasm and delight with another individual or group of people. It can show us our own life mirrored in that of another person. If we are feeling miserable or alone sharing our experience in this way can help us to feel less isolated. Our empathy with others is extended as is our imagination and understanding.”
Reading can stimulate our emotions and give us an appropriate way to vent out our frustrations, sadness and joy. I love getting so involved in a book that I find myself reading through my tears. This is when I usually get the response from my boys that “It’s just a book!”.
Finally, research has found that reading for pleasure has been found to correlate to higher community participation and a greater insight into human nature and decision-making.
Beverly’s Hot Tips For Celebrating Reading Is Fun Week:
- Find a good book. Ask your friends which books they found interesting. Friends may have similar tastes and their recommendations may help to ensure that you find a book that will engage you
- Use technology. Book readers such as the Kindle can help you to carry a lot of books in a very convenient package especially when you are travelling or on vacation. However, there is still nothing like the feeling of physically turning the page when you are completely engrossed by what is going to happen next.
- Turn off the TV and start reading. According to Digital Home Canada and their in-depth analysis of the CRTC Broadcasting Policy Monitoring Report (BPMR) for 2008, Canadian adults (18 and over) watch more TV than children, an average of 28.8 hours a week in a full year. This works out at almost 1,500 hours of television viewing each year, including an estimated 25,000 commercials.
- Find the time. It doesn’t have to be a ‘free’ hour. Reading for fun can last for 20 or 30 minutes. Some read before bed as a way of winding down. Others I know, take the book to the bathroom while soaking in the tub. I have a very hard time with limiting my time when I get a really good book. I have been known to read an entire day (or night) away, just because I couldn’t put the book down. In this case, I only start a good book when I am truly able to ignore the phones and my work, like while I am on vacation. The problem with this strategy is that I can go months without reading, but when I do it is thoroughly rewarding.
Reading For Fun Week
A gentle reminder that reading is not a chore or homework assignment. It is a positive way of dealing with the stressors in our world, slowing ourselves down and adding more fun into our lives. Be a reader.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!
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