Why is it important that we read as adults?
At Kumon, our focus is on developing reading proficiency and enjoyment from a young age. We believe this broadens children's horizons and exposes them to a wider range of human emotions and experiences. Reading can increase concentration spans and comprehension, which aids all other forms of learning.
But when was the last time you dedicated time to reading a book for enjoyment alone?
In a world of TV screens, laptops, and of course, our smartphones, it's easy to become distracted. Most of us can recognise that we've actually spent our free time glancing from one to another and taking in very small snippets of information at a time rather than being able to give our full attention to just one task. It's easy to forget how enjoyable it is to curl up and really submerge oneself in a good book.
There are a great number of benefits to taking the time out to get lost in a good story:
Reading can relieve stress
Research conducted on a group of volunteers in 2009 at Mindlab International, at the University of Sussex and many studies since then have shown, that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress. Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.
During testing, reading reduced stress levels by 68%, beating listening to music, having a cup of tea or coffee and taking a walk. The subjects tested had their stress levels and heart rates increased through a variety of tests and exercises before being asked to perform a number of traditional relaxation methods. Subjects only had to read for six minutes for their heart rate and muscles to relax.
Reading can help you sleep
Getting a good night's sleep is extremely important to ensure you are ready to tackle a new day. But sometimes there are a number of factors or worries which make nodding off a little difficult. Removing technology or resisting the urge to use it at bedtime can help. Combined with reading for ten minutes or so can help you switch off from your daily stresses and relax enough to sleep better.
Reading can make you more empathetic
Researchers in the Netherlands published a study in the journal PLOS ONE in which they detailed two experiments, demonstrating that people who are "emotionally transported" by a work of fiction experience a boost in empathy.
In reading fiction, our understanding of texts and people comes from inferring their emotions and reactions to the events. We sympathise with these emotions and to some extent, share them.
And there are many other reasons from improving your memory to keeping your brain healthy in later life. But what better reason is there than just escaping to another world and enjoying living someone else's story for a while?