“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance.
Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.”
American writer, poet and filmmaker Sherman Alexie managed to summarize the vital importance of books in two short sentences. The main takeaway is: we should not turn to books only when we have some idle time to fill or want to entertain ourselves. They encompass an infinite universe where each of us can continuously discover new things, learn ceaselessly and gain valuable experience. Moreover, in the era of technology, with an overwhelming amount of digital and non-digital information, good reading skills are real saviors.
Research and statistics reveal interesting, sometimes even surprising data on reading and the role it plays in a person’s life. Not to make the list endless, 20 of the most compelling facts can be singled out.
Reading Is Good For Your Health
Have you ever felt stress and negativism devour your positive energy and productiveness? Most probably, you have. Obviously, by reducing stress, we get tons of energy and land in a better mood, thus creating better chances for efficiency and success. Books step in as great companions to help us fight stress. Here is what statistics claims:
1. Reading has a beneficial impact on our physical and mental health: it reduces stress for 60%, slows heartbeat and relieves muscle tension.
2. Surprisingly, reading proved to be 600% more beneficial in fighting stress than playing a video game, and 300% more useful than going for a walk. Its impact even surpasses drinking a cup of tea (100%) or listening to music (68%).
Being a good reader is also one of the shortest ways to preserve your mental health.
3. The University of California has found that people having a ninth-grade (or higher) literacy level, have 4 to 5 times more chances not to suffer mental declines as they age.
Reading Benefits Not Only You But Also Others
Reading enhances empathy and willingness to help others. This can be easily tested when it comes to donating and volunteering. Being physically and mentally sound, you are more enthusiastic about contributing to the wellbeing of your community.
4. Among people who volunteer, 42% are readers, and 25% are non-readers.
5. Among people who donate money and goods, 82% are readers, and 66% non-readers.
Reading Starts (Ideally) At Young Age
We familiarize ourselves with books at early years, that’s why reading among youngsters is always in the center of specialists’ and researchers’ attention. Once you skip this time of learning to read, you dramatically reduce your chances to become a literate person.
6. As reported by UNESCO in 2006, there are 132 million young people worldwide that are unable to communicate in a written language. Most of them will never learn to read during the rest of their life.
Learning to read is a necessity, but the next step is building a habit of reading.
7. Children who read 3,000 words each day take top 2% positions in standardized tests. So, if you want your children to have a productive life and successful career, you need to introduce them to reading. And the earlier, the better, because…
8. …children without basic literacy skills (before they enter school) are 3–4 times more likely to drop out later.
Better Chances For Employment
Reading helps to become a better learner by cultivating essential skills for learning and later on – working. The U.S. Department of Education states that passionate reading promotes skills acquisition, superior grades, and a desirable lifestyle (taking into account income, employment, profession). Data is available to back up the above mentioned:
11. Students who do not read by 3rd grade are four times more likely not to graduate from high school. And if you do not graduate from high school, what are your chances to get employed and build sustainable career?
How Audiobooks Can Help To Be A Better Reader
Reading is no longer an old-fashioned and dull activity. Books and texts have penetrated into our smartphones or tablets and started “talking”. Today, audiobooks are inseparable part of the learning process for millions of people worldwide. And for a good reason: to be a good reader, we need to be a good listener, because listening helps to develop decoding skills which is a primary path to becoming a proficient reader.
12. During a research students in New York stated that listening to a fluent reader helped them improve their reading skills and become proficient readers.
13. Interestingly, reading to children in an interactive way raises their IQ by over 6 points. Parents and schools should take note of this fact and consider using audiobooks to make the learning process more effective.
14. Moreover, daily reading to children puts them almost 1 year ahead of those who are not being read to.
Audiobooks are proved to have a wide range of advantages. Most importantly, they
- Enable us to listen to expressive speech and get familiar with a variety of dialects and accents;
- Develop our active listening and critical thinking skills;
- Enrich our vocabulary;
- Help us imagine scenes and characters more clearly and vividly;
- Give us a reason to come together with a group and discuss topics related to what we have listened to;
- Listen to texts on the go: in a bus, train, while walking, etc.
Reading for Understanding: Close Reading
Surely, literacy is imperative to effective reading; however, it does not mandatorily lead to close reading – when you read for deep comprehension and challenge yourself with open questions (Who? What? Why? When? How? Where?). Avid and close readers are able to cultivate knowledge which is essential to improving one’s personal and professional lives. Consider some significant characteristics and aspects of close reading:
15. Close reading boosts critical thinking, provides a sharp eye for details and shapes a person of great insight. Consequently, it is a remarkable tool to catalyze effectiveness and innovation.
16. The role of close reading sharply increases in academic writing as far as it provides crucial skills for analyzing structure of the text, understand word choice, determine the impact of a language throughout the text, and write with sources (using evidence in your own pieces of writing).
17. If you want to start practicing close reading, start small; even the label text on the bottle of your favourite drink can be closely read – no joke.
Speed Reading: A US President Recommends
Speed reading is a reading method which enables to read at a faster speed without greatly affecting comprehension. Here the main thing to keep in mind is that you should see not say the words. With this technique, you keep on reading without digression and regression. By the way, myriad mobile applications have been created to help people become faster readers (a few examples are: QuickReader, Acceleread, Readme, Accelerator, Reading Trainer, etc.).
18. Rough estimate shows that an average person reads 250 words per minute. Depending on the aim of reading, the number of words read per minute may vary. Are you reading for skimming (getting main points quickly), reading for comprehension, reading for learning, or reading for memorization? It is essential to know your reading goals in order to slow down and speed up whenever the need arises.
If you have a long queue in your “read later” list, speed reading is one of the most efficient ways to thin out your list!
19. No wonder, U.S. President John F. Kennedy encouraged his staff to take lessons in speed reading.
Reading At Educational Institutions And Beyond
Many literate people have excuses for not reading at all after formal education is over.
20. Just imagine, 42% of graduates never read a book after graduating college.
If you don’t want to be in this group, you should start developing your reading skills and, if necessary, think of ways to make that process more engaging, interesting and challenging for you. Listening to audiobooks, honing your skills in close reading, practicing speed reading – you have a vast range of options to pick from.
True, reading requires time, but the benefits of it outweigh all the investments you make in this rewarding activity. Books fight stress, broaden your outlook, and create better chances for successful career. In addition, you develop critical and creative thinking and become more empathetic towards the communities around you. Explore the biographies of any prominent writer, businessman, actor, or leader; you will find out that all of them have been avid readers. And that’s natural: you cannot be everywhere and experience everything, that’s why you need books to arm you with vital knowledge to survive in this highly competitive world.
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