One of the most important gifts I have given my two daughters is a library card. My husband and I are avid readers and we want to instill the same love of reading in our kids. We take them to pick out a new book at the library every week. I remember my mother used to do the same thing, so we are keeping the tradition of reading alive and well in our family.
But reading is about more than a family tradition or simply enjoying the activity. Reading actually improves your health and the benefits are even greater if you start reading when you are young.
1. Reading is for your brain like working out is for your body.
You've probably heard the saying "use it or lose it." This is definitely applicable to your brain.
Your children are still young and cognitively sharp, but one way to ensure they stay mentally healthy throughout their adult lives is to develop a reading habit while they are young.
Reading exercises your brain just like running and lifting weights exercises your body. So if you read often, you will stay in better mental shape. The actual act of reading stimulates the distribution of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which allows the brain to function better even after your kids put their book down.
2. Reading improves your memory.
During our daily lives, we create memories. This is especially true for your little ones as they learn how the world works and navigate all kinds of situations for the first time.
Reading creates memories as well. When new memories are created, our brains create new synapses to communicate and store these memories. When new synapses are created, our brains tweak old synapses as well—keeping your memory sharp and the synapses healthy.
Stimulating synapse construction helps keep your child’s brain active and your memories clear.
3. Reading reduces stress.
It is important to teach kids coping strategies for those times when stress seems like too much to handle. Stressed kids and teens benefit from listening to calming music, drinking tea, going for a walk, or reading.
Of these activities, reading seems to be the most effective for stress reduction because it completely engages the mind with something other than what is causing the stress. In fact, the University of Sussex recently conducted a study where they found that, on average, reading for just ten minutes reduces stress by 70 percent.
4. Reading is therapeutic.
If your children are dealing with a difficult issue--such as the loss of a loved one or moving to a new town--reading a book about that subject can help them cope.
For kids, reading about other people (even if they are fictitious) who have dealt with issues like a beloved uncle dying from cancer or having trouble fitting in at a new school can help them realize that they are not alone in coping with these issues.
5. Reading increases your analytical capabilities.
Your children's analytical skills will develop over time. Being in the habit of reading will ensure those abilities reach full maturity.
Critical thinking is a key skill in the employment marketplace, and being able to analyze your own life provides valuable insights. Establishing a reading routine helps hone these cognitive skills over the years.
6. Reading helps you sleep.
Reading is a great way to unwind at the end of the day and encourage healthy sleeping patterns.
If your family is like mine, your kids' lives are fast-paced. I send my two girls to bed a half hour early each night so that they have time to read, relax, and unwind at the end of the day. Trying to sleep when your mind is racing a mile a minute is a futile exercise, but reading helps your kids slow down and relax so they can sleep better.
Start Improving Your Family’s Health Today
No matter where you look, there are experts coming at you from all directions. And everyone has a different idea on how to improve your family’s health.
Fortunately, reading is simple, enjoyable, and effective. It’s even cost-efficient! Priority One Clearing Services, a magazine subscription clearinghouse, recently shared a post on how to make your reading habit less expensive.
So really, you have no excuse—get your kids a book or magazine today!
Reading is a pleasure and a privilege. As an added bonus, it’s good for your health!