The importance of reading

The importance of reading

As the head of an international school, one of my greatest pleasures is to listen to our children read or to read to them, be it an extract from a book or one of my favourite poems.

In my experience, students of all ages really enjoy this, and it is a great pleasure to be able to bring alive an assembly with a poem! It never fails to surprise me how all of the students listen so animatedly. This often leads to a discussion about favourite books and what we are reading.

Indeed, I had this discussion with my teaching staff, prior to the start of the new academic year, about how we remember with pleasure when we were read to in school or the delight of reading a favourite book.

It is so important that we all work together to ensure that a love of reading is encouraged in children of all ages. I know that this can be an uphill struggle in the all-embracing multimedia Netflix era. Nethertheless, we can succeed with ourselves as role models promoting good reading habits, and by taking an active role in establishing the importance of reading in schools and at home.

In fact, reading is vital to our children’s ability to learn, destress, gain valuable knowledge and discover the world.

  • Reading fact or fiction enables our brains to discover more about a subject and exercises parts of the brain that other activities do not. Researchers have shown that more information is absorbed when you read from a book, be it a textbook or fiction book, than when you research the subject using multimedia.
  • Daily reading enables our brains to function at a higher order and, therefore, develops and stimulates the brain cells.
  • Studies have shown that when we read regularly, our ability to focus for longer periods of time is improved.
  • Reading is a proven form of stress relief for all age groups. Being absorbed in the fantasy world of a book allows the brain to destress and our bodies to relax.
  • Reading also helps children of all ages to develop their concentration and focus.
  • One’s vocabulary and thesaurus are also improved when reading a wide range of books and articles.
  • Being read to is also a very valuable experience. It aids relaxation and focus for children of all ages, especially when it is a gripping story, fun picture book or repetitive poem that engages the listener.

As parents and educators, when did we last pick up a book to read for our own enjoyment? It is very important that we ourselves model the importance of reading. We need to remind ourselves how wonderful it is to turn off the social media or box set, pick up a book and relax in the simplicity of its enjoyment. Talk with your children about your book, and how much you can’t wait to read the next page or chapter.

Take your children to a book shop, sit down and absorb the new books, let them choose for themselves. Visit your local library and take out a book. Swap books amongst friends and peers. There are many ways to nurture a love of reading.

If you are not sure about which books to encourage your children to read, there are a number of published reading recommendations such as ‘The 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time’, published by Time magazine or ‘100 Best Classics’, which is published by Penguin.

Make the time to read to your children as part of a regular routine or for adolescents dedicate non internet time and encourage their reading.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates loot on Treasure Island” – Walt Disney

By Penelope Best, Head of School,
Eupheus International School, Loulé