Reading books is important for adults and children. It is different to watching movies or reading news articles. Reading shapes us differently. We learn wisdom, morals, courage and empathy more effectively from stories than non fiction. Stories help us recognise injustice as we ‘walk in other people’s shoes’.
Studies show that in general, people are reading less, and comprehending less what they do read. It is no surprise that people are spending more time on electronic media, and reading stories less, saying they don’t have time. Interestingly, when people read more, their emotional intelligence goes up. When people use electronics more, their emotional intelligence goes down. That’s not to say we don’t use electronics, but we need to keep reading books as well.
While some activities engage only one side of the brain, reading engages both sides and helps us make connections that would otherwise not happen. Stories teach us by example how to be brave; stories embolden, strengthen and establish how we can become our very best.
Great stories have a journey where we don’t know how it will end. They are full of hope and courage. Storytelling becomes central to conquering fear. Stories create new ways of seeing, which lead to new ways of feeling and thinking. Great books expand our vision. Biographies tell the stories of the lives of fascinating people and expand the imagination’s scope for what is possible. We learn how other people grappled with similar problems.
- Read. Mortimer Adler famously said, in the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.
- Read well. Slow reading is very different from scanning texts or email.
- Re-read. CS Lewis said, no book is worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of 50 or beyond.
So my encouragement and challenge to students, parents and staff is: read a good book this school holidays. Who knows how your life will be richer for it.
(Reference: Why we should all be reading by Cherie Harder, Trinity Forum, and Ps Ron Wooley, ACS)