Pick up a book and join the State Library for Australian Reading Hour on 12 November 2020.
It is never too early or too late to get stuck into reading!
Early exposure to books can lead to all sorts of benefits for children - from greater confidence, to a broader vocabulary, to a higher IQ. These benefits are even greater when friends and family members are involved. For example, reading a child a bedtime story six-nights a week can put them almost a full year ahead when they enter school.
A relationship with books is useful for personal growth, not just mental strength. Reading the stories of others, fictional or not, has been shown to increase empathy, and it gives people a broader understanding of the world, their place in it, and their impact on it. It also increases personal knowledge - by examining the thoughts and feelings of others, readers can develop a deeper understanding of their own experience.
But, as the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second-best time is right now. So, even if you don’t have a well-established passion for reading, it’s not too late for you to find one, and you’ll certainly benefit from it if you do.
Reading is a fantastic stress reducer. It is faster acting than listening to music, drinking a cup of tea, or going for a walk, and it can reduce by up to 68%. Just 30 minutes of reading reduces heart rate, blood pressure and mental distress.
It does not really matter what you’re reading, the act of reading is all it takes. Focusing on a longer piece of text slows down your brain and stops the rapid over-stimulation that we can get when staring at a screen all day. With consistent reading, you’ll come to see an increase in attention span and focus.
A great time to read is right before bed. Reading in the minutes that lead up to sleep (rather than being on your phone or watching TV) prepares your brain for a gentle, normal night of sleep. Consistently better sleep will have you more alert, more attentive and more able to absorb knowledge throughout the day.
Reading is exercise for your brain, it strengthens your mental muscles and helps to keep your mind fit. By keeping your brain healthy and strong as you age, you can help mitigate mental decline and keep yourself sharper, for longer. By exercising your brain with books, you can reduce the likelihood and impact of Alzheimer’s, and increase your lifespan.
Ultimately, reading at any age has only positive outcomes. You can achieve greater mental strength, a broader vocabulary, and a better understanding of not only yourself, but of the world around you. The material you read matters far less than the act of reading itself - just find something you’re interested in and dive in!
To find out more about Australia Reads 2020 and Australian Reading Hour visit australiareads.org.au