Tag Archives: power of reading

Why reading is good for the brain


I (Clare) found this terrific article on reading which build on World Book Day. Below is the Image Red Maple_How-To-Outrun-A-Crocodilelink and the article. So after reading the blog, relax with a tea and read a good book!


If you love reading, you won’t need us to tell you how beneficial curling up Unknownwith a book can be, but studies have shown that picking up a novel has health effects that extend beyond the immediate de-stressing and pleasure it brings.

To celebrate World Book Day (March 3), we want to talk about the less obvious health benefits books can bring. Reading is time well-spent!

Reading fires up your brain

41e13pkIBfL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Researchers at Liverpool University revealed that reading Wordsworth, Shakespeare and other classics “lights up” the brain under scanners. However, when participants were given easier, modern translations of the books, the brain boosting effects were less, suggesting that reading trickier texts is better for you. Areas of the brain fired up included not only the left part of the brain concerned with language, but also the right hemisphere that relates to autobiographical memory and emotion.

Effects are enduring. A study at Emory University in the US found that reading a book causes heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist even after you’ve stopped reading.

Reading can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s

Reading can lower the levels of a brain protein involved in Alzheimer’s, researchers have Image Red Maple Award_The-Boundlessclaimed. US scientists looked at beta amyloid protein levels in 65 healthy older people and compared the results with Alzheimer’s patients. They found lower levels of amyloid in the brains of people who had read, written, played games, or taken part in other cognitively stimulating activities throughout their lives.

Lead researcher Susan Landau, of the University of California, Berkeley, said: “We report a direct association, suggesting that lifestyle factors found in individuals with high cognitive engagement may prevent or slow deposition of beta amyloid, perhaps influencing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”

In fact, reading slows mental decline in general

People who read books are more likely to have healthy brains in old age, according to research published in the journal, Neurology. The study looked at 294 elderly participants and found that those who had taken part in mentally stimulating activities – such as reading – had lower rates of mental decline as they got older. Conversely, those who rarely read or performed other stimulating mental activity mentally declined 48 percent faster than average.

“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” said study author Robert. S. Wilson of the Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.

Reading can improve your memory

Scientists at Liverpool University found that reading poetry stimulates activity in the brain area associated with autobiographical memory. There’s a lot to remember when you read – plot, sub-plots, characters, emotions, your own evaluation of what’s going on – and all of this effectively gives your brain a “work-out”.

Reading improves your concentration

For many of us, life is frenetic and we spend our days juggling a million jobs. If you regularly find yourself chatting online at the same time as speaking on the phone, trying to get work done and dealing with family demands then you’re not alone. However, this type of frantic multitasking has been shown to lower productivity, meaning you get less done in the long-run. The discipline of focusing for prolonged periods on reading a book is good for your powers of concentration and can have a far-reaching effect on your life.

Reading lowers stress

If you’re stressed, reading is one of the most effective, enjoyable ways of making yourself feel better. Part of this is common sense; getting lost in a book will take you away from your worries for a while, giving you new perspective when you return. However, research has found that reading lowers stress faster than other activities such as walking or listening to music. Research from the University of Sussex found that subjects only needed to read for six minutes to slow down their heart rate and ease tension in the muscles.

Reading may help with depression

Several studies have suggested that reading can help with mood disorders such as depression. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE showed that reading self-help books, alongside therapeutic support sessions, lowered depression more effectively than traditional treatments alone. Even in severe cases, reading the right kind of book can improve your mental health. According to a study at the University of Manchester, people with severe depression can also benefit from “low-intensity interventions,” such as self-help books.

Reading can help you sleep

Most sleep expert suggest that insomniacs should create a calming bedtime routine, away from phone and computer screens which can stimulate brain activity with their lights (not to mention annoying posts from distant relatives). Reading a non-stressful book under a gentle light can be part of this routine, but choose your book wisely; anything too exciting may have the reverse effect.

Reading give you better analytical skills

Reading is a complex process, involving several parts of the brain as you piece together and visually recreate what’s happening. This brain activity will stand you in good stead for becoming more widely analytical. Research at the University of Berkeley revealed that readers are able to spot patterns more quickly, a key tenet of good analytical thinking.

Reading makes you more empathic

Reading fiction makes you a nicer person. There, we’ve said it, and research will back us up. A team at the University of Toronto found that the more fiction a participant had read, the higher they scored on measures of social awareness and tests of empathy, such as being able to take another person’s perspective or being able to accurately read emotions from looking at someone’s eyes. On the other hand, people who regularly read non-fiction were found to display the opposite characteristics, making them less empathic.

Reading literally makes you cleverer

Canada’s Keith E. Stanovich, Emeritus Professor at the University of Toronto, is a world leader in the psychology of reading. Stanovich has carried out a vast amount of research into the topic and the conclusion of one meta-analysis reads: “If ‘smarter’ means having a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills encompassed within the concept of intelligence, as it does in most laymen’s definitions of intelligence, then reading may well make people smarter. Certainly our data demonstrate time and again that print exposure is associated with vocabulary, general knowledge, and verbal skills even after controlling for abstract reasoning abilities.”

Power of Reading

I (Clare) am getting ready to start teaching my literacy methods courses. I came across these great quotes on the power of reading. I will use them in my first class as a way to “kick start” the discussion of the importance of reading. I especially like Frank Serafini’s quote –  “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” As a child I did not learn to ready easily or at an early age. I can totally relate to Serafini’s position. Once I found books on topics I like, I have not stopped reading. If you want the link to these quotes here it is: http://bilingualmonkeys.com/43-great-quotes-on-the-power-and-importance-of-reading/

children reading1. A book is a gift you can open again and again. —Garrison Keillor
2. Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. —Kofi Annan
3. Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. —Frederick Douglass
4. Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his needs, is good for him. —Maya Angelou
5. There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book. —Frank Serafini
6. Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. —Emilie Buchwald
7. One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and to their society—is to read to children. —Carl Sagan
8. You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me. —Strickland Gillian
9. Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or Library book shelvesduty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift. —Kate DiCamillo
10. Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. —Vera Nazarian
11. Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx
12. There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. —May Ellen Chase
13. To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. —Victor Hugo
14. It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations—something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own. —Katherine Patterson
15. When you learn to read you will be born again…and you will never be quite so alone again. —Rumer Godden
16. We read to know we are not alone. —C.S. Lewis
17. So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. —William James
18. There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. —Jacqueline Kennedy
19. The greatest gift is a passion for reading. —Elizabeth Hardwick
20. There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. —Marcel Proust
9d21d-thekeepingquilt21. Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality. —L.R. Knost
22. Read, read, read. —William Faulkner
23. Read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read until words become your friends. Then when you need to find one, they will jump into your mind, waving their hands for you to pick them. And you can select whichever you like, just like a captain choosing a stickball team. —Karen Witemeyer
24. Books are a uniquely portable magic. —Stephen King
25. Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. —E.P. Whipple
26. A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say, “How to Build a Boat.” —Stephen Wright
27. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Richard Steele
28. There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back. —Jim Fiebig
29. A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic. —Carl Sagan
30. A house without books is like a room without windows. —Heinrich Mannwonder
31. A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever. —Louis L’Amour
32. Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. —Tomie dePaola
33. It is books that are the key to the wide world; if you can’t do anything else, read all that you can. —Jane Hamilton
34. I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. —Anna Quindlen
35. A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read. —Mark Twain
36. Comics are a gateway drug to literacy. —Art Spiegelman
37. He that loves reading has everything within his reach. —William Godwin
38. Let us read and let us dance—two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. —Voltaire
39. Wear the old coat and buy the new book. —Austin Phelps
40. I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp. —JK Rowling
41. Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier. —Kathleen Norris
42. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. —S.I. Hayakawa
43. I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. —Jorge Luis Borges