The Key to Opening Many Doors
“The whole world opened up to me when I learned to read” – Mary McCleod Bethune.
World Book Day, April 23rd is around the corner, it is the perfect opportunity to celebrate books, reading, and the power it holds to shape and change our lives. For centuries, books have been the window to a world of knowledge, imagination, and adventure. Through stories, we connect with others, we share experiences and imagine the impossible, the unfathomable, and the transcendent.
At a young age, most of us are taught the importance of reading and that it is an important part of learning, but there are some benefits of reading that you might not know about.
In children, reading has been shown to develop stronger language skills and improve their vocabulary. In addition, research shows that it helps children become more creative and imaginative; and those who read frequently are more academically successful in life. Reading helps children with learning disabilities, such as ADHD, and helps lower stress levels by allowing children to detach from whatever they are experiencing. However, it is not just children who can benefit from reading, but adults can experience them too.
There are several benefits to your physical and mental well-being when you pick up a book and read, these benefits go far beyond what you read in the book itself.
Reading relieves stress. According to a study from the University of Sussex in England (Lewis, 2009), just six minutes a day can reduce your stress levels by 60 percent. It showed that those who read for just six minutes before tackling a stressful task were able to lower their stress levels significantly more than those who listened to music or went for a walk, among other things.
Reading improves memory and cognitive function. An article published by Harvard Health Publishing at Harvard Medical School (2021) states that reading is an effective way to keep your mind alert and can help in the prevention of age-related diseases, like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The article explains that reading strengthens the parts of the brain that have to do with language skills, decision-making and logical thinking – which can help keep those areas of your brain healthy as you age. It helps your brain process information quickly and effectively and in addition, it is one of the best ways to gain a broader perspective on the world, by interacting with characters who may have a very different worldview than you do.
One thing is certain: books are not just stories on a page, they are keys to opening any door you see and hold much power within. They are beacons of hope, companions, educators, friends, and so much more. Books have the power to change lives, and reading is the key to unlocking that power. This month on World Book Day, I encourage you to pick up a book, gift a book to someone, or donate to impactful causes like the World Literacy Foundation, because what better way to share the power of books and reading than with others?
- Lewis,D. (2009). University of Sussex, Mindlab International.
- Lewis, D. (2009), Galaxy Stress Research. Mindlab International, Sussex University, UK.
- Harvard Health Publishing (2021).Mind & Mood. Protecting against cognitive decline.
Author: Courtneigh Bengtson Govender
Location: Durban, South Africa
Insta Handle: @courgovender
Courtneigh is a 28-year-old literacy advocate and student from South Africa. She believes that every child deserves quality education, healthcare, and a fair chance to reach their full potential.
“Acknowledging the existing inequalities, to be empathetic, and to give back to society to the best of my ability is a mission I am driven by.”
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