Reading is a powerful way to grow, discover, create, and experience the fullness of our world. It is a gift. The art of reading has an impact on our physical and emotional state. We relax when we read, a study from the University of Sussex found that it only takes 6 minutes of reading to reduce stress and enhance our relaxation. It slows our heart rate, reduces muscle tension, and reduces our stress levels. Reading combats mental decline increases mental capacity and individuals who fail to read regularly experience a mental decline at a rate 48% faster than those who read regularly throughout their lives.
Impact on children
When we read to our children we are giving them the gift of school-readiness, brain development, and empathy. This simple act of reading and connecting with a child increases their vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, concentration, and self-discipline. Reading builds powerful new pathways withing the human brain, igniting the regions of our neural networks that can lead to enhanced brain function, engaging up to 17 regions of the brain. Even impacting our physical and emotional states, helping develop empathy and internalizing social values. A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that students who engaged in perspective taking activities with novels were associated with improved attitudes towards stigmatized groups such as immigrants and refugees.
Reading and the Brain
A research study from Emory University shows areas of the brain that are affected by reading books, the highlighted areas demonstrate significantly heightened brain activity. This biological response persists over time, even during times when the participants were not reading. Also, the area of the brain called the central sulcus, responsible for grounded cognition, which creates a representation of sensation. So if you are reading about a hero who has raced out of a jungle and come to a terrifying cliff above a raging river and jumps. You have just experienced the power of the sulcus, activated the same neurons that would be activated if you jumped into that river yourself.
This study hints that we can experience mentally and biologically feel the same as if we were the character themselves.
Emotions are also important because when we are in the engaged moment of reading, close to someone we love, our brain releases a beautiful flow of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins; a cocktail of happy chemicals that are the quartet responsible for happiness. Reading can cause them to intentionally flow through our bodies, and help our mind attach new learning though synapses. Helping to cement new habits, create new connections, and open pathways to learning.
Keep reading and enjoy every new adventure.
- (Source: Reading Is Fundamental, Access to Print Materials Improves Children’s Reading: A Meta-Analysis of 108 Most Relevant Studies Shows Positive Impacts, 2010)
- (Source: Reach Out and Read, Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence, Archives for Disease Control, 2008)
- (Source: National Endowment for the Arts, To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence, 2007)
- (Source: Gambrell, L.B. (1996). Creating classroom cultures that foster reading motivation. The Reading Teacher, 50.)
- (Source: Krashen, S. (1993). The Power of Reading. Englewood, Col.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.)
- (Source: Flowerday, T. & Schraw, G. (2000). Teacher Beliefs About Instructional Choice: A phenomenological approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 141-153.