The importance of reading – or, how Harry Potter really is magic!

2 min read

“Reading is the single most important skill necessary for a happy, productive and successful life.” – National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Reading is so important in everyday life: when driving, we need to be able to read road signs; in a restaurant, we need to read the menu; when shopping, we need to read ingredients; we receive post, such as bank statements and communications – the list is endless and it’s clear that reading is more important than ever.

Our ancestors had very little need to read things. They could interact and communicate solely through talking and not being able to read wouldn’t necessarily limit you. These days, it’s possible to communicate only with the written word: sending texts or emails, reading and writing articles or posts means we actually never need to speak out loud ever again!

When encouraging reading, we generally tend to focus on how reading can broaden your horizons and improve your imagination. We also look at how being exposed to language can support learning vocabulary and grammar – all of which are incredibly important.  

Did you know reading actually has health and social benefits as well?

Reading fiction can help increase empathy. When you read a book, you tend to identify with the characters and you begin to better understand their reasons and rationale for doing things. You can put yourself in the character’s shoes and explore their emotions safely, which helps you to recognise when you experience those feelings.

Books can also be used to develop a strong sense of self as you tune in to common traits between you and characters.  A brilliant study – The greatest magic of Harry Potter: reducing prejudice – has found that children who have read Harry Potter showed improved attitudes to groups of people who often suffer from prejudice, such as immigrants, refugees and people who identify as LGBT.

As well as this, there is a huge amount of evidence to support the idea that reading can bring about important health benefits: it can reduce stress levels and the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Reading can alleviate anxiety and depression and help with falling asleep. It’s also been shown that reading for as little as 30 minutes per day can increase your life expectancy by up to as much as two years! As any bookworm can tell you, it can also make you feel much happier. 

“It turns out that reading silently for only six minutes has been shown to reduce heart rate and ease muscle tension. In fact, that small amount of reading worked better for relaxation than other proven methods such as listening to music, going for a walk, or sipping a cup of tea.”

Andrew Merle Clearly the benefits of reading are huge, so why not find somewhere comfy to settle in and pick up a book?

Article by Laura Young Santos

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