By Henda AlBiatty, MPH
Michigan State University School of Public Health, East Lansing, MI
“A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.” ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958
I can’t remember the first book I ever read or when my passion for reading flourished but as a young child my room was constantly filled with books. Most of my books were novels with the most suspenseful plots and intriguing characters. When I started reading a book I was transported from my current reality to the wonderful world of my imagination. I felt as if I was living the adventures, riding the emotional roller coaster and becoming one with the story. The books, the story, the characters they became part of my life, my memories; it was inescapable. Every time I finished a book I was left weary, lost almost of how to re-enter my reality without my friends and our unforgettable journeys. The taste of a great book always lingered on until I began the next one.
After working in an elementary school setting for the past two years I observed that most students don’t have a zest for reading. The younger children who are just learning to recognize words and connect sentences together find reading as sense of accomplishment. With the older children the skill of reading is utilized to finish homework assignments and take exams. The passion to read as a form of growth and exploration is almost non-existent. While the skill of reading is highly emphasized in a classroom environment the motive is ultimately to have high test scores. By instilling a self-propelling desire to read books whether fiction or non-fiction children and adults alike are more compelled to comprehend the information, connect various ideas together and critically think beyond the text.
Reading is not just for leisure but rather for growth, excitement and education. The importance of reading begins at birth. During the first three years of a child’s life the brain is about 90% developed. By adding reading sessions during the goodnight rituals children will develop stronger cognitive associations between the visual and auditory contents of the book. With all the various advancements in technology, reading is a just a click away. Reading visually or audibly is more feasible and inexpensive than before. Seizing these opportunities and incorporating them into your lifestyle will create a great impact. For children and adults, reading enhances their vocabulary, cultivates their interests, and ameliorates their writing skills.
Our world is ever changing but the written word will not cease to have the greatest effect on our lives.