learn to see patterns more quickly,
develop better analytical skills, and
acquire more general knowledge about the world.
function more easily in a world filled with writing and
feel more confident about themselves.
reduces stress levels,
helps brains produce more white matter, and
helps people retain cognitive skills.
strengthens our ability to focus over extended periods of time,
helps us see how events are related, and
helps us see how the past affects the future.
helps us determine what we need to remember
and what we can safely forget.
Students who get to choose their own books to read…
improve their vocabulary, spelling and grammar skills,
increase their cultural knowledge,
increase their confidence in reading and writing,
increase their creativity, and
increase their reading comprehension skills.
“It [fiction] allows us to see the world from the point of view of someone else and there has been quite a lot of neurological research that shows reading novels is actually good for you. It embeds you in society and makes you think about other people. People are certainly better at all sorts of things if they can hold a novel in their heads. It is quite a skill, but if you can’t do it then you’re missing out on something in life.” Philip Hensher
Students who hear adults read aloud to them…
increase their reading comprehension,
increase their vocabulary, and
increase their enjoyment of reading.
“The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud—it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.” Mem Fox
Students become more interested in reading when they…
see book displays,
take part in book discussions,
attend schools with well-stocked libraries,
regularly visit school and public libraries,
are allowed to borrow many books at once,
see adults reading books,
hear adults talking about books, and
can find a quiet calm environment in which to read.
“In this way, I was able to place my own concerns aside and curl myself up in the cocoon of somebody else’s imagination. My life was suspended – I was in neither one place nor the other.” Kate Kerrigan
Without free choice reading, it is difficult for students to ever reach the highest levels of reading.
“(…) perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they weren’t also dangerous, just because reading them didn’t make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the reader’s brain.” Terry Pratchett
“There is something called the rapture of the deep, and it refers to what happens when a deep-sea diver spends too much time at the bottom of the ocean and can’t tell which way is up. When he surfaces, he’s liable to have a condition called the bends, where the body can’t adapt to the oxygen levels in the atmosphere. All of this happens to me when I surface from a great book.” Nora Ephron
“I see all of us reading ourselves away from ourselves, straining in circles of light to find more light until the line of words becomes a trail of crumbs that we follow across a page of fresh snow…”Billy Collins
“For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.” Louis L’Amour
Why borrow books from libraries?
Libraries offer thousands of choices.
And all of the books are free.
So, you can take out all sorts:
quiet, lonely, excited, hopeful, happy books;
history, science, drama, sports, music books;
books for reading slowly and
books for rushing though to the end;
books for glancing at the pictures and
books for stopping to daydream;
books to read when you have five minutes to spare and
books to read when you want to tune out the world.
You don’t have to choose wisely in a library.
You can be frivolous, mindless, dilettantish,
randomly choosing books
from the trolleys and
from the shelves.
Take books home.
Let them pile up on your tables and chairs.
Heap them in corners.
Stack them to the ceilings.
Surround yourself with books
and enjoy life!
For more information, read…
The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research by Stephen D. Krashen (Libraries Unlimited, 2004) and
The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin (Sasquatch Books, 2010).
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” – Carl Sagan
“Books may not change our suffering, books may not protect us from evil, books may not tell us what is good or what is beautiful, and they will certainly not shield us from the common fate of the grave. But books grant us myriad possibilities: the possibility of change, the possibility of illumination.” – Alberto Manguel
“…it’s not difficult to identify with somebody like yourself, somebody next door who looks like you. What’s more difficult is to identify with someone you don’t see, who’s very far away, who’s a different color, who eats a different kind of food. When you begin to do that then literature is really performing its wonders.” – Chinua Achebe
“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” — Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory