I can't imagine a life without reading. I love everything about books - their covers, their smell, the bookstores that display them, authors who write them; but most of all, I love books because of the journey they take me on.
I can be sitting on a train, in my car, on my couch, but I am not there (sorry, for those whom I have accidently ignored over the years) - I am off observing a character, taking a holiday, having a little crush, adventuring through magical worlds. The only downside is when life gets back in the way, and I am forced to close the book, with a sigh. Soon we will be together again, my friend.
What amazes me is when people say they don't enjoy reading. People of all ages. I find myself drawing breath, hoping they can't hear my amazement. I truly don't know what to say, so I end up laughing along with them, like it's okay, When, it's not okay. Not okay at all.
You may be like me, and crave the written page, or maybe you feel reading is a chore, or just not your thing. If you are the latter, then I'm sure you have your reasons. But, I am here to tell you, it doesn't have to be that way. I know, because I have seen - first hand - children who didn't like to read, grow to love reading. With a little effort, it can happen.
First, let's spend a few moments exploring the merits of reading.
Here's 10 benefits of reading:
1. Practice makes perfect. The more we read, the better we get.
2. It actually gives our brain a workout. Okay, so there are no fit bits, or 2XU tights involved, but reading a book is much more complex for our brains than say, watching TV. Reading strengthens our brain connections.
3. Helps improve concentration.
4. Develops imagination.
5. Helps you become a better writer. All good writers, read a lot.
6. Exposes you to a rich and wide vocabulary. Now that's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
7. Identifying with characters in books helps us develop empathy for others. Okay, and also maybe a bit nutty - crying for people who don't even exist?!
8. It is truly a wonderful form of entertainment - and you can read anywhere, in a long queue, on commute (not whilst driving, people), or snuggled into bed while the weather rages around you.
9. Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind. hmmmmmmm
10. Helps you do better at school ie keeps the parents and teachers happy. Tick.
Okay, one more:
11. Because it is awesome!
Where to start?
If you're not much of a reader, perhaps I have started to convince you that it's possible. But, I don't know where to start? you say. Well, help is at hand. Here are some ideas of what you can do to spark the flame.
First, think about what you like to read. No one said you have to like everything you read. You may know what you like, or maybe you have never thought about, or explored the idea of what you enjoy to read. Well, now is the time to start.
The best (and cheapest) way is to borrow books from the library. Librarians are great people to talk to about books, and usually have the best recommendations. Most libraries can get books in from other libraries, so don't feel limited or overwhelmed by what is on the shelves.
Just start with something. See if you like it. If not, just send it back unread (on time and avoid the hefty late fees:), and get another. If you do, then yippee, you are onto something.
What to read?
The are many different genres of books to explore. Here's a link to a good list of genres to learn more about them.
Expand your love of reading
Once you find something you love, then explore from there, gradually expanding your interests, learning what kind of books you like. Trust me, soon you will be hooked, and taking your book or ereader with you, wherever you go.
Once you are into it a bit more, there are lots of ways you can learn more about books you want to read, and share your love of books.
A book club is a great way to share in the joy of books and good conversation. You also get to read lots of new books you would never normally read, and this helps you broaden your tastes and make new friends, too.
Here are some great websites:
Fantastic for the latest book news and reviews. You can also join and become a reviewer of books.
Goodreads is an amazing resource for book recommendations and reviews. You can also join up and rate books to help other members choose books.
There's also lots of blogs out there to learn from (just google: tween book blogs). Here's a couple.
There are also books and websites that 'recommend' books for certain ages. You can get these books from the library, or there is an online version of one here.
It's possible to learn to enjoy reading
It is possible to learn to enjoy reading, even if you're a little late getting started. Go slow, but make sure you get started. Books are a true gift and pleasure, and can see you through all stages of your life. They can teach, comfort, dazzle and entertain. I wish you good reading, good day and good luck.
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favourite book.
Need more convincing?
Here is a great TED talk from author, Mac Barnett, about why a good book a secret door. It is very funny, and worth a listen.