In a time where technology is king, young people may be more inclined to reach for their phone or tablet before they opt to pick up a book. Reading for pleasure has declined amongst teens within the last two decades, yet has innumerable benefits which can help them become more well-rounded, astute individuals.
In the age of ‘doom-scrolling’ and 15 second social media clips, getting a young person to sit down with a novel may seem a challenge. Increased digital consumption with ever changing content affects a person’s ability to concentrate on one thing for a sustained period of time. This lack of focus can impact a child’s capacity to learn and inhibits critical thinking and creativity. Reading a novel has quite the opposite effect, it forces the reader to take their time, consider information and formulate conclusions. Many schools, including this private school in Cambridge, aim to cultivate a reading culture amongst students, and encourage parents to support children in establishing literature into their daily routines at home.
Aside from an improved level of concentration, reading also contributes to a broader world view and a deeper understanding of complex topics. Literature gives young people vicarious experiences, challenging them to interpret the world from another’s perspective. This helps to disrupt preconceived notions about other people and places, andforces them to develop empathy and appreciation for the struggles the characters face. This enhanced emotional awareness will permeate into real life, helping young people develop an attitude of compassion towards other people, regardless of their background or circumstances.
Reading about challenging emotions and complex subjects will also aid young people in their emotional wellbeing. The books they read may mirror their own experiences or resonate with them on a visceral level. This can help children navigate complex emotions and may give them a different perspective, or more hopeful attitude in which to approach personal battles they face. Literature, regardless of subject matter, will contribute towards overall mental wellbeing. Reading serves as a stress reliever and provides respite from daily life, lowering anxiety-inducing cortisol levels and allowing the reader to wind down and relax.
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