Everything changes when we read: the two major benefits of reading according to Neil Gaiman and how to teach children the love for books

This is a manifesto for the fact that so much positive change comes when we read. I am living proof. Most of my personal and professional growth comes from reading – books, ebooks, audio books, white papers, articles, courses. Most of my positivity and balance comes from the phychology and mindfulness books i’ve read. I am capable of buiding stories for work because i’ve spend time reading stories and understanding more and more about how to outline great ones.

In this lecture trabscript piece from The Guardian, the bestselling author Neil Gaiman, crafter of the Sandman, Stardust, Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book and American Gods, talks about two major reasons why reading, libraries and daydreaming have a great and essential purpose in our lives:

1. Reading is a drive generator. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going.

2. Reading fiction leads to empathy. The second thing fiction does is to build empathy. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.

And empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

Moreover, we often also find out something as we read, that iz vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this: The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different. There are options, there are diverse versions of the same reality and there is hope as much as there is despair.

On the challenging topic of how we can teach our children to love reading, Gaiman says:

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.

And here are 4 important rules to remember, on the initiative road of helping little humans discover the benefits of reading:

1. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

2. Help children get onto the reading ladder, anyway they find fit: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. Nurturing curiosity and explaining rather than talking away or pushing in a reading list are key. Variety expands an open mind.

3. Start early. Plush books and tacticle books for babies are on the market to plant the seeds of joy in relation with books, libraries and, by expantion, knowledge. Because they are, indeed, doors towards knowledge of yourself and the world.

4. Read. To them and to yourself. Remember the old saying „children do what they see, not what they are told?”. It’s evergreen. Read them stories. And find time for your own readings, even after you have children in the house.

The Rasmussen College created a compelling list of arguments on the benefits of reading for children, from the prenatal stage to adolescence. From teaching social skills in infants, to improving vocabulary and lifelong values, Here it is. Enjoy and keep on reading!

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