By Kathleen Passanisi. Kathleen Passanisi PT, CSP, CPAE is an internationally recognized transformational speaker, therapeutic humor expert, healthcare professional and author. She has spoken to bajillions of people about life balance, wellness, the power of perception, and the link that exists between humor and health. Kathleen is a member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame and the funniest woman in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri (and, quite possibly, the Western Hemisphere.) For more information on Kathleen's presentations, books and products please visit the New Perspectives website at www.KathleenPassanisi.com
If you are reading this, congratulations. You are probably pretty exceptional.
Either your voracious love for the written word has brought you to this small undertaking, or you are being forced by such a person to learn a thing or two. One in four Americans read no books at all last year according to a recent Associated Press poll. Forty-two million American adults cannot read at all.
So, congratulations again, on either your love of reading or willingness to try. The physical, emotional, and mental benefits last a lifetime – and you'll most likely have some fun in the process. So snuggle into your favorite reading spot, fish out your special reading glasses (if applicable), and grab a healthy snack. Your life-long relationship with reading (even if it's a little rocky right now) will most likely be one of the most rewarding in your life.
The benefits of reading to/as a child:
Reading with a child benefits the child's life in and out of the classroom for the rest of his life. Early exposure to books helps assure the child's grasp of phonics, vocabulary, and oral comprehension. Reading to infants has even been shown to increase phonemic awareness, the ability to play with sounds, a major precursor in learning to speak. Children who are frequently read to have broader, more detailed imaginations, longer concentration, and a better grasp on the world around them. Children who engage in picture books often have higher appreciation for visual art later in life. And, perhaps most importantly, reading to a child can create a mutual lifelong bond, and it's practically effortless! For detailed tips on reading to children from infants to age four, please visit www.childliteracy.com.
The benefits of reading as a pre-teen, teen, and twenty-something:
Many students read only because they have to. Little do they know, however, that somewhere between Napoleon and Jane Eyre they are building valuable life skills.
Avid readers score higher on standardized tests, which can open hundreds of academic and occupational doors. But reading can also offer something more immediately important: an escape. At an age when cruelty is a common hobby, reading can transport the bullied to an entirely new world. There they can find hope for the future and relate to characters that share their plight.
Between The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird, high school literature curriculum cleverly addresses a whole host of adolescent problems. Re-discovering these books in your twenties (when no essay word count hangs over your head) can be a bittersweet reminder of where you've been and where you'd still like to go.
It also constantly improves your vocabulary – a trait many look for in potential mates. Reading shows a continued interest in world events and a constant thirst for knowledge – and many people in their twenties find that very attractive. Just make sure you choose wisely. Kerouac and Salinger show your intellectually adventurous side. Shakespeare and Plath show you have emotional issues you aren't afraid to work through. And US Weekly gives the impression you are probably just looking at the fashion photos.
The benefits of reading as an adult:
Once the era of the classroom is long behind you, the benefits of continued reading come into play in the boardroom. The well-read are considered "experts" in many occupational fields. Even if you're feeling far from the best and the brightest, reading any genre can help break creative slumps. Books can also help clarify complex subjects and spark valuable discussions.
Reading can change your home life, too! The physical act of reading can send the mind into a meditative state, which can relieve life's daily stresses. How often have you nodded off in the middle of a good book only to wake up feeling deeply rested a few hours later? And once you've picked up some valuable life tools, reading can also help you live better – longer. Reading exercises the brain in a way that has been shown to help prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
A little more inspiration:
The average paperback book costs less than a movie ticket and entertains an average of five times longer. Books are easily transportable (unless they are one of the later Harry Potters) so you can learn and enjoy almost anywhere.
Books require no fancy devices like TiVo. You can read whenever you like, for as long or as little as you would like. It's all on your terms. And a library card is free! No other life-transforming, boredom-erasing, imagination-expanding device is so easily accessible. It really is that simple.
Your life will become more extraordinary with every page you read. Just ask the queen of fanciful literature, J.K. Rowling. When given the task of sending the 2008 Harvard graduates out into the world, she issued this warning, ""I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid." Pick up a book and get carried away. No matter where you wind up, you'll be better off than the one in four American adults who didn't even try.
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