I recently gave a presentation, entitled “The Necessity of Life” to the CILIP YLG South East Unconference in which I spoke about reading and its many benefits: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8FBwOgn-Y-8V0lNWUlMSnh5dFU/edit?usp=sharing
To me, reading is as essential as breathing and an immensely pleasurable activity. I have always been an avid reader, one of those people who, if they don’t have a book or magazine (which is rare) will read anything: that abandoned newspaper on the underground, adverts, cereal packets – and it’s hard to explain to a non-reader quite how wonderful it is. That feeling of settling down with the latest title from a favourite author, the thrill of opening a new book that you’ve been looking forward to reading, the way you get immersed in the story, the way it takes over your brain so that all you want to do is carrying on reading to find out what happens next …
Reading is also a basic life skill. It is needed for education, employment, to be able to become an active, involved member of society - without a basic literacy level you are excluded, on the outside and not able to participate in so many things – and research has shown that reading increases literacy. And surely reading needs access to books (or a source of reading material – I use the term “books” generically) and books equals libraries. Yet this reason doesn’t seem to be a good enough argument for keeping libraries, and therefore access to reading material, open.
So what about the other benefits of reading? Below are links to those I mentioned in my presentation and more … I only had about 45 minutes and there were far too many for me to use them all, you could spend the whole day researching and investigating this topic – but if you need evidence, then it’s here.
· Interesting article on reading facts from The Reading Agency: http://readingagency.org.uk/news/reading-facts003/
· National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport, DCMS, 2011: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/77395/Taking_Part_Y6_Release.pdf
· Children who read for pleasure do better at school: http://www.ioe.ac.uk/newsEvents/89938.html
· Literacy levels of adults (16 – 65): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24433320 and if you want to read the whole document: http://skills.oecd.org/OECD_Skills_Outlook_2013.pdf
· Deep reading (as opposed to superficial reading such as we do on the internet) exercises the brain and increases capacity for empathy: http://ideas.time.com/2013/06/03/why-we-should-read-literature/
· Benefits of reading every day: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/12/health-benefits-reading_n_4081258.html and http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-benefits-reading-why-you-should-read-everyday.html
· Reduces stress: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html
· Preserves memory: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130704094454.htm
· Reduces risk of dementia: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2001-03-05-alzheimers-hobbies.htm and http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022252#t=article
· Can help with depression: http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f540
· Reading books is only out of school activity linked to getting managerial or professional job: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/110804.html