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The Joy of Reading – World Book Week

The first book I can remember being read to me is Peter and Wendy, and it sparked in me a love of reading that has lasted a lifetime. I was obsessed with the story of Peter Pan and his band of Lost Boys, and to my absolute delight, my parents took me to see the play when I was about five years old. I can remember every detail of that performance, and I still take great delight in watching the play whenever it pops up locally.

The joy we experience as readers is immense, and the benefits of reading regularly are innumerable. World Book Week has served as a wonderful reminder of the power of the written to word to uplift us, inspire us, and oftentimes, provide us with the answers we need to navigate the next phase of our lives.

In a world where very little is free nowadays, reading can provide us with relatively cost effective entertainment, and can transport us to places we could never dream up ourselves without the help of the imaginings of others. Spending some time curled up with our favourite books also offers some benefits to our mental wellbeing. A short list of some of the benefits follows below:

  1. Reading can sharpen our minds, and provides us with a bit of a mental workout. Stories often contain a myriad of characters and settings that need to be remembered, and piecing together the clues in your favourite ‘who-dunnit’ can be very stimulating, and allows us to flex some of our mental muscles. This can help us to improve our working memory, and slows the process of cognitive aging.
  2. Immersing ourselves in a book can be very relaxing (although you may want to stay away from Stephen King, or similar genres). Reading can transport us from our current realities, and offers us a chance to escape for a while. It lowers the heart rate, reduces stress and blood pressure.
  3. Reading teaches us empathy by allowing us to place ourselves in the shoes of the characters in the stories we enjoy. When we are confronted with scenarios outside of our own, we are forced to consider life from someone else’s point of view. The connections we form with some of the characters we come to know, often leave us feeling emotions that may come as a surprise to us.
  4. Reading is contagious and sets a good example for our children. Children are excellent at mimicking us, and we often see ourselves mirrored in the way they go about life, or how they respond to situations. Modelling reading as a way to relax, and enjoy some down-time goes a long way to help children discover the value of picking up a book for themselves.
  5. Reading is an excellent way to bring on sleep after a long day. It provides a signpost for your body to recognise that things are winding down, and that it no longer needs to be on high alert. This allows our minds and muscles to relax, and may help us to fall asleep without the buzz of to-do lists going through our minds.
  6. Reading can also motivate us to become better people. We are often exposed to characters who we aspire to be like in the books we read, and this may help us to identify character traits within ourselves that we would like to grow and strengthen. Reading may also help us to decide where we would like to travel to next, and who with, as the wonderful settings we find in books can stir a sense of wanderlust in us.
  7. Reading improves focus. Engaging with a book requires concentration and commitment, and this helps us to maintain a single focus for a time. It is a wonderful way to train our brains to drown out the world around us, and to immerse ourselves completely in what we are doing.

Reading is a wonderful gift that we have received from our forebears, and is something that we should try to encourage in our children as much as possible. It is a delight to see the number of Pilgrims’ who do walk around with a ‘novel in their pockets’, and it is a privilege to be able to speak to them about what they are learning and experiencing along the way. It is apt that we have celebrated World Book Week so creatively over the past few days.

Craig Cuyler
Assistant Deputy Head/Director of Wellbeing
Head of PSHEe/Deputy DSL/ Assistant Housemaster


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