We are reprising our ‘Reading Resolution’ promotion in Warwickshire Libraries this January, not because we’re too lazy to think up new ideas but because we’re passionate about reading for pleasure.
Whenever I read about the benefits of reading for mental health and how it reduces stress, I mentally nod along in agreement as I can’t think of a single thing other than reading that helps me relax more. (Admittedly I would probably feel the same about watching the Northern Lights from a glass igloo in deepest darkest Finland but alas, that is but something I can only read about!)
The evidence for the positive effects of reading on children and babies is strong: reading to them aids speech development, relaxes them and ultimately turns them into readers – which is good for them! Scientists have proven that babies recognise their parent’s voices from when they were in the womb and that speaking, singing and reading to them makes them more relaxed – amazing. We always say that it is never too early to start reading to your child and this is so so true but I wanted to reassure you that it is also true that it is never too late to start reading to your child. Don’t worry if you are not a confident reader – choose books with more pictures and read them together or listen to an audio book…
Now there seems to be a misnomer that only children enjoy being read to and most adults don’t often read aloud, but again the evidence says that reading aloud is GOOD for you so why not read to your loved ones or your dog or even just read aloud to yourself? We know that adults enjoy listening to stories; just look at the rise in audio book sales and loans, so why not read aloud as a family or group? Sharing stories brings people together and builds empathy – what more reason do you need?
My favourite books to read aloud:
There is a point to all of this, I promise!
I am writing this to try and encourage you all to set aside a little time over the coming year to pick up a book/a device/some headphones and take a moment (hopefully several) to enjoy reading and to share some stories with your baby or child. Show them the wonder of reading – that you, as the centre of their universe, value books and reading and you will be giving them the very best start in life. Some people might find reading more than one book in a year a challenge and others may find it a challenge to limit their reading in any way! Whichever way round you feel, there are books out there you can enjoy.
If you are like me and consider reading more important than sustenance then perhaps you should slow down – give the old peepers a rest! Maybe it’s time to dip into the world of audio books. Crazy I know! But give it a try. Find something that you have read and loved, then settle back and listen – the beauty of this is that you can carry on doing all those important things whilst listening or you can just close your eyes and drift away. Another tip is to choose something on audio that you feel like you ought to have read but can’t justify taking the time out of your precious TBR pile to read, something that everyone is raving about or a biography that you’re curious about. There was a point in my life when the only thing I could relax to was PG Wodehouse – not an author that would ever normally make his way into my reading sphere but now someone who I admire greatly and I think of his stories with great affection.
My challenge to you all would be to read more and if you already read a lot then to read more widely. Try something new, challenge yourself!
Three wonderful PG Wodehouse stories to listen to:
Now I know that we are among friends and that my next topic might be met with shock (and disdain) but it really is time to talk about eBooks. I know that many of you have signed a contract to never be more than five feet from a physical book and probably have invested in eReader repellent, but allow me to just say my piece in their defence. Consider, if you will, how eReaders/tablets/phones can improve access to reading; you can increase the font size, adjust the lighting, change fonts and many other things you simply can’t do with standard print books. There is also the weight – eReaders are lighter than books and you can read one-handed. My device became invaluable when my son was a baby and I spent many hours holding him while he slept – a paper book would have been unwieldy but my eReader was ‘just right’. eBooks are great for travelling, not just to faraway lands but to and fro from work on the train or the bus. You don’t have to remember your page, they don’t take up much space in your bag and importantly for me – no one knows what you’re reading.
What am I reading, you wonder? – You’ll never find out!!!
You can download eBooks without having to go to the library, you can do it on the train or in a coffee shop or late at night when you can’t sleep and you don’t have to remember to take them back, they return themselves automatically. Magic! We are all creatures of habit and yes, it will be strange adapting to this alien way of reading. You’ll miss the weight of a book and the tactile turning of pages, but I say – try it. In my defence, I am an omnivorous reader. I appreciate books in all formats so I do still read physical books. I have, however, adapted very well to reading electronically and sometimes find myself confused when reading a real book and the room gets dark and my page doesn’t light up!
Some eBook treasures:
I fully understand that some of you will remain card carrying (library of course) members of the ‘print books forever’ campaign and rest assured I am not trying to convert you! You may be at a stage where you are wondering ‘what next’ or thinking that you haven’t read a book in years so why start now? This is why we are always thinking in libraries of ways we can introduce you to your next favourite read or get you back into reading or simply tempt you with something irresistible. Thankfully, people really do love to share their reading and ideas and there is a wealth of information available online to support your reading odyssey. I will add links at the end for some suggested sites to get you started. You can find ideas on our catalogue pages, from our blog and in the library. A great place to look for your next read is the ‘Just Returned’ shelves in your local library – you can see what others have been reading and chances are you’ll find something of interest there.
Some of you I know are thinkers more than readers and to you I say – there’s a whole world of discoveries for you in the library. I have taken the liberty of selecting but a few for your delectation:
Sapiens – audio
Fire and Fury – audio
So there you have it, I hope that you find something to peak your interest and that you now feel inspired to take a closer look at our online offer. I’ll leave you with some interesting links around reading, health and recommendations.
Happy New Year to all of you!
Arts Council Report – Health and Wellbeing benefits of Public Libraries
ASCEL Bump Booster Toolkit (parents to be)