If you’re an avid reader you may have heard about Drop Everything and Read Day (D.E.A.R.). D.E.A.R. Day is a part of Drop Everything and Read month, a national event that promotes regular reading. It’s held every year on April 12th. Why April 12th? Because that’s the birthday of beloved writer Beverly Clearly, who mentioned D.E.A.R. month in her book Ramona Quimby, Age 8.
Pro-Vision Academy charter school is a strong supporter of D.E.A.R. We remind our students every day that reading is an important ‘fun’damental for their education and their brains. Without it our literacy skills, listening skills and health just wouldn’t be at their best!
Strengthen Your Brain by Reading
Reading feeds and exercises the brain. That’s the finding from numerous studies that examined what happens in the brain as we read. Researchers have found that as we read:
- Our eyes scan the page and the visual cortex is at work.
- Memory receptors are engaged so that you remember what you’ve already read and connect it with other details.
- When you read you experience and learn new things, which helps you to strengthen connectivity in the brain.
- Scientists at Georgetown University have also found that improving your reading skills can also increase gray matter (brain cells)!
- Kids with good reading skills have more activity in the parietal cortex of the brain. Improving your reading skills will increase activity in this brain region.
Researchers are now using imaging technology to get a better picture of brain activity while reading. The research is being conducted to discover new ways of helping children with reading disabilities by studying children with strong reading skills. They’ve found that problems connecting sounds with letters and processing that information is a primary cause of dyslexia reading difficulties. Now new reading exercises are being developed to help overcome the problem. So quiet time reading even affects the speech areas of the brain.
Research out of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston lead to the development of alphabetic principle reading instruction. This has proven to be very impactful in helping young readers process more effective brain-activation patterns while reading.
Many areas of the brain are actively engaged when we’re reading. The more you work the brain with reading the stronger it will become. If you want to boost your brain power, work in at least 20 minutes of reading time a day.
This daily practice will help kids become better readers and keep their brains sharp as they age. A number of studies have shown that people who regularly read throughout their lives have slower memory decline as they age and are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Relax With a Book
Stress affects everyone, and it can negatively impact your health in a lot of ways. New research from the Mindlab International at the University of Sussex found that reading is one of the best ways to relieve stress. On average all it took was 6 minutes for study participants to cut their tension by 68%. That makes reading better than listening to music (61% less stress), taking a walk (42% less stress) and playing video games (21% less stress).
When you reduce stress by reading before you go to bed it can also improve your sleep. Just remember to pick up a book instead of an electronic device because the bright lights can keep you awake for longer.
Read Whatever You Like Most
What you read isn’t as important as the act itself. For instance, the research on stress relief above found that the benefits were the same no matter what study participants read. So go ahead and pick up a comic book or magazine if you like. As long as it has words to read, your brain and body will see the benefits.
However, if you want to increase your empathy (ability to understand the feelings of others) researchers suggest that you read fiction. Two studies came to the conclusion that after just one week of reading fiction people felt their ability to be empathetic had improved.
Want to help kids in need become better readers? Learn about volunteering opportunities at Pro-Vision Academy.