What is reading?
Reading is an astoundingly complex cognitive process. While we often think of reading as one singular act, our brains are actually engaging in a number of tasks simultaneously each time we sit down with a book.
There are five aspects to the process of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary,
reading comprehension and fluency. These five aspects work together to create the reading experience. As children learn to read, they must develop skills in all five of these areas in order to become successful readers.
Want to escape without traveling anywhere? Looking to learn about a specific subject? Interested in knowing what it was like to live in the past? Reading can provide all of this and more for you! For anyone who wonders, “why is reading important?” we’re here to share the many reasons.
Yet, there are also some people who read because they are told they must for school. If you fit into that last categorization, then it may be useful to understand the many benefits of reading, which we will uncover here. We’ll also share why people read and what makes it so important.
What Are the Benefits of Reading Books?
Here are 10 benefits of reading that illustrate the importance of reading books. When you read every day you:
- Gain valuable knowledge
- Exercise your brain
- Improve your focus
- Improve your memory
- Enjoy entertainment
- Improve your ability to empathize
- Improve your communication skills
- Reduce stress
- Improve your mental health
- Live longer
How to Improve Your Reading Skills
There are a variety of ways you might improve your reading skills. You might practice speed reading to improve your fluency or make notes each time you encounter unfamiliar vocabulary. The following steps also help outline what you might do to improve and further develop your reading skills.
1. Set aside time to read each day.
One of the most effective ways to build your skills is to practice. Developing your reading skills will ultimately take practice, and you can set aside 10 to 15 minutes each day to read. You can read news articles, fiction, magazine issues or any kind of text, as long as you are taking the time to practice your reading skills.
2. Set reading goals.
You can set reading goals for yourself to help you develop a wider vocabulary, gain a deeper understanding of different texts and improve your ability to make connections between things you read and your own perspectives and ideas.
3. Preview the texts you read.
Previewing and scanning over texts can be another step toward improving your reading skills. You can apply this strategy by previewing titles, captions, headlines and other text features to get an idea of what you are reading about. This can help you form central ideas about the text before you begin reading it.
4. Determine the purpose.
As you read through different texts, practice determining the purpose. Think about why various texts were written and what meanings or themes can be understood from a text. Additionally, you might identify the purpose that you are reading for, such as to find information, follow instructions in a manual or to enjoy a story. Knowing your purpose for reading a text can help you look for key ideas and details that support your purpose.
5. Apply key reading strategies.
As you read different texts, you can apply several key strategies to help you increase your comprehension. For instance, when previewing a text, you might identify the text structure as informational, persuasive or instructional. You might also determine key elements of different texts like the central themes, problems and solutions or comparative ideas presented in what you read. Using strategies like identifying text features, determining the purpose and taking notes can all work to help you improve your reading skills.
6. Take notes while you read.
Another highly effective method for improving your reading skills is to take notes while you read. For instance, you might take notes while reading a fiction novel to gain a deeper understanding of the author’s choice of language, or you might write down new vocabulary while reading a science journal. Effective note-taking can prompt you to ask questions about and make connections to what you read.
Similarly, creating visual representations like charts, tables or diagrams can clarify themes and ideas and can help you form inferences from your reading. Note-taking can be highly beneficial for comprehension exercises like summarizing, too.
7. Apply what you read by summarizing.
Summarizing what you read can also improve your reading skills. Summarizing forces you to remember specific details and central topics about what you read in your own words and through your own unique perspective. You might try verbally summarizing what you read by sharing information with a friend or write a short summary to help you retain and comprehend what you read.
As you develop your reading skills, your communication and overall ability to interact with others and perform in your career can develop as well.