The Surprising Benefits of Reading

As soon as Ellie began crawling, we knew that our bookshelf was in danger. More specifically, we knew that our books were in danger. So, Elena and I emptied out the two bottom shelves and filled them with Ellie's books. Every day she pulls all the books off the two shelves and plays with them. Sure, it gets messy with all the books on the floor, but the benefits outweigh the messiness.

We began reading to Ellie very early on, before she even knew what anything meant. And although she had no idea what we were saying, research shows that babies do pick up on rhythm, tones and inflection in their parents voice. Recent studies also show that the more words a baby is exposed to, the more prepared the baby will be to read on his or her own. "Studies have also shown that children who were read to as newborns have a larger vocabulary, as well as more advanced mathematical skills, than other kids their age." (Go to source)

In essence, reading to your child is one of the most helpful things you can do. Elena reads to Ellie every night before putting her to bed, and I read to Ellie often during our playtime. Ellie's a very active girl, so when she's playing the reading doesn't last long, but it is definitely beneficial. When she takes the books off the shelves, she many times opens a few of them and looks through them.

Imagination and Intelligence

Reading played a huge part of my childhood. Once I learned how to read, I would spend hours immersed in adventure books that transported me to exotic locations. I would see myself flying on magic carpets or finding lost treasures. This is to say that reading and imagination go hand in hand. One of the greatest mind of the 20th century and in history was Albert Einstein and he had many great things to say about imagination. You can google "Einstein quotes" and surely will find something about imagination. Of course, imagination leads to creativity. Simply put, creative people use their imagination to create. It is their imagination that fuels the passion and desire to create something amazing.

One of my favorite quotes from Einstein is this one:

"Creativity is intelligence having fun."

I think that's very true. But there's more to it than just intelligence. According to a study conducted by Anne Cunningham of the University of California in Berkeley, reading is the best way to exercise your brain. Essentially, the more you read (and by this I don't mean People magazine), the more vocabulary you acquire, thus making you more knowledgeable and also better in abstract reasoning skills. Reading is the like P90X for your brain. There also studies that suggest that reading is a great way to fight Alzheimer's. The New York Times has a great article on CEO's of large corporations that link their success to reading. Other studies show that reading only six minutes can reduce stress by 68%. Reading fiction can also make you a better person, by making you more empathetic and aware of others around you. The benefits of reading are enormous.

Why We Read

I think that C.S. Lewis said it best:

"We read to know we are not alone."

Books have been my loyal friends for many years. In books I found characters that were as almost as real as the people around me. In books I found many of my feelings and complex ideas perfectly put into words. In books I found that I was not alone, that others out there have experienced similar things in their lives.


It makes me sad when people say they hate reading. I think for the most part it means that they just haven't found a book in a subject they're interested in. I usually ask those people what are their interests and hobbies and suggest finding books that cover those topics. But for those who truly hate reading, I ask that you be wise and don't pass that apathy down to your children. Instead, encourage them to read and read to them.

Every person has phobias and pet peeves, but in our house, Elena and I have made it clear that we won't pass those things down to our children. For example, all of my life I have been a picky eater and have only gotten better after marriage. As much as I dislike certain vegetables, I am aware of their nutrition and health benefits, so I would never encourage Ellie not to eat them. On the contrary, since I want what's best for her, I want her to eat healthy and nutritious foods.

It works the same way with reading. Do you yourself and your kids a favor and read.

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