As an elementary school teacher, I preach the importance of reading all day long. I teach a reading strategy lesson every day, facilitate conversations about books with students, and assign reading every single night for homework. I can’t tell you the amount of times I remind my students that they should be reading each day because it will help them grow in every aspect of their life.
Since all I do every day is talk about how important and beneficial reading is, you’d think I’d be reading books all day long, right? Well, not exactly. Sometimes I really need to check in on whether I’m fulfilling my promise to practice what I preach, because between all of my responsibilities as a teacher and trying to maintain a personal life, and not to mention….my physical & mental health, sometimes reading gets completely lost in the shuffle.
If we are talking in the literal sense, I do technically read a TON every day. I read text messages, Instagram captions, Facebook posts, lesson plans, curriculum guides, student writing pieces…the list goes on. More often than not, I’m reading something that isn’t a book. So, what I’m really trying to get at is that we as adults should be reading BOOKS. Yup, I said it. Real, physical, made-of-paper, books.
I notice that whenever I see somebody reading a book on the subway or in a coffee shop I always think to myself, “Wow! That person must be really smart! How intellectual of them!” I’m always trying to get a glimpse of what they’re reading, and thinking that it must be something really good for them to carry the book around with them. I think this is because reading culture has shifted so drastically to the digital sphere and reading an actual paper book now is cool, or edgy, or something like that.
I’ve made the realistic goal for myself to start reading 2 books every month. Since I like to put my phone away and have 30 minutes of unplugged time before bed, I’ve been trying to use this time to catch up on my reading. Whenever I’m tempted to watch yet another episode of Broad City on Netflix, or mindlessly scroll Instagram instead of reading, I remind myself of these reasons why I believe we should be reading books:
1. It allows you to unplug. Reading a physical book is such a different experience for me versus reading an e-book or article on the computer or my tablet. When I use technology to read, the temptation to close out of the text and check social media or Google something random that pops into my head is just way too easy. When you have a physical book in your hands, that’s all that is in your hands. Reading a paper book is one of the few times I feel completely focused on the task at hand, because the book is what it is, a book, not a computer full of information and distractions. This is calming, and so good for the mind, especially before bed. Letting yourself focus on one thing, one story, rather than the million other things in your life is an amazing stress-relief tactic.
2. It makes you a better reader & writer. I always tell my students that if they come across a new word in a book they’re reading to jot it down. I’ve been doing the same recently, and it makes me much more inclined to then actually use that word in a real-life interaction. Our language skills have the ability to grow every day, and expanding our vocabulary is a big part of this, no matter your age. I also love finding new text structures or plays on words in books that I can borrow in my own writing and conversations. Being a strong reader and writer is an essential part of teaching children how to read and write, and honestly, it’s just a really crucial skill to have for any job, so being a lifelong reader is just an overall win for skill growth.
3. It improves your conversations with people. When is the last time someone said to you, “I am dying to tell you about this amazing book I just read!” rather than “Did you see that meme I posted on my story?” Not saying anything negative about memes, because trust me, I absolutely adore them. My point is, if you bring up a book or tell someone that they need to read a book, I feel like they’re much more likely to listen to what you have to say. Then, get this, if they end up taking your recommendation to read the book, you can talk to this person about the book. In my opinion, this is a much more productive use of time than gossiping or rehashing an episode of whatever was on TV last night.
What’s on your must-read list?