The 8th of September was proclaimed International Literacy Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1966 to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies. International Literacy Day 2020 focuses on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective.
Reading is a great pastime. It also comes packed with many benefits. Think of the last time you read a book, or a magazine article. It does not matter whether it is for information or enjoyment. Reading is a fun and inexpensive hobby with the use of Libraries or electronic reading devices! People who read often enjoy much more than just a good story. Scientific studies have found many benefits of reading from reducing stress and enhancing sleep to improving memory circuits, sharpening decision-making and may even slow the onset of Alzheimer or dementia diseases.
For stress reduction – stress from your daily life can just slip away when you find yourself in the middle of a great story. A novel can transport you to another place and time. It is a great distraction from the present moment and will drain away tensions and let you relax.
Increasing your knowledge – who does not want to be smarter? You may not remember every iota you read, but the information deposits knowledge into your brain that you can use. It better equips you to tackle challenges. Knowledge you gain is always yours.
Expansion of your vocabulary – being articulate and well-spoken can be of great benefit in any profession. It also boosts self-esteem and confidence. People with a better vocabulary get job promotions more quickly.
Increases your awareness – reading about scientific breakthroughs, global events and national and local issues increases the window you see the world through. It helps you understand others better.
Improves your memory – reading a book gives your brain lots to work with and try to remember, including a variety of characters, scenery and surroundings of the characters, the history that’s provided, sub-plots that are developing and so on. Every memory you make forges new brain pathways and strengthens existing ones. This helps to strengthen short-term memory recall as well as stabilizing a person’s mood.
Gives you better analytical thinking skills – This is especially true when you are in the habit of reading mysteries, as I am, that you must carefully think through in order to solve. The pieces of the plot are given to you one by one and your brain must try to piece them together to arrive at the solution. This exercise carries over into everyday living to help you solve other problems.
Provides mental stimulation – keeping yourself mentally stimulated has been shown by research studies to slow or possibly prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. Keeping your brain in a state of action and engagement prevents it from dwindling or losing its capacity. Brains need exercise too, just like all the muscles in the body.
Provides a better sleep - this can become a bedtime ritual that signals the body that it is time for sleep. This activity induces shut eye when it’s a real book. It is better than falling asleep in front of a television screen or other electronic device, which has been proven to keep people awake longer or even disrupt their rest.
So, celebrate International Literacy Day by reading a book with someone, then talk about it. Read a story to your grandchild over the phone, or through Zoom, Skype or FaceTime to share and socialize with them. Give them a list of the books you read as a child. See if anything interests them as they may want to read some of them and then discuss them with you.
Reading can be an alternative reality to COVID-19 which we very much need right now. Remember the Peachland Wellness Centre has books and a boutique, and they will be operational again in September for you to share in. Call 250-767-0141 for more information on the books, the boutique, and the Programs and Services of the Peachland Wellness Centre.