September 19, 2012

Guess What? Reading Is Good For Your Brain

A book being read

Turns out that reading is good for your brain. Duh.

But you know something? It’s good when people point this out. In this case it was an item on Huffington Post.

Reading is valuable — not only for entertainment or knowledge value, but for exercising your brain.

I never used to think about that aspect of reading. Then I saw an episode of Boston Public where Denny Crane, the character played by the possibly immortal William Shatner (toupee or no toupee, the guy has a lot of energy for an 81-year-old), visits a doctor to discuss his brain decay. (I’m simplifying.) One of the doctor’s suggestions was that Mr. Crane do more activities that exercise the brain — crossword puzzles, and yes, reading more books. That little moment of television stayed with me and I now make an effort to do crossword puzzles, play word games, and yes, read more books.

But that’s about me, an adult. (An adult who loves superheroes, comic books, and cartoons, but an adult nonetheless.) How about reading and kids?

A DaddyTip About Reading, And Why Reading Isn’t “Nerdy”

With children, it’s always a good idea to get them started with reading as soon as you can. I’m not suggesting you go all Tiger Mom and make sure your children can translate War and Peace by the time they start kindergarten. My DaddyTip is that you should read to your kids, and encourage them to enjoy books even before they are able to read them on their own. Board books, comic books (don’t start), whatever. Leave them in their rooms when they’re babies so they get used to the concept that books are a part of daily life. As a bonus, once they are able to read, they will have an activity to occupy them almost anywhere. There is no better babysitter than a good book. (Well, maybe Mary Poppins. But she can fly.)

It’s worth noting that reading is still not considered a cool activity for kids everywhere. Here’s another story from Huffington Post via YCTeen.org. this one written by a teenager. It starts thusly:

Recently I was “caught” reading at McDonald’s by a group of kids at my school. I say “caught” because many of my peers consider reading to be a lame activity. They think it’s something that only geeks do.

Wow. That sucks. I’ll share another paragraph that I liked:

It wasn’t the first time that something like that happened. When I occasionally go to the library, kids ask me why I’m reading. “It’s a library, that’s what you’re supposed to do!” They just shake their heads. 

“It’s a library, that’s what you’re supposed to do!” Love that.

What I don’t love is the fact that kids are still being told reading is for nerds. I suppose I knew this was still happening, especially in communities such as Bed-Stuy, which is where this particular kid is from. The well-written article by Anthony Turner from YCTeen goes into issues of race as well. There’s also a video.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Bottom line: reading is good for your brain. Young brains. Old brains. Middle-aged brains. (Braiinnnnssss… Sorry, couldn’t resist.) But seriously folks. Read. And to Anthony Turner, or any other kid who gets teased for reading? If possible, show your tormentors this little infographic about Bill Gates and Michael Jordan. No disrespect to Mike, but most of the time, nerds win. So go read.

Image via The Prelinger Archives

Why Reading Is Good For Your Brain via HuffPo

What’s Wrong With Reading? by Anthony Turner – YCTeen via HuffPo

Michael Jordan VS Bill Gates – infographic via This Blog Rules

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