There are many reasons to encourage children to develop a love of reading at an early age. Good reading skills are crucial in school in all areas of study, not just English and literature. What’s more, kids who read every day and who enjoy reading learn more skills like creative thinking and logic, and at the same time are gathering more information and knowledge about the world around them. However, there’s a difference between reading for research and reading for enjoyment. In fact, even though here at 7 Speed Reading we emphasize that speed isn’t everything – you have to also comprehend and remember what you’re reading – and that there are times when it’s better to slow down your reading pace. One example of when a slower pace is better is when you’re dealing with vocabulary and information that is completely new to you, or very complex in nature. Another is when you’re reading for pleasure. After all, in a work of fiction you want to immerse yourself in the world that the author has created and get the most out of every nuance in the text and plot and character development. You wouldn’t fast-forward through a movie you’ve never seen and expect to get the same enjoyment out of the film, so why would you need to skim as fast as possible through a book that’s designed to help you relax and have fun?
“Deep reading” is something that helps you learn to enjoy the act of reading, and not just look at reading as an efficient way of gathering information. Annie Murphy Paul, author of the books Brilliant: The Science of Smart and How to be Brilliant, describes deep reading as “slow, immersive, rich in sensory detail and emotional and moral complexity.” By reading more slowly and thinking about what you are reading, letting your brain make the connections between the text and your own memories and experiences, you become better at analyzing and handling everyday tasks and increase the power of your mind to encompass and integrate information so that you make the most of it and of the opportunities around you. Learning to read and enjoy books as a child has been proven by many researchers to lead to better job prospects. One of the latest studies, led by Mark Taylor at Nuffield College, Oxford, tracked a large group of children born in May 1970 to see where they ended up in their 40s. Of the 17,000 people in the study, Taylor found that those who enjoyed reading at age 16 were much more likely to be in upper-management positions in their 30s, as opposed to those who did not enjoy reading and instead played computer games or sports.
It’s just one of the many reasons why parents need to encourage their children to read, and to set an example by providing books and promoting visits to libraries. For more information on the study done by the researchers at Nuffield College, read this article at the National Literary Trust website. You can also read Annie Murphy Paul’s article on deep reading at the Mind/Shift blog sponsored by KQED here.