Across the Street: We should all read every day |

Across the Street: We should all read every day

Joyce Rankin
Across the Street
Joyce Rankin
Larry Laszlo photo

I recently read an article by Catherine Winter titled the Ten Benefits of Reading: Why you should read every day. Many writers have written articles about the “Five (or Ten) Most Important…”, and you can fill in the blank. I’ve been intrigued by these articles because I can quickly skim through the headlines and see what people are thinking. Then, of course, I consider how the author’s opinions align with mine.

We were in total alignment about improved focus and concentration. I identified with this because of the books I’ve read that I just can’t put down. Summertime reading is usually the best time to grab a popular book on the bestseller list that captivates our imagination and sends it into another place and time. This article, however, discusses how the internet pulls our attention in several directions all at once. In a single five-minute particle of time, a person may divide his or her time between checking email, working on a task, chatting online with a couple of friends (Skype, Facebook, etc.), checking Twitter and cell phone messages, while possibly interacting with another person. What this does is cause stress levels to rise and productivity to decrease. Yikes, that’s a scary thought.

While reading a book, in contrast, your attention is focused on the story. If you only read 20 minutes before you go to work, you’ll be more focused by the time you get there. It can be a real benefit for those who take the bus.

Besides focus and concentration, there are other reasons why you should read every day. They include knowledge, stress reduction, vocabulary expansion, memory improvement and stronger analytical skills.

Children should also read every day. Annabelle Short cites 10 Reasons why Reading is Important for Kids. She lists vocabulary expansion, making sense of the world around them, improved grammar, enhanced imagination, and in my opinion, most importantly, “it leads to their future academic success.”

I’ve frequently written about the importance of teaching reading at the elementary school level because I believe it’s the school’s most important mission.

During the next two months, I’ll be traveling around the district speaking to community members about the READ ACT, or SB19-199. This bill was passed unanimously by the 100-member state Legislature. It makes reading a top priority for grades K-3. It’s a law that, when enacted with fidelity, can improve academic success for all students.

Joyce Rankin is a member of the State Board of Education. The Department of Education is located across the street from the Capitol. “Across the Street” will appear monthly.

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