In honour of World Literacy Day, I wanted to highlight the importance of reading, and acknowledge the fact that many of us have been fortunate enough to have a great education in which we’ve learnt how to read and write. Unfortunately, a large proportion of the world’s population has not had this opportunity, which is why we mustn’t take reading for granted. It is important to appreciate the benefits of reading; how a simple piece of writing has the power to empower, educate and entertain. What are the benefits of reading and how can we help those who aren’t able to have the same opportunities that we do?
What are the benefits?
Even if it is just for a moment, reading provides us an escape from reality and expands our imagination. It is proven to have incredible benefits towards our mental wellbeing and ability to empathise with people. By viewing the world from a point of view that is not your own, you become more empathetic. It helps you understand people’s perspectives from their points of view and not just your own – which is something that a lot of us need to work on. Communication is key for almost every human relationship; being able to empathise with others and understand their view will build the skill of communication enabling more healthy relationships.
In terms of mental stability – reading helps you to reduce your stress levels in under 10 minutes. By taking your mind into a new world, where your own stresses don’t exist, you are able to relax for a moment. Reducing your stress levels is a proven way that allows you to sleep better. In this time of constant technological connection, our sleep is suffering. The blue light emitted from screens disrupts melatonin levels (the sleep hormone) which causes disruption to our sleep/wake cycle. Take some time before you go to bed to read just one chapter or 10 pages, you will thank yourself in the morning.
Not only does it help you to escape from reality, but it also improves your vocabulary, your memory, analytical thinking skills and concentration – why wouldn’t we want to benefit from that?
Literature and Social Media
It’s no surprise that in present times, social media has taken over how we view/experience entertainment. Today, a quick video on Instagram is a replacement for a short poem, moreover a show on Netflix can even be preferred to a book. Of course not all social media consists solely of videos and pictures, for example, you will be reading this blog piece on your phone, ipad or desktop. We should aim to be selective about how we utilise our time on our phones and the things we want to read, share and post. Ultimately, using our platforms as a way to educate ourselves and each other.
Growing up in Nepal, being respectful is ingrained upon us as an important cultural lesson. My mum always used to tell me to “never step on my books”, because you shouldn’t disrespect something that provides you with knowledge. In Nepal, stepping on things is considered an ultimate disrespect. Are we disrespecting our books by opting to spend our downtime engaged with our phones and TVs? Maybe if we perceived choosing our phones over a book as a metaphor for, “stepping on something”, we would read more novels, more poems and more literature.
A book that I am currently reading is “Dune” by Frank Herbert, which is a science fiction novel written in 1965. Although it is fiction, it touches topics such as environmental stress, human potential, altered states of consciousness and the developing countries’ revolution against imperialism. It is the perfect example of a piece of literature that helps expand your imagination as well as concerning topics that are relevant in our real life.
Education in developing countries
When I hear stories about how children living in rural villages in developing countries travel up to 5 hours on foot just to go to school, it makes me grateful for the education that I have received and how lucky we are to be able to access the facilities that we have. I admire the determination that these children have to want to learn, to increase their life opportunities and the hunger they have to want to make their lives better through education.
There are a multitude of charities dedicated to help educate children around the world and to help them reach their full potential. Here are a few foundations and charities you can read about to help:
Reading blogs like this is a start towards helping people that are less fortunate than ourselves. Sharing blogs also helps if you want to educate others through your platform.
Inspire yourself by reading a book, blog, poem or novel and escape reality for just a moment.
In honour of World Literacy Day, I wanted to highlight the importance of reading, and acknowledge the fact that many of us have been fortunate enough to have a great education in which we’ve learnt how to read and write. Unfortunately, a large proportion of the world’s population has not had this opportunity, which is why we mustn’t take reading for granted.