Reading Matters: The Power of Reading

By Shumyla Mariyam

Reading Matters: The Power of Reading

Almost 150 years ago, there were three sisters that dwelled in a world being dominated by books. From childhood, they all read voraciously and in the result, they started creating their own stories utilizing the creativity of their minds. They were the Brontë sisters, authors of the most renowned novels all over the globe such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Due to their love of books, the Brontë sisters created a whole new spectrum to the world of reading. They had no idea what transpired inside their heads as they read and imagined. Only now, modern neurosciences have discovered that effects of reading are more extraordinary than we perceive.

“Reading is to the mind that exercise is to the body.”

Reading is something that most of us tend to ignore and barely even acknowledge. We are, unfortunately, unaware that it can help unlock remarkable powers as it exercises the brain. The digital revolution has been successful in completely eliminating the beauty of books from our lives. We do not even realize that reading, which we take easily, has numerous advantages and remarkable effects on our brain.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, such activities are barely even encouraged. The children are more focused towards playing video games or watching television rather than grabbing a book for entertainment. According to a research conducted in 2014, almost 76% of American adults reading habits were recorded whereas in Pakistan the number recorded was only of about 25%. This deeply saddens me because even in our schools and universities, reading books is considered a chore rather than a fun activity.

Whatever we read is retained in our brain cells in the form of traces. Our brain is like a slate and whatever we tend to read or peruse gets transcribed there, and whenever we need to remember those things we simply recall. However, something that is read with interest is quick to be retrieved because it is well placed in our brain.

According to a new research, reading has been discovered to be the best way to relax. Reading any material for as low as six minutes has an effect on reducing the stress levels by more than two-thirds. It reduced the stress level by 68% in comparison to video games which brought them down by only 21%. Unluckily, technology has taken over the world and even in Pakistan students tend to prefer to watch movies or play video games as well surf the web to learn new things rather than reading a book. It has revolutionized and replaced the use of books completely from our lives.

To encourage reading in Pakistan, we need to create an environment where reading is appreciated. Children need to know that the adults in their lives care about reading because that is where the seed of interest in reading tends to grow. Seeing that reading is not a habit in Pakistani culture, we are too low in literacy. There are no incentives or any such parental motivation, guidance or facilitation in the buying or borrowing of books. That is why we are quite away from reading. Being a student myself I have observed that in educational institutes in Pakistan students tend to receive short notes and power point presentations to study and they are more than happy. Barely any student would actually make the effort of reading at least one textbook for a course, the majority tends to do without it and that speaks of our poor standards of education. In Scandinavian countries, reading books is a necessity and is highly encouraged in schools and colleges which have had a massive effect on their education standards compared to what we have in Pakistan.

As mentioned earlier, in Pakistan children should be given a positive reinforcement in regards to reading from parents and teachers. Forcing children to read will yield no positive results, hence it is our primary duty to create an encouraging environment in our homes and institutes with respect to books.

There is a very famous quote by a renowned author George R. R Martin:

 “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads lives only one.”

A good book literally has the power to shift or change something within you and this is exactly why we can conclude that reading matters.

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