Reading Is To the Mind What Exercise Is To the Body
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Reading Is To the Mind What Exercise Is To the Body

Reading Is To the Mind What Exercise Is To the Body

To read or not to read: there’s no question, really. How valuable is your mind?

Joseph Addison suggests, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Consider: If you can read this, you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world today, who can’t. When we talk about the need to read, the need for children to love reading, we might consider withholding breakfast, or lunch. While our stomachs suffer, so our minds atrophy when we don’t read.

Well, we wouldn’t withhold meals, but how can we get our children reading with the same regularity of eating? Make it fun! Make it inviting. Make it a special time when your full attention is on your child and the book. Act out a part. Change your voice, use an accent. Kids love this and they will remember it, always.

With older children, do they see you reading? Does your family set aside time for family reading? You eat dinner as a family, why not read a book as a family? Just as you feed the family’s body, feed its mind and soul as well.

Ah! The soul! Not only does reading feed the mind, but we free the soul when we read. The free-floating self, as Sven Birkerts calls it, mulls over words on the page, attaches emotions to the mental images we make of these words. Reading to children at an early age builds within them a way to make sense of this complex matrix called life.

Parents give children this gift in words, pictures, and with their own soothing voices. Often, children soothe their own levels of anxiety by sitting in a quiet room and turning the pages of a good book — left to their own imaginations.

Why read? In an electronic age, when almost everything seems to be for sale, reading is free. It has a value that cannot be made into a commodity, and its value exceeds a price tag. Gifts can be purchased, but the reading mind needs to be nourished, cultivated with good reading materials, encouraged to think, grow, imagine, and dream. It is a gift that keeps giving.

Finally, we might consider the sound advice of the ancient sage, Desiderius Erasmus: “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”

CREDIT: Shine

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