Stuck at Home? Try Reading! - Renaissance Australia
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Stuck at Home? Try Reading!

By: Zora Zaric

There is no denying it, reading is good for you. In fact, haven’t you heard? Reading is great for you! Teachers, librarians, researchers and educational experts have long since lauded the benefits of reading and in a time where we all need a little escape, books are here for us.

Just because we’re all stuck at home, certainly doesn’t have to stop us from engaging in reading and learning. The physical, emotional and mental benefits of reading are undeniable. When we pick up a book, our brain is instantly stimulated. Texts and images combine to form meaning and our nerve endings are firing as we discover engaging characters, whimsical worlds and interesting facts that we never knew about.

With current restrictions about where we can go and what we can do, we can be a little more creative with our reading, our text selection and where we find these books! Read on to discover some of the benefits of reading and some ideas on where you might find some gems today.

We all know that reading is a fundamental skill. We spend our foundational years learning letters, blending them in different phonic sounds, building words, then sentences until we get to paragraphs.  The paragraphs then become pages and eventually entire books – but this entire process has a whole other set of benefits. Did you know that reading improves all this other stuff too?

  • Vocabulary – the more texts we are exposed to, the more words we are exposed to. If this process is repeated regularly, it’s inevitable that these words will find their way into our vocabulary. A 2019 study found that students who are read to at home enter kindergarten with over a million more words in their vocabulary than their counterparts. [1]
  • Cognitive Stimulation – reading helps keep the brain active, and let’s be honest there’s only so many puzzles we can do. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise and reading is a fantastic way to stretch those neurons.
  • Knowledge Acquisition – Dr Seuss wasn’t lying when he said “the more you read, the more you know…” Everything we read finds its way into our brains, and you never know when this might come in handy! This knowledge ties in with the idea of vocabulary, the knowledge we have on any topic is based on the vocabulary of that information [2] and how do we get that vocabulary? Read!
  • Stress Reduction – there’s a lot going on at the moment, adults and children alike are being bombarded with news updates from all angles and this is bound to have an impact on our mental health. Books can let us get away from all this for a bit, so put down the phone, switch off the TV and open a book!

So, now you’re thinking… Where can I get a book right now? Here’s a few places to try:

  • Look Around the House – don’t underestimate the power of a good, old favourite. My copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was read by myself, two younger sisters, my mum and a neighbour before the front cover fell off and it was spotted with cordial stains. It’s still a fantastic read and to this day, I still use the copy in my professional development sessions.
    There’s bound to be some books lying around your house, or your friend’s house – don’t be scared to re-read! You might find something new you never noticed before or if your children are older, you might be interested to see how their attitude has changed to certain books or ideas as they mature! Magazines, newspapers of Nan’s collection of the World Book series are a great place for non-fiction information too.
  • Contact your Local Library – with many public libraries closing for health and safety reasons, many are offering digital downloads. Every library will be different so contact yours or visit their website to see if they can provide you with some eBooks.
  • Get in touch with your School – schools may be closed at times, but teachers and librarians are still working hard to support their students’ reading and learning! Teachers may provide extra home readers, libraries may give students the chance to borrow extra books for a period of time, offer limited open hours or even a Click and Collect type set up if you can check out the school catalogue online. See if your school is offering any of these possibilities.
  • readON with myON – Renaissance is offering free access to over 6,000 books with our digital reading platform, myON. Details can be found here – https://www.renaissance.com.au/myon-home/ and with books for beginning readers, right through to older students and independent readers, there’s something on there for everyone!

Now that you’ve finished this article and you’re convinced that there are absolutely no downsides to reading, off you go and find something to read! As author Jhumpa Lahiri said “That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

  • Look Around the House – don’t underestimate the power of a good, old favourite. My copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was read by myself, two younger sisters, my mum and a neighbour before the front cover fell off and it was spotted with cordial stains. It’s still a fantastic read and to this day, I still use the copy in my professional development sessions.
    There’s bound to be some books lying around your house, or your friend’s house – don’t be scared to re-read! You might find something new you never noticed before or if your children are older, you might be interested to see how their attitude has changed to certain books or ideas as they mature! Magazines, newspapers of Nan’s collection of the World Book series are a great place for non-fiction information too.
  • Contact your Local Library – with many public libraries closing for health and safety reasons, many are offering digital downloads. Every library will be different so contact yours or visit their website to see if they can provide you with some eBooks.
  • Get in touch with your School – schools may be closed at times, but teachers and librarians are still working hard to support their students’ reading and learning! Teachers may provide extra home readers, libraries may give students the chance to borrow extra books for a period of time, offer limited open hours or even a Click and Collect type set up if you can check out the school catalogue online. See if your school is offering any of these possibilities.
  • readON with myON – Renaissance is offering free access to over 6,000 books with our digital reading platform, myON. Details can be found here – https://www.renaissance.com.au/myon-home/ and with books for beginning readers, right through to older students and independent readers, there’s something on there for everyone!

Now that you’ve finished this article and you’re convinced that there are absolutely no downsides to reading, off you go and find something to read! As author Jhumpa Lahiri said “That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

[1] Logan, Jessica A. R. PhD; Justice, Laura M. PhD; Yumuş, Melike PhD; Chaparro-Moreno, Leydi Johana. When Children Are Not Read to at Home: The Million Word Gap, Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: June 2019

[2] Marzano, Robert & Pickering, Debra. (2005). Building Academic Vocabulary: Teacher’s Manual. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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