“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Dead Poets Society (1989)
This is one of the most inspiring quotes from my all-time favorite movie, and recalling this takes me to the importance of reading. And by reading, I do not mean our textbooks and course books. I do not mean the books that simply make us literate, but those that educate and enlighten us. One should not read for school alone. Feeding the mind and soul is also important. I believe that having a reading habit actually makes us a better person, provides us with more insight and instills into us the human-ness that many seem to lose.
Developing a reading habit in children makes them run their imagination wild, makes them question things, and, most important, it will definitely make them happy. When children are told stories, they want to know more and more. Their curiosity is stimulated. And in this quest, they may stumble upon something worth learning. It is said that a house without books is like a body without its soul. I remember as a child; I used to get fascinated by so many books in my house, on different shelves and racks. I remember getting an urge to know all that is written inside them.
But of course, I had to begin with my own level. I used to get lost in the world of fairies, goblins, dwarfs, unicorns, chocolate houses and fruity springs, magicians and enchantments, endless mountains, and pixie dust. From Grimm’s Fairy tales to Aesop’s Fables to Panchatantra, I read them all and not once but many times as I could not get enough of them. Reading these made me want to believe in a world beyond our own. They provided one of the most exciting escapes. Then came the era of reading the Famous Five and Goosebumps series. These books are amazing, especially when you read them at a stage when we were of the same age range as the characters.
It made us want to be like them or have a life like them, made us want to believe in supernatural elements, in vampires and werewolves, and have superpowers. It made us feel validated that kids of our own age can have so much power, adventure, and autonomy. There is always something to learn from books. But more than that, I remember the excitement of buying new books, knowing new stories, meeting new characters, and exploring so many places through books. The preteens and teens are an emotional ride for everyone.
We go through a major transition period, which honestly feels never-ending. We experience so many new emotions and passions. Again a wide range of books was there by my side. From Khalid Hosseini to Daniel Steel to Nicholas Sparks and so many more, reading them almost had a cathartic effect. The words written and what the characters would be feeling would, at times, resonate with what I would feel. It would give me a sense of calmness as well as a sense of overwhelming emotion.
Having such a close association with books and reading since childhood, I can surely say that this habit has made my personality grow and develop. The benefits of reading culture are numerous. It is an empowering hobby that does not only entertain you, but there is always something to gain, something to learn. Reading increases your vocabulary. The more you read, the wider your range of speech.
This, in turn, helps with your communication skills as you are able to express yourself better. Apart from this, it is a knowledge bank like no other. Books can make us experience so many places through their pages; we come to know about so many different cultures, different personality types, and different eras, and how different societies functioned. Your analytical skills, your critical thinking abilities, and how you perceive yourself and others also improve. You will approach life and everything you are surrounded by in a different light.
Many people stereotype those who read a lot as nerds or introverts. But I think it is the opposite. Reading does not only improve the functioning of the brain but also increases one’s emotional intelligence. It makes a person more empathetic, more considerate, more forgiving and nurturing, and kind. When you feel things more closely and understand things more clearly, you are able to gain more confidence, which gives you interesting discussion topics making you feel self-assured. Be it fiction or non-fiction, when you immerse yourself in someone else’s story and understand it, it inspires you and encourages you.
Reading also stimulates your mind to nurture and boost your creativity. A well-written book can do wonders for you. It actually makes you a happier person. The joy of reading is immense. It engages your senses and enthralls your mind. Many studies have shown that those who have a habit of reading books are less stressed and less depressed and have developed higher self-esteem and coping abilities. It develops a person’s mental health. They have better friendships and relationships, as they can comprehend people better. Readers are an asset to society.
Their understanding of their own society, as well as a strong awareness of social issues and cultural diversity, is also higher. I think the habit of reading books, loving books, and enjoying them is one of the best things that I possess. The way they can make me imagine an entirely different world, what goes on in someone else’s mind. Words truly can do wonders, and they really do have the ability to change the world. There are numerous books and stories, and written accounts that actually prove that the pen is mightier than the sword. Books have the power to change a person’s personality, and they have proven to be a person’s best friend and a wonderful companion.
Kashmiri, Feminist, Passionate Writer, Avid Reader. I Write for a Heart… from a Heart.