Lewis Carroll is a household name, famous for his children’s novels. Most famously, Alice in Wonderland is a hallmark of many people’s childhood, a nostalgic momentum to our pasts. You can name him to almost anyone and most people will recognise him.
If you read as a child, it’s likely you still read now, as an adult. A YouGov survey showed that 12 million adults in the UK read for pleasure and they do so for a variety of reasons.
Reading allows us to escape the drudgery of our everyday lives, explore a world of imagination, fantasy and fun, and live lives that are outside our own. In the words of George R.R. Martin, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”
For some, the pleasure of reading was discovered later in life. Maybe as a result of reading for school, or from stumbling upon a book that captured them in a way none other had. But for a lot of people, reading began in childhood. The likes of Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter were our companions in the days where we took our first steps, eventually being replaced with JRR Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and many others that will walk by our side throughout our lives.
Reading in childhood has proven over and over to be beneficial to the reader throughout their lives.
For starters, reading opens our imaginations. Children have huge imaginations as it is, but reading opens them to even more possibilities. Having to create images from words, explore worlds not seen in our own, how can a child not use their imagination? Imagination in itself leads the way to creativity, teaching children how to think outside the box, create new ideas and even make innovative works in the future.
Learning is a huge part of reading, whether we acknowledge it or not, and even more so in childhood. From books, children (and adults!) can expand their vocabulary in a fun way. They say to be a great writer, you need to be a great reader and there’s a reason for that: reading teaches writing skills, analytical thinking skills and improves concentration, all of which are pretty vital for any type of writing.
Finally, although not the last benefit of reading by far, stories allow kids to develop understanding, of the world and themselves. As they age, book topics focus more on real life issues, things that they’ll encounter through themselves or others. The YA genre is packed full of novels discussing matters such as prejudice, LGBT and even death, all aspects of life that they’ll inevitably come into contact with. Seeing the world from different perspectives, being prepared to tackle serious issues, allows a deeper understanding to form; it can make someone more empathetic and accepting of others.
Reading benefits everyone in the same way, but it goes that step further in helping children grow and form into empathetic and creative adults. It’s as important in childhood as it is in adulthood for all the same reasons.
It’s never too late to learn, grow and see the world in different ways. Expanding our minds is never-ending and reading just makes it more fun.
Besides, there’s no better stress reliever than curling up in the corner with a good book, immersed in the words on the page. That goes for children and adults!