Did you know neuroscientists all around the world claim that reading fiction can change the personality and improve brain function on a variety of levels? Fascinating, right?
We dug deep and found out some cool facts about the brain and what reading does to it. Here, we list down some of them.
One personality quality enhanced by fiction is empathy, which is the ability to understand someone else’s point of view. Children who read more fiction are also better at reading other people’s emotions. Reading promotes empathy when children start relating to a character in the novel. Just like reading about science or history for school boosts their knowledge in the subject, reading fiction enhances their social expertise.
Boosts Brain Power
Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it vitalised and alert. Reading keeps your child’s activity levels high and their brain power nice and strong. Keeping the mind stimulated through rigorous reading can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia in adulthood. We have a “use it or lose it” kind of brain. Information that is rarely accessed can cause a decrease in the neural pathways in a process called “synaptic pruning”.
Children explore new words as they develop the skill of reading. These words are registered in the temporal cortex, an area of the brain which is responsible for the way we learn a language. The more a child reads, the more words they are exposed to. These words inevitably make way into their everyday vocabulary. Being articulate and well-spoken also boost their self-confidence and self-esteem.
When a child reads, he is engaging more than a few cognitive processes, such as phonemic awareness, visual and auditory processes, comprehension and fluency. While reading they have to remember a diversity of characters, their backgrounds, history, nuances, as well as the sub-plots in every story. Every memory they create forges a new synapse, the connection between two neurons in the brain, and strengthens existing ones. Synapses are also responsible for short-term memory recall and also, stabilising moods. How cool is that?
Improve Focus and Concentration
In our internet-crazed world, it is easier to get drawn in a million different directions as we try to “multi-task” through the day. The same goes for our children. School projects, extra classes, and exams, can cause stress levels to rise and lower their productivity. When they read a book, all their attention is focused on the story. The rest of the world seems blurry as they begin absorbing the most minute details. This process strengthens their concentration and helps them clear their mind to focus better.
Pro tip: Instil the habit of reading a fictional novel in your child for about 15-20 minutes in the morning, before school starts. You’ll be surprised at how much more focused they become in their class. And the best part? They’ll come back home hungry for another chapter!
Strengthens Analytical Thinking Skills
Does your child love reading mystery novels and often enjoys solving the mystery even before finishing the book? If so, your child has the ability to put critical and analytical thinking to work by analysing and assimilating all the details precisely. Reading “whodunit” novels has the same effect as solving mathematical problems. Reading for leisure regularly can equip the child to critique the plot, if the characters were properly developed or if the storyline ran smoothly. Reflecting upon these also develops their analytical thinking skills. Cherry on the cake? These skills enable them to form and state their opinions clearly and form strong conviction.