02 Mar 2015

Read Across America Day, March 2nd: Back to Books in Print

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We were all raised on books. Our parents read to us, we read books throughout our school years, and many of us always had a book on hand to read during down times. Hold it in your hands, feel it, flip the pages in order, one by one. Tangible. Tactile. Sensory.  However, with digital “printing” now the prevalent form of reading, books in print are becoming a rarity. Interestingly, those who appreciate books in print more than digital formats have science to back up their appreciation.

In 2014, the British newspaper The Guardian reported on a study by Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University.  Mangen and her fellow researchers “found that readers using a Kindle were significantly worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story.” It turned out that the “tactile sense” of the chronology helps us maintain the order of events in our memories: We starting at the beginning of the tale, and literally moving through the book’s entire length, until the last page, the end of the story. By feeling the order of the story physically, we remember the order mentally.

We all grew up with the notion that we should read, read, and keep reading. Books are good. Books are essential for expanding vocabulary, knowledge, creativity, and overall mental development. According to the study above, we are warranted to be leery about switching completely over to digital reading. One reason is that we are reading too superficially – in an “F” formation – meaning we read the beginning lines, and then skim a bit of the beginning of paragraphs, while resting on the middle and end in order to get the general message. We’ve gotten used to shorter, quicker bits of information, always at our fingertips.  Therefore, the longer novel, non-fiction work, or academic research review is left for “when we have time.”

But that’s great. The “when we have time” is a perfect category for what’s now recommended: Slow reading. (It’s even gotten such momentum that it’s called the “slow reading” movement.)  The slow reading movement’s stance is that we need to take 30 minutes out per day for longer reading – away from the internet.  This lowers our stress levels, hones our focus, and expands our horizons in ways that the “F” reading on screens simply doesn’t allow for.

Today, March 2nd, is Read Across America Day, a day dedicated to encouraging (or re-encouraging) reading. At Rockaway Care Center, thankfully, reading times are plentiful, so you take advantage of books to fill your brain with welcome information, intriguing characters, and maybe even learn some new words along the way. Join the masses in reading across America.




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