5 Ways Reading Improves Your Well-Being

Did you know reading 20 minutes each day can improve your mental health? Here are five ways reading can improve your well-being

1. Reading makes you a better person. Two studies found that reading makes a person more caring and empathetic towards other people.

2. Reading reduces stress. One of the pioneers of neuroscience reported that reading reduces stress levels by 68 percent and significantly lowers heart rate in as little as six minutes of reading.

3. Reading makes you a better speaker. A 2001 study confirmed that reading helps you acquire a better, enriched vocabulary.

4. Reading minimizes your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2001 study found that adults who regularly read or play mentally challenging games are much less likely to develop the crippling disease.

5. Reading keeps your brain sharp. A study in the medical journal of Neurology, says that reading is important throughout a person’s life, from childhood to old age. People who read continuously throughout their life exhibit significantly better memory and mental abilities at all stages in life.

The Hawaii State Public Library System promotes literacy and provides educational opportunity for Hawaii’s residents through their 50 branches across the state. Each summer, the Summer Reading Program takes place system-wide with reading lists and incentives for adults, teens, children, and even infants. Encouraging reading for all ages is important because we never stop learning and reading is healthy for us no matter our age. It also encourages families to read together, setting a good example for our keiki, while promoting quality time spent together as a family. In our hectic daily life, setting 20 minutes aside to explore something new, can help us to clear our minds, think critically, improve our vocabulary, and come back to reality with a fresh perspective. With schools on break, the Summer Reading Program at our public libraries help to bridge the summer education gap.

The 2016 Summer Reading Program (SRP) theme is “Health and Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Soul.” The 2016 reading list suggests many health, self-help, outdoors, fitness, cooking, and other genres that include how-to guides and stories based in those categories. You may sign-up for the programs at any time at your local library branch through July 16th. There are fantastic incentives, like a free book, for completing four weeks or more of your reading logs! Adult SRP participants are entered into a free drawing to win a $200 Hawaiian Airlines gift card. There are other free prize drawings for children and teen SRP participants too!

Friends of the Library of Hawaii (FLH) is the primary sponsor of the Summer Reading Program at Hawaii’s 50 public libraries. The state budget funds the facilities and the personnel, but does not include funding for programs. The mission of FLH is to support and promote our free public library system. We rely not only on our book sale fundraisers but also generous community and corporate support. Community partners such as HMSA help us to provide these programs across the entire library system. This year, HMSA partnered with FLH to sponsor the incentives for the teen and adult participants. Without this support, providing these programs to 30,000 Hawaii residents each year would be difficult.

It’s not just reading! There are many interactive, educational, and enjoyable programs throughout the summer that go along with the theme. Each branch hosts programs that they think will engage their local community. In addition, each year the programs start off with a celebration of reading and libraries with a kick-off event. On June 4th, at the Hawaii State Library in Honolulu, over 1,000 readers joined their librarians, friends, and special guests for a fun family event. There were special readings by Kristi Yamaguchi (Olympic figure skater), Auli‘i Cravalho (voice of Moana in the upcoming Disney animation feature), Clyde Aikau (big-wave surfer), and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige. The fun included group yoga, zumba, and much more.

Summer Reading is still happening at your local library. Take a walk or ride your bike to your local branch and exercise your reading muscles. 

Click here for more information on Friends of the Library Hawaii. 

Nainoa Mau is the Executive Director of Friends of the Library Hawaii. 

Read more about what reading can do for you and your keiki in the Spring 2017 edition of Island Scene Magazine.