books in window ledge with sun coming on them, nets and plants by florencia-viadana

Why we should all celebrate books

I love books. I’ve always been a bookworm, but I despair at my son who’s never been that keen.  Or at least, not keen on reading for himself for pleasure. There are so many benefits to books – they bring so much pleasure, exploration and enjoyment for so many people. I think we should celebrate books more often.

Facts about reading and literacy

While there are so many advantages of books and reading, unfortunately not everyone can read. Although the literacy rate (the ability to read and write) has increased over the years.  In 1820 only 12% could read and write. Nowadays only 14% are unable to do so (Source).  Generally it’s poorer countries and populations within countries that are illiterate. 

In the US approximately 32 million adults can’t read, according to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy. In the UK 7.1m adults have very poor literacy skills..

why we should celebrate books

The Annual Literacy Survey in 2021 covering over 34,000 children and young people in the UK suggested that 6% don’t have a single book at home. If you own a book you’re more likely to enjoy reading and obviously more likely to read in your spare time.  

A study of over 160,000 adults between 2011-2015 found that having more than 80 books (up to 350) at home increased the levels of literacy, numeracy and IT communication technology (ICT) skills. The US average is 114, but Scandinavians have the highest averages with 13-14% in Swedes and Norwegians having more than 500 (Source) Children living in households with lots of books also positively impacts their educational and ICT skills when older.

Hopefully the numbers of those able to read will continue to increase as they have over the years..

But why are books so amazing? (and within that I include fiction and non fiction). Here’s some of the reasons why we should celebrate books, and their benefits.

Why we should celebrate books

There’s so much choice.

Whatever your preference for topic, theme or author, there’s a book to suit. 

They’re relatively easy to access.

Books can be bought cheaply – charity shops and car boot sales always have plenty on offer.  While libraries enable people to borrow numerous books for free.  There are also other places to look out for books from community hubs and phone box libraries, to book swaps.

They help increase vocabulary.

Think how language has changed over the years. From Chaucer and Shakespeare creating new words to modern day slang and text speak. Each year new words make it into the dictionary, and books open up people’s minds to new language and words.

Helps us articulate better what we want to say.

More vocabulary and better understanding helps improve our speech in variety and use of better language.

They help improve our writing skills.

We learn from other writing, different types of text, different language and formation of words and sentences.  As a child at school in the 80s and 90s, I didn’t learn grammar at school like they do today. But I read all the time, so learnt my writing skills through my reading.

They can keep your mind sharp.

Reading about facts, figures and trivia will keep your mind sharp, but all books keep the brain thinking and being challenged. Studies have shown that reading is able to leave physical changes to the brain days after a person reads a book. Subjects showed heightened brain ability even when they weren’t actively reading. 

They’re a form of escapism.

Books are an escape from everyday life. They open our eyes to other worlds and beings. Stories of living that we would never be a part of in real life

They lead us to adventures

They may encourage you to try new things and visit new places.

They’re full of education

Books are about education.  They provide a breadth of learning from different voice and opinions, and bring depth of knowledge from reading more about a topic.

They don’t just educate on the topic you’re reading about. If you read a lot it will help with other subjects. It peaks your interest in learning about other things. If you want to know about something you can find out through reading about it, researching. But reading is also crucial in most school subjects especially if you want to take it further than a basic education.

People gain a lot of pleasure from books

Books are enjoyable. The act of reading, of choosing a book, of reading, and satisfaction with the ending.

Find out about books and films inspired by Jane Austen novels

They drive imagination.

Stories can create a picture in your head of characters and places.  How often have you watched a film and been disappointed in the characters because you’ve read the book first so have an idea of the characters (Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher!).  It develops you imagination in different ways.

They can inspire and provide a world of opportunity

Eyes are opened to what else is out there. Whether it’s careers, people or places to visit. I remember asking my mum to take us to visit the Rollright Stones after I read Whispering Knights by Penelope Lively, and to see the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens after reading a book that mentioned it. 

books in window ledge with sun coming on them, nets and plants by florencia-viadana
Photo: Florencia Viadana via Unsplash

They can change your life

Generally for better.  Whether it’s a political viewpoint, cultural understanding, an emotional passage or self help book, books will help you understand more about other people and the world.  They can strengthen your beliefs and conviction if you agree with the view, or broaden our perspectives if it’s the opposite to our views.

They can guide us

If we’re confused or searching for some meaning in life, they can provide us options and a route towards the end goal.

They can explain life

How life came about, how it’s changed, and maybe how things may look in the future. Books can explain things happening to us and around us.

Can help us open up, understand ourselves.

Our minds open when reading,giving us new and other things to think about, perspectives from people different to us.

They challenge and answer questions

Books can stimulate our thoughts. It makes use challenge what we thought we knew and liked, but can also answer questions we have.

Books can be a record of time and history. 

Personal stories, narrated, or just based in reality with a fictional layer on top. Without them we would know less.  

Are you a book lover? What’s your favourite reason to celebrate books?

Linking up with Pocolo

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  1. So many great reasons – they provide a great escape, and that’s probably my favourite reason, though I don’t read as much as I want to! Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

    1. I think that’s probably why most people read. All the different places books can transport you to, as well as you being able to see the book your way

  2. Yes to all of these. I’ve been a reader and book lover since I was a kid; I wouldn’t be doing what I do if it wasn’t for books. They are the greatest lifeline x

  3. At the school I work at they have a Drop Everything and Read for 15 mins per day. I grabbed Jane Eyre from the English block and read it every day, not a book I would have chosen normally, just grabbed the nearest one to me. Thank you for joining in with #pocolo

    1. That’s a nice idea. I should try that at home with N. I’ve not read Jane Eyre either. Not really a big classics fan apart from the occasional one.

  4. I’m most definitely a book lover, both fiction and non fiction. I love to see my children pick up a book although these days they are most likely to get their ‘fix’ from online content. I spent a lot of time reading to them when they were little and I know they can all read well, so maybe they will start reading books again when they get older.

    1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. N likes me reading to him still (he’s lazy), but despite him not really reading much, his reading is fine, but he prefers getting his information from something like Youtube. I think sometimes it’s hard for children or teens to find the right material for them. I know N struggles as so much of it is fantasy, magic, whereas he likes more realistic life stories.

  5. Emma, this is such a brilliant post! I have been a bookworm my entire life. I definitely credit my writing skills and my vocabulary to this lifelong fondness. I also get very frustrated that my children have not developed the same love of reading. But I read so much to them when they were babies (and it was mostly psychology text books…killing two birds with one stone, so to speak) that they have vocabularies far beyond their years. But yet, they hate to read for pleasure.

    I really enjoyed reading all of the statistics in this post, too. I also hope that our literacy rates continue to grow. We have made great strides so far!


    1. Thanks Shelbee. Glad it’s not just me who feels sad that our children haven’t followed our love of reading. Mine still likes me to read to him (if he’s got the right book), but he just prefers to learn from watching or listening. Similarly, I’ve always read to him – I blame it on his dad, who’s never read to him. There’s research that says boys need their dads to read to them, otherwise there’s a higher chance of them falling behind.
      Fingers crossed they find books when they’re older!

  6. I am not a big reader of books but my girls are and that makes me happy. Reading this list makes me thinks I should start reading books again x

    1. It’s finding the books we enjoy. I have a Kindle and books can be so cheap on there – cheaper than some charity shops – they’re easy to get hold of

  7. Books have been such a large part of my life since early childhood. You’ve listed so many valid reasons why books are to be treasured, preserved, and shared.

    1. It’s so important to have them in children’s lives isn’t it. My son isn’t a big fan of reading, but he still enjoys books – mainly looking at them in shops, rather than actually reading them once he’s got them!

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