On Reading

The first word ever which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the cave of Hira, that beautiful and peaceful night in Ramadan, during the Night of Power over 1439 years ago, was ‘Read’.

And I thought it would be a fabulous topic to write about.

As you can see in the above picture, to read reduces stress to magnificent levels. A lot of people choose to read the holy quran daily and this is said to bring peace to the heart and soul of a person.  This is especially apparent in the numerous beautiful renditions we now have at our fingertips via the World Wide Web.

I remember when I was younger I would read to learn new things, to escape, to be entertained, to alleviate boredom, to enter a new world and now I also read in order to learn a new craft, that of writing. Reading physical books is something we do a lot less of now that we have the digital world to access books and blogs etc. However, it is a great thing that apps like Kindle and stores like Amazon make the process of reading new books a whole lot easier.  Having the digital world at our fingertips also makes the prospect of reading new books a lot easier.  Indeed, not that long ago, something like that would take time and commitment.  People would have to make a trip into town to get to a larger bookstore to access the latest books. Now, we can have them on our devices in a matter of seconds.  A person can publish a book via Kindle Direct Publishing within a few hours.  It really is mind-blowing what can be achieved.

The positive impacts of reading are high:

  • Reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.  I remember studying this in Economics class at university and was astounded at the huge impact socio-economic background made to achievement.  It was so disheartening that a lot of children began their school life with a disadvantage like this.  To say that reading fills this gap of attainment due to differing backgrounds is huge!
  • There is a difference in reading performance equivalent to just over a year’s schooling between young people who never read for enjoyment and those who read for up to 30 minutes per day.
  • Children who engage with reading and writing are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing, a report by The National Literacy Trust, @Literacy_Trust, found (Source @tes)
  • Adults with lower levels of literacy are more likely to experience poor health and to believe that they have little impact on political processes, and are less likely to participate in volunteer activities.
  • Literacy has been found to have a relationship with depression: 36% of those with low literacy were found to have depressive symptoms, compared to 20% of those with the highest levels of literacy.
  • Studies have shown that those who read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations. Reading for pleasure is also associated with better sleeping patterns.
  • An online poll of over four thousand people from a representative sample in the UK revealed that regular readers for pleasure reported fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers, and stronger feelings of relaxation from reading than from watching television or engaging with technology intensive activities.
  • Studies have found that reading for pleasure enhances empathy, understanding of the self, and the ability to understand one’s own and others’ identities.  For example, reading Harry Potter has been shown to improve children’s attitudes toward stigmatized groups such as immigrants and refugees amongst others.
  • Participation in shared reading groups is linked to enhanced relaxation, calmness, concentration, quality of life, confidence and self-esteem, as well as feelings of shared community and common purpose.
  • Children with reading difficulties are at greater risk of developing mental health problems later in life, including depression, anxiety, behavioural problems, anger and aggression.

These fabulous advantages of reading are taken from this website.

A lot of the affects of reading occur for those reading for pleasure.  As parents, we must do all we can do open the doors of opportunity for our children so that they experience the pleasures of reading early on, so that they choose it for themselves as they’re growing up.

Things like frequent trips to the library, seeing their own parents read for pleasure, enhancing reading experiences by reading aloud to the children and listening to audiobooks together are all great ways to bring reading into your children’s daily life. There is a great book that I would recommend called ‘The Read-Aloud Handbook’ by Jim Trelease. It is now in it’s seventh edition and has sold over a million copies worldwide.  Not only does he have a list (with a synopsis per book) of age appropriate great reads for children but throughout the first half he discusses the importance and advantages of adults reading aloud to children.   He emphasises that children do not only learn from this at a young age, when they can’t read themselves, but also when they are older and going through changes in life.  Reading books together can form a platform of discussion of which to improve communication, discuss situations that can occur in society in a safe environment. Things like friendships, peer pressure, death, illnesses and even prejudism are all topics that can be covered during family discussions after reading appropriate books together.

In my experience, I love the idea of this but haven’t been able to read aloud together with the children as much as I would have liked.  Over they years we have read many Roald Dahl books together.  Humour is especially important in getting children involved.  Also a book we’ve read together recently is a book called ‘Wonder’. This is a fantastic book by Life seems to get in the way a lot.  We have used audiobooks and especially the audible app to get brilliant books read aloud to the children consistently. I read recently that if one wants to obtain a PhD in English, let them listen to audio stories for 3 years! Enough said.

So tell me, how do you get reading into your children’s lives? Do you find time to read? Does it work as a stress buster? Do let me know what you think!

So that’s it from me for now,

Until next time,

Peace and Love,

Sidra Ansari

PS To help me on my journey to enoughism I will write down 3 things I am grateful for at the end of each post. Today I will quote a message that is going round at the moment…I am grateful for all these things!

I wonder…

If Cleopatra visited Swarovski Jewelry store or Claire’s, I wonder how she would feel about her jewelry?

If Kisra, the ruler of Persia spent the night sleeping in YOUR bed, what would he think of his own royal bed?

Would Caesar be proud of his luxurious life; reclining on a couch and fanned by slave girls if he knew that my living room has a more comfortable reclining chair and an A/C unit that can make it feel like an igloo even in a Texan summer?

Would Qaroon strut arrogantly about the keys to his wealth that needed strong men to carry, if he knew that the keys to my wealth are carried in plastic cards in my wallet.

In the land of Mesopotamia so mesmerized by their chariots, what would they think if they saw a Toyota Corolla?

If the people of Baghdad and Cordoba, who used to pride themselves at the vastness of the collection of their libraries, saw the amount of books that can be carried by a college student on their USB drive, how would they feel?

If the kings who used to pride themselves on the quickness of their messengers and carriers were introduced to email, text messages and whatsapp, what would they think of how we were living?

If Al-Nu’man, the king of Arabia, who used to drink cold water kept in a special made skin container and the people used to envy him for that, how would they feel if they saw the water fountain in our masjid?

If the ‘Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansour who used to have his slaves mix hot water with cold water to create a unique bath for himself and his people used to imagine what that was like, what he would think of trying out my jacuzzi?

If the people who used to dream about items and search for them all their lives knew that we simply search and purchase them on amazon.com?

If the people who used to travel for months and maybe years to reach their destinations knew that it takes us only a few hours on planes, trains, cars or motorbikes!

My brothers and sisters, we live today better than many of the kings and royals of the past, but we can’t see it! We only have eyes for what others have, remember every time your eyes wander wide, your heart constricts!

“And do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to [some] categories of them, [its being but] the splendor of worldly life by which We test them. And the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring.” (Taha v. 131)

Do not focus on what you DON’T have. Focus on what you DO have!

Comprehend the following statement with your heart and memorize it on your tongue:

When you are grateful to Allah and do what He asks of you, He will give you much more than what you ask of Him.

Since you’re here I have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the the7ofus.blog than ever but advertising revenues are non-existent. And unlike many lifestyle magazines, I haven’t put up a paywall – I want to keep my writing as open as I can. So you can see why I need to ask for your help. These posts take a lot of time and hard work to produce. It would be amazing if you could help fund me by donating a coffee a two to keep me going! Please press here to give.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s