We live in a convoluted world, no doubt about it. When I was a young girl I dreamed of changing it for the better. Now, as years make me inevitably wiser, I see the need to keep that dream alive, not only for me, but for future generations. The seed I’m planting is one that grows slowly but steadily. Its roots pierce the soft flesh of tender hearts, feeding from their soul, and then blooming into a strong, healthy, creative, more-human-than-ever precious fruit: I’m writing, for children. And that’s where change begins.
Just like the song says, you may say I’m a dreamer, that’s exactly the truth—the reason why I write. But also, I see factual, concrete ways reading books can change the way we are, and consequently, our world. Here are just five:
- Books can turn us into more empathetic, compassionated human beings by allowing us to live in other people’s shoes, and see life through the eyes of others. We not only see ourselves reflected, but ‘feel’ the lives of others and how their particular background affects their decisions and choices, therefore helping us develop our emotional intelligence.
- Books open doors by showing us other cultures, places, and traditions in a more personal, connected way. Reading takes you to new places… just like traveling! The amazing part is that these places don’t have to be on Earth. Books can take us beyond the limits of what we know as real. Books can create worlds where everything is possible, strengthening our critical thinking process.
- Books help relieve stress by actively engaging the imagination and making us lose our sense of self. A good book can be an escape from routine and boredom. It’s also shown that reading relaxes muscles and slows down heart rate, making us less tense and stressed. Reading can help people who are dealing with anxiety and depression. Have you ever heard of bibliotherapy? It’s a science that ‘prescribes’ books to heal some soul and mind ailments.
- Books help us cope with our own problems, even trauma, when we read about people who have gone through the same. Books allow us to understand death, loss, and tragedy, all intrinsic to our time on Earth.
- Books make us smarter. Not only do we learn facts when we read, we travel in time and acquire knowledge and experiences that would otherwise take us years to gather. Reading a book keeps our brain active, and it’s proven reading can help delay Alzheimer’s disease. Our brains grow bigger and stronger when we read because reading is exercise for our brain. Reading improves our ability to solve problems, increases our vocabulary, and keep us inspired.
So I don’t think I need to list more reasons, let’s just do our part: buy books, give books, read books, breathe books, borrow books, live books… they can truly make a difference.
From my small corner desk, right by the kitchen, armed with my laptop and a few hand-written notes, I’m pitching in with my little grain of salt: creating books that foster family love and acceptance. I have four more books planned for 2016. For this to become a reality, your support is crucial. Thanks for taking a minute to read a gift guide of all my books to date.
Mariana Llanos writes for children and for anyone who wants to read a story with heart and imagination. She visits schools around the world to encourage children to read. www.marianallanos.com