By carmichaellibrary [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By carmichaellibrary, via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s face it. Resolutions are easy to make but very hard to keep. Even with the best intentions, we often fall back into our old routines after a week or two. Making the resolution to read every day, though, will have payoffs that can last a lifetime.

There have been several articles in the news over the past few weeks about the importance of reading and its many benefits.

  • A study from Emory University found that reading a novel improved brain function for up to five days.
  • Studies carried out by researchers at the New School for Social Research suggests that reading literature develops empathy and our ability to “understand the emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and intentions of others.” Scientists in the Netherlands have conducted studies that revealed similar findings.
  • Scientists in England have found that reading helps you relax. Just six minutes of reading can lower heart rate and muscle tension. Sleep experts also agree that reading should be part of a “regular de-stressing routine before bed.
  • Researchers at the Rush Medical Center in Chicago have found evidence that developing a lifetime reading habit in childhood can be “important for brain health in old age.

Taken together, these studies seem to support what teachers have know for years: reading is good for you and makes you smarter.

If your family already has a reading routine in place, that’s terrific. If reading isn’t part of your daily routine, start small. Set a goal to read ten minutes a day. Routines take time to establish, so don’t get upset if you miss a day. Just be sure to read the next day. And the next. Aristotle once said “we are what we repeatedly do.” Resolve to read every day, and soon you’ll be a reader.