There’s a well-known reading scenario, source unknown, that has been passed around from teacher to teacher, then parent to parent, about the impact of daily reading on students and our children called, Why Can’t I Skip My Twenty Minutes of Reading Tonight?

The mysterious author suggests, “Let’s figure it out – mathematically!”

Student A reads 20 minutes a night of every week;
Student B reads only 4 minutes a night…or not at all!

Step 1: Multiply minutes a night x 5 times each week.

Student A reads 20 min. x 5 times a week = 100 min./week
Student B reads 4 minutes x 5 times a week = 20 minutes

Step 2: Multiply minutes a week x 4 weeks each month.

Student A reads 400 minutes a month.
Student B reads 80 minutes a month.

Step 3: Multiply minutes a month x 9 months/school year.

I think you get the gist of where this is going, but essentially, by the end of grade 6, if Student A and Student B maintain the same reading habits, Student A will have read the equivalent of 60 whole school days and Student B will have read the equivalent of only 12 school days.

One would expect the gap of information retained will have widened considerably and so, undoubtedly, will school performance. How do you think Student B will feel about him/herself as a student?

Some (more) questions to ponder:

Which student would you expect to read better?
Which student would you expect to know more?
Which student would you expect to write better?
Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary?
Which student would you expect to be more successful in school…and in life?

Again, I want to emphasize I did not come up with this formula, but I find it impactful and worthy of spreading. When I shared this piece with Ariel, her eyes grew wide and she started saying, “la la la” to drown out the noise of my insistence. She was making it clear she will read on her terms, and that’s fine. Maybe you feel the same way.

If that wasn’t enough to sway you to make time for book reading in your life – let’s say you think you’re off the hook because you’re an adult who already knows how to read – let me share the results of some pretty compelling new research that I came across in Emma Charlton’s piece, 5 Reasons Why Reading Books is Good for You. And she’s talking about books in the flesh, not just magazines, newspapers, ebooks, audiobooks, podcasts or other online reading (though don’t abandon these worthy pursuits!)

According to a recent Yale University study, people who read books live two years longer, on average, than those who don’t, even when controlling for gender, wealth, education and health. The researchers explained that deep reading promotes emotional intelligence and empathy – cognitive processes that can lead to a greater chance of survival.

Want to sound smarter?

In addition to improving your emotional intelligence and empathy, according to an Oxford University Press Report, not surprisingly reading books also broadens your vocabulary.

If you want to live longer and stave off brain damage, exercising your mind is a key component of mental health. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, “Keeping your mind active is likely to reduce your risk of dementia. Regularly challenging yourself mentally seems to build up the brain’s ability to cope with disease.” Regularly engaging in active reading of challenging books is listed as an excellent activity to stimulate your brain.

A clear mind, a varied tongue and a longer life – what’s not to love? We haven’t even factored in the learning and entertainment factor! Book reading is good for you and the life of a reader is a life well lived. End of story.

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