Read Like Your Life Depends on It.


Randy Bertok, Educator

I am not asking. I am not suggesting. I am imploring each of you to read because your life does, in fact, depend on it. The amount of reading one does by the time they are 18 years old directly affects the amount of money one earns, the career options one has, and the quality of life one enjoys over the course of their lifetime. To understand any subject, we must first read to acquire knowledge and then continue reading to develop expertise. This is true in math, science, language, engineering, music, and anything else you can imagine from video games to business to fashion. Go to any bookstore and one can find tome after tome on virtually any topic imaginable. Why? Because books teach us new things and teach us how to do old things better. You want to read to pass time? Grab a book. You want to learn how to better hit a baseball? Get a book. You want to learn how to disassemble and rebuild a motor? Books. Cook better? Books. Design clothing? Books. Teach a child their “A-B-Cs” and “1-2-3s”? Books. Yet, how often do we see people- children and adults alike- have the same infatuation with books as they do with social media, video games, fashion, gossip, etc.? Not often at all. Reading is the most critical skill a person develops. The. Most. Critical. Reading is even critical for your health.

Each time we read new information, review old information, or use our imagination to visualize the words we read new neurological pathways are built within our brain. These pathways are called axons. Axons connect our neurons to each other. Think of neurons are storage containers for information. When we read, an elaborate freeway system of information and highways is built with our head, literally. The more axons your brain builds, the more information you process, store, and remember. When those axons do not get used, they deteriorate just like our own highways and streets. When the very last axon that is attached to a neuron breaks, that information is lost for good. The more you read, the more cognitive function you retain as you age. Reading can even lessen and prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. No, really.

Reading does not just create a healthier, more active brain; it has other health benefits as well. Reading reduces stress, lowers your heart rate, reduces your blood pressure, counteracts depression, and regulates your sleep routine. Why? Think of reading as nutrients for your brain. Feed your brain and everything your brain controls (which is, like, everything) functions better. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

In closing, please read. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Nurture that passion for reading until it turns into something fantastic, until reading becomes a compulsion because the more you read now, the bigger the payout as you get older. Please, visit your library- endless knowledge awaits you. You know, the one place that I will never complain about having to stand in line is at a bookstore because that means people are actually reading.