The lazy days of summer are here, and many people are talking about their latest beach reads. While most people find more time to read in the summer and during vacation, I try to make time for reading throughout the year for many reasons.

1) It’s a good way to relax and escape to a new world.

With mounting anxiety about the return to school, the ongoing pandemic, economic insecurity, and social injustice, there are many current events elevating stress. Travel restrictions and quarantine rules might limit our travel, but you can go virtually anywhere in a book.

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2) Books are a great way to learn more about some of the issues we are all facing.

Concerned about racism and sexism in America? You can learn about some of the struggles faced throughout the evolution of our nation through books. From biographies about our nation’s founders to community leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Shirley Chisholm, and Frances Perkins, books provide a picture of how they shaped discussion and effected change in the community. Other books give insight into how we can all be more cognizant of biases in the world and how to overcome them.

3) Reading helps everyone reach their potential. Back in the late 1960s and in the decades since, many groups and organizations have created a lot of awareness about the need to end illiteracy. As they say, “knowledge is power.” Reading is essential to learning about new ideas and the world around you. Of course, reading is also key to education. Statistics show that students who have difficulty or cannot read to their grade level usually drop out of school, or simply cannot keep up in class.

4) Books and book clubs help connect people socially and provide great discussion. Whether you participate in person, via zoom, or on social media, book clubs enable people to interact with others who hold similar interests or live nearby. Many clubs get advance copies of books from up and coming authors and have the chance to review new releases.

5) If you have a child in your life, read to them. Research shows that “Children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week.” Is your child a little older? Then, read with them! Start a book club with your child and read what they are reading. Need books and the library isn’t available? Many towns have Little Free Libraries where books are shared.

Regardless of your age or interests, reading connects the world. Take a journey without leaving your home!