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Crow Wing Energized: Reading is important and reading for fun especially important

When reading aloud to a child, “we’re sending a pleasure message to the child’s brain.” Just like when you share a joke or a funny story about your day, sharing something you enjoy reading is engaging for both the reader and listener -- Jim Trelease, author of “The Read-Aloud Handbook.”

Did you know some of the most popular authors like John Grisham and James Patterson also write for kids and teens? Here are some more great read-aloud titles. Submitted photo

If you are reading this article, I assume you already attach importance to reading.

Simply put, reading is what makes us, and keeps us, literate. Reading is a habit, a muscle that grows with use and can improve almost every area of our lives. Functional literacy, meaning the ability to read and write simple sentences and to do basic calculations, is fundamental.

According to Literacy Minnesota, functional literacy is critical for navigating the workforce, advocating for oneself and fulfilling basic needs. In the United States, more than three million adults are at or below the third-grade level in reading and writing. We can, and must, read for information — how to bake bread, how to install vinyl plank flooring, how to social distance, what time does the grocery store open. But we can also read for fun.

And while that sounds like simply a great leisure time activity, it is also crucial to read for fun, especially if there is a young person in your life. Jim Trelease, author of “The Read-Aloud Handbook,” offers two “reading facts of life.” The first is that human beings are pleasure-centered. So in order to increase a desire to read, it must be pleasurable.

Reading fact No. 2, according to Trelease, is “reading is like riding a bicycle, driving a car, or sewing. In order to get better at it you must do it. The more you read, the better you get at it.” So Trelease advocates not only modeling reading for pleasure, but reading aloud with someone, so you both benefit.


When reading aloud to a child, Trelease says, “we’re sending a pleasure message to the child’s brain.” Just like when you share a joke or a funny story about your day, sharing something you enjoy reading is engaging for both the reader and listener.

Trelease’s book contains many, many suggestions for great read-aloud titles, some of which are pictured here.

Some titles for kids that make great read-aloud books. Submitted photo

This past winter, Library Journal published their survey results of how generations read for pleasure. The good news is 50% or more of each generation surveyed — Generation Z, millennials, Generation X, baby boomers and the silent generation — agreed with the statement “I am always on the lookout for good books to read.”

This spring gave us ample time to discover or re-discover another truth: reading is soothing. I have had many conversations with library patrons who wound up re-reading favorite books while sheltering-in-place. Re-reading a book you’ve loved can bring back a time and a place almost as strongly as the scent of apple pie baking in the oven.

Among Gen Z, 25% agreed with the statement “I don’t have time to read for pleasure” while only 4% of the silent generation agreed with that. If you are part of the silent generation (born 1925 to 1942), and even if you aren’t, I have a plea for you: introduce everyone you can to reading aloud and reading together.


You can improve your health by reading more every day: it improves mental sharpness and relieves stress. You can change the life of a child (or adult) by sharing books you love, especially by reading aloud. It keeps our brains sharp and reading together, it keeps us engaged with each other.

Community engagement is something on the minds of many of us right now. One new statewide initiative is the One Book, One Minnesota project. Think of it like a statewide book club. The current selection is “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota” edited by Sun Yung Shin from the Minnesota Historical Society Press. In it, Minnesota writers provide a range of perspectives on what it is like to live as a person of color in Minnesota. The free eBook download and details about the project are available here: https://bit.ly/2Pe8u6F .

Don’t have a library card? You can now apply for one online: https://bit.ly/3jZkQxS . Learn how to use our curbside service and make requests online: https://bit.ly/2PduKh4 .

Want to request one of the books featured here or get other book recommendations or simply have another question? Email us at brainerd@krls.org .

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