Arm yourself this summer with the gift of literacy

Published Jun 8, 2018 at 4:00pm

By now, with temperatures hovering far enough above freezing our thoughts have turned to summer and summer vacation.

While camping in the great outdoors, trips to a sun-soaked beach or soujourn to a southern historic hotspot are all worthwhile diversions, there is another diversion, perhaps even more worthwhile, that can not just help pass some time enjoyably but
provide a lifetime of benefit — reading.

Educators can cite hundreds of
studies that demonstrate the very real ‘brain drain’ that befalls students of all ages over the summer. Months without significant intellectual stimulation can not just stymie the learning process of young minds but can actually lead to educational regression — with students losing some hard-acquired skills and learning from the previous school year.

Likewise, high schoolers intent on scoring big on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) will find that educational experts almost universally agree that among the best strategies for improving scores on the tests’ verbal and writing sections are to read. Reading more and varying the genres improve a host of critical skills that can pay big dividends for future test-takers.

For the rest of us, reading is essential. Whether informative or entertaining, reading is the first step toward arming oneself with the skills needed to fend off useless rhetoric, honing our ability to cut through false narratives and to get a better, and clearer, sense of the world around us.

Just as an athlete may lift weights to improve strength and conditioning, so too is reading weightlifting for the brain.

So, whether you are headed to the wilderness or the beach, bring along a good book — and best of all, if you dust off your library card and head over to Jervis Public Library or your town or village library, you’ll the diversion will be free — and the benefits may be priceless.