Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Why Books are Better for Your Brain

By Saralyn Richard


Since the beginning of television, debates have been held over the benefits of reading over TV watching or vice versa. Some of the tried-and-true arguments include:

·         Reading allows you to form pictures in your brain, which involves more creativity and imagination than having them spoon-fed.

·         Reading time is all quality time, with no time wasted on commercials.

·         Books are portable and less expensive to use.

·         Books delve into thought-provoking issues more thoroughly than TV shows.

·         Reading is a quieter, more peaceful activity.

·         You can read on your own schedule.

·         You don’t have to worry about whether you subscribe to the right channel.

All great points, but here are a few more that come from educational (and brain-based) research:

·         Reading, unlike watching or listening to media, allows the brain to stop, think, process, and imagine the narrative in front of you.

·         Reading creates connections in the brain that promote language, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

·         Reading rewires the brain and creates new white matter.

·         Reading puts the reader in the shoes of the character in the book, figuratively and biologically. It creates empathy.

·         Reading increases attention spans and encourages sequential thinking.

·         Reading increases vocabulary.

·         Reading rewires your brain, so that you can imagine alternative paths, remember details, picture detailed scenes, and think through complex problems.

In short, reading makes you more knowledgeable AND more functional. In other words, if television is a bag of potato chips and a soft drink, reading is a warm and tasty meal and a delicious smoothie.

My years in education have proven to me over and over again how important it is to be a good reader. Literacy is the basis for all learning (even mathematics and music, which are other forms of reading). The more you practice reading, the better able you will be to comprehend, analyze, compare and contrast, synthesize, and evaluate. No one I know of has ever made those same claims for watching television.

I’m not advocating the abolishment of TVs or television programming. But I do recommend making reading a priority when carving out your leisure time. Whatever you choose to read, you’ll have excellent entertainment, and your brain will thank you.

Saralyn Richard’s award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children's book pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. Saralyn’s most recent release is Bad Blood Sisters. A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Her favorite thing about being an author is interacting with readers like you. Visit Saralyn here, on her Amazon page here, or on Facebook here.


  1. Great information, Saralyn!

  2. I love this, Saralyn. In a distracted world, I'm all for increasing my attention span and working on sequential thinking. Wonderful information.

  3. This is awesome. Thanks for all the great info!!

  4. It's so true. The American Pediatrics people always said no screen time before age two. It does help and it does make a difference.

    1. Thanks for reading, Anne. I'm sure it's true for adults, too.

  5. Wonderful! Certainly promotes the benefits of reading over screens.

  6. Best for quieting the mind and sparking the imagination.

    1. Agree, and a lot of minds need quieting and sparking these days, mine included.


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