Reading should be an absolutely essential requirement in your life.
It should be part of your daily routine — the same as eating and sleeping.
But so many people say they have no time for reading. Their lives are too busy, they have too much to do.
It is the same as saying you don’t have time to breathe.
Just by making time for reading, you will make huge gains in all of your English skills — plus you will receive a lot of psychological benefits. Read a little every day and watch as your skills of not only reading improve but writing, grammar, speaking. And your range of vocabulary will explode.
No one ever said reading is bad for you.
It is not even good for you — it is great.
I want to show you all the benefits you can gain, what you need to do to build a regular reading habit and then show you how to do it.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
The Benefits of Reading Every Day
In short, these are the benefits you will gain:
- Better reading skills
- Better writing skills
- A broader range of vocabulary
- Improved speaking skills
- A reduction in mental health issues like depression and anxiety
- An increase in focus, attention and concentration
That is quite an impressive list.
And all you have to do is sit down with a book and read.
Let’s take a look in more detail…
Better Reading Skills
Well, I think this is common sense. You want to improve your reading skills, guess which one thing you need to do? Yes — reading.
It would be like if I asked someone how to get good at doing pull-ups.
The answer I would receive loud and clear would be: DO PULL-UPS!
This is an easy decision.
Better Writing Skills
And if you read every day, you will get better at writing.
You will learn sentence structure and form.
Why? Because every day you are reading and examining the written of others. Your mind learns to make critical assessments of the written compositions of writers and authors, and you soon find that this informs your own writing.
All the great writers say this too.
A Broader Range of Vocabulary
As you read, you will find new English words. You write them down in your notebook, and over time they will stick in your memory.
The same words, phrases and uses of words in certain sentences will come up again and again. Simply by reading, it will all stay in your memory and your use of vocabulary will explode.
This will reflect in your writing and speaking.
Another thing you will do by reading is to read English words in context.
You read words used in a certain way, that may be only suitable for a special context. Your vocabulary will not only get broader — but more refined.
Over time, you will know which word to use over another in any kind of circumstance.
Improved Speaking Skills
And as your range of vocabulary becomes more developed and more sophisticated, so will your ability to express yourself in your spoken English.
Not just that, but you will have a broader world view because you read every day.
You will express your thoughts and opinions with greater clarity and purpose.
Of all the students I had over the years, the ones that could express themselves with eloquence were the ones that liked to read.
A Reduction in Mental Health Issues like Depression and Anxiety
The science says it all — reading relieves conditions like depression and anxiety. And it makes you feel happier and more connected in the world.
And who would not want that?
An Increase in Focus, Attention and Concentration
And the act of sitting down and concentrating on the written words in front of you makes your skills of focus, attention and concentration more refined.
Not you have superhuman concentration skills!
What to Do
And how to do it.
So now you know what all the bonuses are to a daily reading habit — what do you have to do to build one? And how to do you do it?
Get Rid of the ESL Books!
One of the first things I want to tell you is to lose all the ESL books.
I wrote about this before – check here.
Yes, they may provide some small value in learning English — but for reading English they are next to useless.
The reason for this is that they do not write the articles with native English readers in mind, they write them for students of English and ESL students.
This is no good for you!
You need reading material that native English speakers like to read. They don’t read ESL books, so why should you?
There are plenty of other much more meaningful choices out there.
Don’t Set your Reading Goals too High
It is no use trying to read all The Guardian in one day.
No one does that anyway.
Just read one article — find one article that takes your interest and read that.
That is enough.
Don’t make big demands of yourself. When you start reading every day, just read a small amount — but do it every day.
The daily practice is all that is required. Over time, you will find that you will read more and more each day.
Read at Your Speed
It is not a race. There are no medals for coming first.
So read at your own speed.
If you take fifteen minutes to read five pages — then so be it.
As I have said before, the more you build a daily habit of reading, the better you will become at reading. You will read faster, you will gain more concentration on what you are reading and all of your reading skills will improve.
With speaking and listening, you must concentrate and try to speak and listen at the required speed of the other people speaking. This is not the case with reading.
Read slowly — it doesn’t matter what speed you read at.
Read Whatever You Want
You can read whatever you want to read. More importantly, you should read whatever you want.
If you read articles and books that you want to read, your English reading skills will develop at a rapid rate.
And we live in a time when there is so much to read out there that you are spoiled for choice.
You could be into the most obscure topics and novels, but you could still find material to read — and plenty of it.
Make a List of Vocabulary in Your Notebook
You do have a vocabulary notebook, right?
Because if you don’t — you really should have one.
Just take any cheap notebook and write all the new words that you find when reading. Then look in the dictionary, and write the meaning of the words.
As a great extra, you can write a sentence of your own using the new word.
It should look something like this:
Florist — a person or a shop that sells flowers
I went to the florist to buy flowers for my wife on her birthday.
Read Every Day
If you want to maintain a regular reading habit, you need to read every day.
It is the only way to do it. Start small and see how things go.
If you keep to this habit every day, you will soon read for much longer — or read more pages — after a few weeks.
Set a Time Limit
You could start by just reading for 15 minutes every day.
Or Set a Page Limit
Or set a page limit — for example, two pages a day.
Don’t Forget Your Essentials
Whenever you sit down to read, make sure you have all your essential items next to you.
- Vocabulary notebook
- Water/tea/something to drink
Always Carry a Book with You
The great thing about reading is that you can read anywhere. You could be on the subway, the bus, the train. Or in a coffee shop, the mall, the school canteen.
You can read anywhere you choose to be.
Plus, you no longer have to cart around a big pile of books with you. You can use a Kindle or your smartphone and read e-books.
This allows you to read several books at the same time.
Make a List of Books to Read
To keep track of what you want to read — your book wish list — you should make a list of all the books.
You can do this by simply writing them all down with pen and paper. Or using an excel spreadsheet.
But I think one of the best ways today is to use GoodReads and build your list online.
This helps you to monitor what you would like to read next.
Remove All Distractions
You can’t read with the TV on. Neither can you read while tapping on your phone catching up with your social media.
Like I said before, one of the benefits of reading is an improvement in your concentration skills. But you need to concentrate on what you are reading to see an improvement!
Turn off the TV, turn off all social media, turn off all outside distractions — and just read.
You will adjust to it and soon you will find that you only want to read and cut off all the noise.
Distraction will only derail your reading habit. Shut them all off so you can concentrate.
Find Somewhere Quiet to Read
And if you want to concentrate on what you are reading, you need to be somewhere quiet to read.
There are plenty of places to choose from. If you have a room in your house to go to that is quiet — then go there to read.
But not everyone is lucky enough to have a quiet place to read.
In that case, you can choose:
That is what the library is for! And you have one in your town very near to you so use it. It is quiet, and you are with a few other people who are all reading. What better place to choose?
A Book Store
Some book stores are huge and have seating. They want to encourage an atmosphere of reading. Some smaller places might allow you to stay there and read.
It might be a little rude to take a book off the shelf and start reading it, so take your own. But if you find the right book store, this could be a great choice too.
A Quiet Cafe
And by this, I don’t mean one of the large coffee chains. Most towns and cities have a quiet cafe. A special place great for reading. Plus, you can get something nice to drink.
Universities and colleges have many quiet places. Look around and find somewhere. You could be with other students who all want to be somewhere quiet to study.
A Quiet Bar
If you are old enough…
Quiet bars can be easy to find, and a great place to read and have a beer or a glass of wine.
Museums are naturally quiet places. Go to a huge gallery space surrounded by paintings and read.
On The Train
Trains can be noisy — there can be inconsiderate people who bring out their iPads and play games at full volume.
But there are also one or two carriages that can be quiet.
Got a long train journey? Best time to read.
As long as you avoid the places where people are playing a game of badminton. If it is a nice sunny day, the park can be a great choice.
Cut Out the Books You Don’t Like
I mentioned this earlier — only read what you want to read.
And if you find you are not enjoying a book you are reading, just stop reading it.
I usually give a book to the fifty-page mark — if I am not into it by then, I stop reading it. I don’t force myself.
Unless the book is required reading for school or college, don’t bother reading books you don’t like.
Join a Book Club
Another great thing to do is to join a book club.
If you can meet up with other like-minded people who like to read the same books as you, then this can be very motivating.
The way book clubs usually work is that the group will create a reading list of books. Then each time they choose a new book to read. Then they get together periodically and compare thoughts and ideas about the book.
This can be very encouraging and motivating.
If the group meets once a week, it might be something of a struggle for you in the beginning. But stick with it and you will soon pick up speed.
Reading should and can be a habit that you build up for the rest of your life.
By reading regularly, not only will your English improve dramatically — but you will become a much more interesting and knowledgeable person.
You will have a great connection to the world you live in and the people you talk to every day. You will see other opinions and views, and it will make you more tolerant and a kinder person.
There are absolutely no downsides to reading.
So pick up a book — the right book — and start reading today.