Fire Up Your Summer With Reading
Fire Up Your Summer With Reading
Doesn’t it feel like summer? Summer actually doesn’t start til the 20th but it’s sunny in Albuquerque and has felt like summer for several weeks now.
What kind of things do you like to do in summer? Go on vacation? Swimming? Play video games?
When I was a kid, I looked forward to summer so much. I can remember sitting in 6th grade class and looking out the door to the California grass bordering the school yard, wanting to escape and for the school year to end.
In summer, one of my favorite things to do was go to the library and borrow a stack of books, usually about ten. As soon as I came home, I would make a beeline for the couch to read. But soon my mom would say, “Don’t forget to do your chores! If you don’t put away the dishes, and clear the table, help with dinner, we won’t go to the library anymore.” So my summers weren’t exactly carefree.
The history of reading
Everyone reads nowadays: texts, email, and books. So you might think, “What’s so special about reading?” Actually, when you think about what reading is, it’s pretty astonishing. Humans have been around for 200,000 years, but reading has only been around for the past 5000 years. Before that, you could only communicate face to face. There was no way to preserve thoughts except orally.
With reading, you can find out
- What Aristotle thought about ethics
- What Confucius thought constituted an exemplary life
- What Lincoln thought about human rights
These people have been gone for hundreds of years and yet their ideas and personalities live on, and continue to influence us. What an amazing tool!
Reading fosters empathy
As a person you only live one life and understand the world through your own perception. Yet, by reading, you can live vicariously – perhaps an astronaut, or a magician, or a cop. When I was a child I loved to imagine being someone else. One of the great benefits of reading is it can lead to greater empathy.
Benefits of reading for Toastmasters
Let’s talk about some of the benefits of reading that are pertinent to Toastmasters.
First, reading can improve your vocabulary.
- During ordinary conversation, you can get by with 1000 words
- A high school dropout may have a vocabulary of only 5,000 words
- Whereas if you attend college and read widely you build up to 25,000 words or more
This makes you a better speaker – more precise, more descriptive.
Secondly, reading books can inspire ideas for speech topics. Reading gives you something to talk about. It doesn’t have to be a speech. It could be for talking to your neighbor, or at a party with your friends.
A third reason is that reading can help you become a better writer. Before you give a speech, do you plan and write your speech? Writing is crucial for speech delivery, and good writers read. By reading widely, you will become more adept with words.
Here are four Competent Communicator Manual Toastmasters speeches that benefit from reading:
- Organize your speech
- Get to the point
- Persuade with power
- Inspire your Audience
Study other writers to see how they do it.
Additional reasons to read this summer, and an incentive program
There are many other reasons to read, of course. Reading has been shown to:
- Fight Alzheimer’s disease
- Combat depression
- Reduce stress levels by 68 percent, more than listening to music, drinking tea or coffee, or going for a walk
Perhaps you have the best intentions, but your schedule is all messed up because it’s summer. In that case, here is an additional incentive: The City of Albuquerque’s Summer Reading program is for children AND adults. It’s free. Sign up at your local library. Every time you read 10 hours, you fill out a card to enter a drawing for prizes. Two years ago I won 4 tickets to an Isotopes game. There are three grand prizes too, for plane tickets, balloon rides, or books. The program runs til July 29, so sign up quickly!
Whether it’s on your phone, your tablet, a magazine, or a book, I challenge you to make the most of your summer – with reading.