Read for Ten Minutes

Way back in 2014 (yes, I remember as I’ve blogged this before), Breakfast Television annoyed me not because of the disastrous news that usually occurs daily. Oddly, I wouldn’t often watch television in the morning, or stop to take notice if someone else had a programme on. But when I heard a recommendation to read for just ten minutes a day, it caught my attention. The presenter was saying how difficult it is to find ten minutes a day to read. The guest speaker was trying to agree, but to stress how important it is.

Ten minutes? Hmm… I can’t help feeling, except for extreme circumstances, everyone should have ten peaceful minutes. If they don’t, they need to reorganise their lives for their own sake.

Note: I said, except for extreme circumstances, so please don’t jump in with a chorus of disapproval. I’ve known carers who, yes, would find ten minutes difficult without falling asleep, but they still deserve ten peaceful minutes. Ten minutes to be transported out of their daily lives to another universe, and that’s what books can do for everyone. We all deserve time for oneself. We need it for physical and mental wellbeing. Reading has helped me through some truly stressful times. It’s been a lifeline, support, a close friend. I wish everyone could experience the same solace from reading that I do, but I understand that for some, that’s not possible. Still, I’d encourage reading for other reasons.

First, let’s get back to the subject of finding ten minutes. I’m referring to many people I know who come home from work to spend three hours watching television, so have no excuse finding time for ten minutes of reading. For those with children, please read to them for ten minutes at bedtime. Seriously, try it, even if they moan. There’s nothing better than books to stimulate their learning and the amount of pleasure gained in those quiet ten minutes may surprise the adults more than the children. An adult reading me to sleep is one of my favourite childhood memories, and I would feel all the poorer for not having that experience. An experience, I add, which has remained with me throughout my life. Even when life was at its most bleak, someone reading me a story was a constant treat to look forward to. Time spent together. Time spent well.

We talk about leading busy lives, but my grandparents’ generation worked far harder and still found the time. They had few chances simply to sit. Little time for fun. Little time when there wasn’t a chore that needed doing, and they had no home help such as washing machines (not even a launderette), but they still read to me, and I still read at bedtime as an adult, almost nightly. I’ve read at bus-stops, on trains, in cars, in a queue, during adverts, when ill, waiting for a phone call. If I read two pages or twenty, I read.

What made the argument even worse is the presenter said for adults who have reading problems that makes finding ten minutes even more difficult. That’s even more reason they need to be reading, which brings me to my other motives for encouragement.

I keep saying this—reading is the basis for all learning. If you can read, as long as you have access to the library, then you can teach yourself so many things. Good reading and writing skills will help throughout life. Reading helps to turn young people into more successful adults. It makes them more literate no matter what they do in life. I bet many who say they don’t have time to read still find the time to play with something else, such as a computer game, or browsing on their phone. I’ve read studies linking reading to better health, particularly with conditions like Alzheimer’s, but of course, in the news item I saw, no one mentioned that.

Can’t read for ten minutes? My brain flips and has to ask, “How can you not?” No time to read for ten minutes? How can anyone stand not to read for that or longer?