Phones, screens, emails, a busy calendar packed with events and meetings: where within all this can we find time to read, is a question we often ask ourselves. However, at Harrow we know that carving out time to read is valuable in so many ways.
In a recent training session for teachers, Marie Staunton, Head of Library and Archives, spoke about the value of 20 minutes' reading each day. It seems like such a small amount of time, but just 20 minutes can transform our lives. Twenty minutes of reading a book, and keeping phones and emails hidden away, promotes positive mental health and reduces stress. Of course, there are also the intrinsic benefits of reading: it can improve general knowledge, expand vocabulary, and steer the reader towards more confident use of language in their own writing. Reading encourages stronger analytical skills and can improve memory.
Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of reading is its power to position us within the minds and lives of different people. By learning about diverse experiences, either through characters in fiction or real-life people in non-fiction, we can become more empathetic and emotionally intelligent. Reading will help Harrow boys to live and work in a diverse world where they will value the power of kindness, empathy, and a willingness to understand the experiences of others.
Reading is also social. While the act of reading itself is private, quiet, calming, there is much enjoyment to be had in sharing our reading and recommending books. When a family, a tutor group, a division, a group of friends, a book group, are all reading the same book, the discussion that follows creates a wonderful shared experience. Likewise, when we recommend a book to someone, we are making a personal connection, building closer relationships, and encouraging meaningful conversations.
At Harrow we encourage boys, teachers, parents, and families to find joy in the shared experience of reading. There are whole worlds to be found within the covers of a book.
Lucy Ashe, Head of English
Picture caption: Harrow's Vaughan Library