Episode recap: Reading with Kim Jocelyn Dickson

In this week’s episode, we had the pleasure to chat with Kim Jocelyn Dickson about the Joy Superpower of reading. Kim is a literature and writing teacher with 30 years of experience in the classroom. Her life-long love of books has inspired her to write articles in psychology, literature and women’s issues, all of them leading eventually to her book called “The Invisible Toolbox: The power of reading to your child from birth to adolescence“. Here are the key points Kim shared with us.

It’s never too late to start reading

When we asked Kim her opinion on starting reading at a later age, she stressed that it’s never too late. Even though there are different developmental windows where learning certain skills is easier to us, Kim argues that “our brains can continue to grow”.

Another important thing Kim discussed was how one’s reading habits can change over time. “I’ve always loved reading […] I wasn’t reading a lot of challenging stuff until later on, in my 20s.” In other words, there are things to be discovered regardless of your age. However, you should keep it fun: it’s okay to stop reading a book if you don’t like it.

“I really think that one of the most important things is the connection”

According to Kim, the feeling of connectedness is perhaps the most valuable reward that you can get from reading, especially when it’s about reading to your child. Taking a moment just to read to your child with a book on your lap is a powerful experience : not only does it encourage your children to read, but it also strengthens the bond between you.

This is an effect that can’t be obtained by putting your child in front of a screen. The nurturing connection comes from actually singing those nursery rhymes to your child, instead of showing them animated nursery rhymes. Kim recently wrote an article about CoComelon and why it shouldn’t replace those moments of reading that are so precious.

“Reading puts the brain into a state that’s very similar to meditation”

Finally, when we asked Kim why so many studies show a correlation between life satisfaction and reading, she came up with a list of research-backed benefits reading has on our brain. Firstly, reading enhances the quality of sleep because it encourages deep relaxation and inner calm. Secondly, it lowers rates of depression, enhances creativity and improves empathy.

“When we read fiction, we necessarily put ourselves into the shoes of the characters that we’re reading about. So it actually activates the part of the brain that is activated through the feeling of empathy.”

In addition to all of these aspects that bring joy, Kim also talks about the importance of reading as a healthy coping mechanism: especially during the pandemic, those who read have had the possibility to escape their everyday world in a healthy and beneficial manner.

Do you agree with Kim on these key points on reading? Share us your experiences about reading with the hashtag #joysuperpowers . And if you haven’t already listened to the episode, make sure to subscribe and to listen to it here.

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