20 Minutes a Night: Why Reading is Important

Great Books on my shelf

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin


It’s back-to-school time at my house, which means 3 new grades in school, 3 sets of new teachers, and 3 open houses / curriculum nights.

This year, my sons are in 10th, 8th, and 6th grades. They’re past the elementary years of education in the US, but this year, one of the teacher’s slides on reading caught my eye. I want to share it here.

20 Minutes a Night: Why Reading is Important

In the early years, when my oldest son was learning to read, my husband and I felt like we were on an exponential learning curve. Neither of us are teachers, nor do we have backgrounds in education. When it came time for kindergarten, and then 1st grade, both of us had much to learn on the finer points of helping our child–and then children–to read in the new systems in place at schools.

Every night, we sat with our son, and then sons, and read the primers sent home from school, from the five page booklets to Henry and Mudge, and then more difficult chapter books, etc. Everything was new: listening for the cues, waiting them to self-correct, listening for them to show they understand what they’ve read, and so on.

I’m certainly not a reading specialist, nor a teacher, by any stretch of the word, but I do enjoy reading. I always have. Books are one of the things that I love above all others. So I have watched with keen interest how my sons have developed as readers. One is passionate about books, one not at all, and one lukewarm. They all like different kinds of books and text — one fantasy and history, one non-fiction, one realistic fiction. But the important thing is that they do read.

This slide, from the 6th grade presentation at my youngest son’s school, proves why.

Why Read?
Why Read?


I believe books and education help us to learn about ourselves and others. I believe reading helps open doors to a better world. I believe when a person reads a book and steps into another world, he or she becomes more versed about the world around them, about the problems others face, and helps them to realize they are not alone.

With books, with education, a nation can become less ignorant, less prejudiced, less fearful.

With reading, we can learn that no matter the color of our skin, or our cultures, or our backgrounds, religions, and language, we are all parts of something larger — a story.

By reading books, 20 minutes a night, for children and adults alike, we become enriched in our thoughts and behaviors.

We become unified.

It is a powerful thing, reading.

Reading books is fundamental.

I encourage you to read.

Great Books on my shelf

Find a book you might enjoy. How?

A group of 8 friends and I recommend 1 great book each week at http://GreatNewBooks.org. We all have different reading tastes, and our site is divided by types of books. It’s easy to use. I hope you stop by, and sign up to receive our once weekly email with that week’s book recommendation.

For children’s books, visit Common Sense Media .

Also, Goodreads.com is a great resource for books.

This school year, make it a priority to read. If not for yourself, to read with your children. It is fundamental for a better future, a better life.

For you:

Do you have a favorite book recommendation site? Where do you find your books? And, have you read any great books lately? If so, please share!

Thank you, and happy reading!

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

10 thoughts on “20 Minutes a Night: Why Reading is Important

  1. “We become unified,” I love that. I love this post! We’re big readers, and it was wonderful to pass the enthusiasm to our kids. Now that they’re young adults, I get great book recommendations from them. It’s awesome. (BTW, another reason reading is important…. when my kids took the SATs, they both scored super high on the reading portion, and I did a little research and found out that reading widely is the #1 way to raise your reading score.)

    1. I so agree with your comment, Julia as well as with Jennifer’s post. Our daughter picked up the joy of reading naturally as a young child not only because we read to her nightly, but also because she was surrounded by parents and grandparents who were all passionate readers. As for me, reading has always been one of my favorite past times and I can’t imagine life without a list of books I am currently reading. Aside from personal development texts, my favorite genre is biography/memoir. This summer I read two great ones: “Stand Up Straight and Sing” by opera singer Jessye Norman and “Everybody’s Got Something” by Good Morning America News Anchor Robin Roberts. Both were inspiring.

      1. Those are wonderful recommendations, Pheralyn. Thank you! I haven’t read either of those, but do enjoy memoir, as well.
        And yes, I agree–a child picks up a love for reading by watching the adults in their lives who are passionate about reading. Thank you for sharing!

    2. I love hearing that you get book recommendations from your kids now! Full circle.
      About a week ago, we were talking with some friends from Mexico, and listening to their stories of the state of their country right now, and the problems they’re facing, and they talked about how education has been denied in whole segments of their country’s population. Reading and education are important–beyond what we can imagine, as Americans, I think. When the people are not educated and don’t have access to books and reading, the whole nation suffers. Definitely, kids who are readers score higher on their SATs, but also, more broadly speaking, become contributors to a better world at large.
      So glad you’re a reading advocate, too! Thanks, Julia!

    1. The results of 20 minutes a night of reading is staggering, isn’t it? Most of all, I love that my youngest came home and told me about this slide, after his language arts teacher had shared it with them in class. After months of not wanting to read, suddenly he wanted to read books, every night. I’m delighted. Thank you, Stacey!

  2. Jennifer, I teach 4th grade and want to thank you for your plug for reading. It is super important in so many areas (spelling, vocabulary, comprehension etc.) I love it when families read and discuss a book together. It’s one of life’s simple, free pleasures adults and kids can share together.

    Three of my favorites are books I was assigned to read in my college children’s lit class. I’ve read them to students over the years, and they always love them. First is the series by Richard Peck: “A Long Way From Chicago”, “A Year Down Yonder”, and “A Season of Gifts.” Next is “The Watsons Go To Birmingham–1963” by Christopher Paul Curtis. Last, but not least, is “Goose Girl” by Shannon Hale. ( I wish someone would make this book into a movie. )

    Thanks for all you do to promote books for adults. I’ve read some of GNB’s recommendations, and I’ve enjoyed every one.

    1. Yes: “one of life’s simple, free pleasures adults and kids can share together.” I love that.

      Thank you for sharing this excellent list of favorite books. I haven’t read a single one–but they’re all going on my list.

      I’m so glad you’ve plugged into GNB, and love to talk reading and books with you! Thank you, Kim!

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