by Beth Shepard   Beth's profile on LinkedIn  

Reading Renders Remarkable Rewards: Better Health, Longer Life

An intriguing Yale University School of Public Health study has great news for book lovers: Adults over 50 who read books (the more, the better) live an average of almost 2 years longer than those who don’t; and reading books offers a distinct advantage over reading magazines and newspapers.

It’s no secret that reading stimulates the brain — cultivating thinking processes, increasing connectivity, and fostering creativity. It also can reduce stress, boost empathy, promote a sense of community, and might even help you sleep better.

“Keep reading. It's one of the most marvelous adventures that anyone can have.”

Lloyd Alexander

Weaving reading opportunities and literacy support into your workplace well-being program can help employees and dependents benefit from these payoffs. With a balanced approach, you can unlock a significant path to lifelong learning, enrichment, enjoyment, and health. A few ideas:

  • Give a book, take a book. Establish an onsite self-service library; this could be as small as a dedicated bookshelf in a central area. Invite donations of gently used fiction and nonfiction. Set limits to increase the odds your space won’t fill up with items nobody wants to read.

  • Create a voluntary book club. Run it once or twice a year, with biweekly lunchtime group discussions. At the end, invite the author to visit in person or by webcast for an informal talk and Q & A session. (Reading a fiction bestseller together could benefit your workforce teamwork as much as — or more than — reading the latest leadership tome.)

  • Round up other readers. Encourage employee groups to start their own book clubs. Post a list of internal clubs, their leaders, and current titles on your website; include tips on how to launch and run a worksite book club.

  • Go public. Promote free resources available at your public library — reading lists, workshops, author readings, contests, and more.

  • Collaborate. Invite a librarian to share insights and ideas for building your reading program.

  • Hold a sale. Do this once a year to clear out and refresh your self-service library; donate proceeds to a literacy program.

  • Celebrate the season. Books make wonderful gifts; include local booksellers in your holiday gift sale lineup.

  • Nudge. If you give out prizes for wellness activities, include bookseller gift cards to help workers grow their personal library.

  • Build skills. Include literacy tips and resources for those interested in boosting their reading skills. Provide links to nearby libraries and adult literacy programs.

People will read if, when, what, and how much they want to; a workplace reading program helps create an environment that cultivates curiosity, learning, growth, and a shared experience… all significant contributors to business success and personal well-being.

“The world was hers for the reading.” ― Betty Smith,  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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