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Reading – good for your health

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By Jane Bowerconsultant to primary schools in art, drama, dance and literacy

original article published April 2008

Discover 10 ways that both mind and body can benefit from reading.

children reading

1. Healthy-mind portraits

We have plenty of information on what makes a healthy body, but what makes a healthy mind? Invite children to discuss this and then make facial portraits showing the contents of the mind – with thoughts floating out on ‘think’ bubbles. A healthy mind might be thinking of good memories, loving and being loved, planning something fun, the right amount of sleep, a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities, a balance of work and play, hobbies, reading, music, and so on. An unhealthy mind might contain loneliness, jealousy, hatred, anger, nothing to look forward to and bad memories. Deal with this idea positively by emphasising that minds can nearly always be improved and made more healthy. How might we go about doing this, for ourselves and for other people? Instead of painted portraits, written portraits can be made, or a play about two minds where one learned from the other.

2. Reading for health

Discuss what reading resources are available that specifically help our health. Gather as many examples as possible. These might include leaflets from surgeries, supermarkets and pharmacies. There may be others, such as advertisements for books or courses to ‘improve your mind’ or aid the memory, or leaflets about meditation, yoga, and so on. You might also bring cultural or historical information sources, such as museum guides or theatre and concert programmes. How might these benefit the mind and body?

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