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“Once I started reading, I learned the person who has the most to do with what happens to you, is you.” ~ Ben Carson

I recently listened to an interview with Ben Carson. A world renowned neurosurgeon who was raised by a single mother in inter-city Detroit. His interview below reinforces my belief in the importance of reading to radically change you and your child’s life. I give you three ways this happens below.

One of the fondest memories of my youth was jumping on my bike on a warm summer day and riding down to the city library. We didn’t have small backpacks back then so the number of books I could check out was a function of how many books I could carry in one arm while using the other arm to steer my bike.

In hindsight it is no coincidence that there was a transformation in my reports cards. A few years ago my mom handed me an large envelope that contained all my old school photos. Also included were my grade school report cards. My earliest report cards are sprinkled with comments like “Talks too much in class.” “Needs to improve focus” which is a polite way to says I goofed off a lot. There were also several subjects checked “Needs Improvement.”

But around 4th grade things began to change. From 5th grade on I was constantly near the top of my class. This coincides with the period where I developed a love of reading. I soon realized that I knew more than the other kids, not so much because I was inherently smarter. But because of my reading I knew things that they didn’t. And it changed my outlook.

Here are three ways reading can positively affect the life of your children:

  • Between 70-80% of high school dropouts are functionally illiterate. By removing this obstacle early in the process you greatly increase your child’s opportunity for academic success.
  • It will positively change your child’s view of themselves. Ken Carson put it best, “When I was stupid, I acted like I was stupid.. as I learned more I realized it made me more valuable.”
  • It will change their outlook on life. At some point I came to believe, and still do, that you can learn anything by reading. Ken Carson expresses the same idea by saying “Because of the reading, I begin to see that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you, is you.”

Among other things, I’ve always been drawn to biographies. They are often inspiring. Ben Carson talks about the inspiration he received by reading about Booker T. Washington. A black man who found a way to learn to read despite the fact it was illegal for blacks to read that time. He later went on to act as an adviser to two US Presidents.

Take a few minutes to listen to the interview below and reconsider the role of reading in your life and that of your children.

Backstage Interview – Ben Carson from GiANT Impact on Vimeo.

Did you read growing up? What methods have you tried to encourage your kids to read?

You might also like Children: Equipping them for Success

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