National Read a Book Day on September 6 calls all book lovers to indulge in their favorite hobby, guilt-free. Bringing new worlds to life, books enlighten us and transport us on exciting adventures. They can challenge our perspectives on the human experience in ways unmatched by other media. In a world deluged by technology, National Read a Book Day encourages us to silence the noise and turn the pages for a while.
History of National Read a Book Day
While National Read a Book Day is believed to have originated in the US, other details of the day’s history are unclear. What is clear, though, is Americans’ love for books! And, for many, this is a welcomed day because 81% of us don’t feel we spend as much time reading as we would like. So, today is the perfect opportunity to set aside a little time to catch up on our “to read” list.
The popularity of book clubs points to our ongoing love for books. They date back to the 1600s with women’s Bible studies. But, in the last few decades, reading has taken on a much more social element influenced, in large part, by Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. Starting in 1996, Oprah’s Book Club recommended 70 books contributing to over $55 million in sales and has been credited with inspiring millions of people to read books.
Over 74% of Americans have read at least one book in the last 12 months. Sure, the busyness of life definitely gets in the way of our reading pursuits with many other activities competing for our time. Luckily, electronic platforms have made it easier for us to read on the go. Almost 20% of books consumed are now via electronic platforms. Whatever format you prefer, grab or download the book on the top of your stack and dive in!
National Read a Book Day timeline
By 2010, 66% of public libraries were offering electronic books (or e-books).
The first novel in the Harry Potter series is released and goes on to sell over 500 million books making it the highest-selling series by a single author (J. K. Rowling) of all time.
One of the earliest known books printed using a printing press in Europe making the Bible widely available to the average person.
- First Century AD
Paper and the papermaking process were invented in China during the first century AD.
National Read a Book Day FAQs
Who is the fastest reader in the world?
Howard Berg was recognized in 1990 by The Guinness World Record Book as the world’s fast reader at over 25,000 words per minute. Mind blown.
How quickly does the average person read?
The average person (aka non-speed reader) reads between 200 – 300 words per minute.
Can the final volume of Harry Potter be read in 47 minutes?
Apparently so! Anne Jones, a six-time winner of the World Championship Speed Reading Competition, read Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows in 47 minutes equating to 4,200 words per minute.
National Read a Book Day Activities
Read a book
Of course, that’s the point of the day but you can put a fun spin on reading by joining a reading challenge. Google “reading challenge” images and you’ll see dozens of checklists and ideas on selecting books that will stretch your imagination while finding a book you won’t be able to put down.
Volunteer with your local library
Chances are, you have a local public library that can always use volunteers. Libraries do a lot of important work for their communities creating a safe, quiet space for children to learn. Community meetings are held in libraries and many function as polling places during elections. Donating books to your local library is a great way to share knowledge with your community and book donations often help libraries flesh out their shelves.
Share your passion with someone
Share your passion for reading with someone. Read to your children in order and pass along your love of books to them. You could also volunteer to read to an elderly adult unable to read on their own. Reading aloud to them not only improves your brain function and reduces your stress level, but it also creates a connection they will treasure and stimulates their brain activity as well.
5 Fun Facts About Bookworms
How many books bought?
Over 675 million print books were sold in the US throughout 2018.
How much money spent?
Americans spend an average of $28 on books annually.
Who’s most likely to read?
Adults aged 18 – 29 are most likely to have read at least one book in the last 12 months.
How much time spent?
The US tied with Germany as #22 in the world for time spent reading at just under 6 hours per week; India holds the top spot at almost 12 hours reading per person per week.
Who’s most satisfied with life?
One study showed adults who read at least 30 minutes per week are 20% more satisfied with life than those who are not spending the same time reading.
WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL READ A BOOK DAY
Books expand our minds
It’s rare that you would read a book and not experience a new thought or perspective you’ve never considered before. We open ourselves to new information when we read and can walk in someone else’s shoes for a while. Frequent readers tend to be more aware of cultural differences and social issues while showing more compassion and understanding.
Reading is good for our health
Studies prove that avid readers show fewer signs of stress and have higher problem-solving abilities than people who don't read. Reading renews energy, elevates mood, promotes more restful sleep, and slows the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia through brain activity. Overall, reading leads to a longer, healthier life.
It creates community
With the popularity of book clubs, reading is now considered a team sport. Having a group of friends to share the highlights, learning points and humor of books makes reading that much more fun. The wine doesn’t hurt either!
National Read a Book Day dates