Lauren McNeese, Staff Writer

What is the Purpose of #Getsleepandread?

      #GetSleepAndRead is a campaign to encourage the high school students of Chattanooga Christian School to 1. Get more sleep by turning off technology an hour before going to bed and 2. Read more. It does so by A) Informing students of the science behind reading and sleeping, as well as the ways in which the brain benefits from both, and B) Telling students about the amazing new books that the Learning Commons just received (to find out more about the benefits of reading, check out this article at RD.com). 

Every other year since 1992, thousands of homes have been polled by the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study

(HRS) to find out how many hours a day people spend reading. In 2016, Yale School of Public Health reviewed this data about the reading habits and health of over 36,000 men and women over the age of 50, and the results were startlingly distinct. Those who read 30 minutes a day over several years lived an average of two years longer than those who did not read at all. Oddly enough, those who reported reading 3 hours plus daily were 23% less likely to die within 2001-2012 than their peers who only read newspapers or magazines.

     Why would it make a difference what you were reading as long as you were reading? Primarily, researchers believe that novels are better at involving one’s brain in “deep reading.” Reading a book, regardless of genre, forces a brain to make connections from chapter to chapter as well as the outside world. When these happens, new connections are created inside of the brain, making pathways from all four lobes and both hemispheres. Over time, these neural networks fight against cognitive decay as well as promoting quicker thinking. If that is not reason enough to join your local book club or get a library card, reading fiction has been shown to increase both empathy and emotional intelligence. In 2013, a study was conducted that showed participants who read even just part of a chapter of a book displayed greater empathy than their peers who solely read the news. Developing empathy and emotional intelligence leads to more positive social interactions, which in turn leads to a decrease in stress levels, eventually resulting in a longer and healthier lifespan. Time spent reading magazines, newspapers, and web articles is not entirely worthless; reading anything that fills your mind carries mental benefits. Cognitive reserve, your brain’s ability to adapt to damage, is actually strengthened by the expanding of one’s vocabulary. Similar to the way that a cut would scab over before healing, your cognitive reserve is adept at finding pathways around the brain areas damaged by stroke and dementia. This is a possible explanation for the fact that many seemingly healthy seniors’ brain’s show advanced signs of Alzheimer’s disease after death. Some seniors have the ability to compensate for hidden brain damage, and researchers believe that it is due to the cognitive reserve. The benefits of reading will not only help you later on in life, however. Children who read 3-4 times a week with their parents show stronger literacy skills 4 years later, as well as higher scores on intelligence assessments. Even in adult years, reading is proven to support healthy brain-functioning in significant ways (to find out more about how reading helps you, check out this article at RD.com)

     The left temporal cortex is the area of the brain which is most strongly associated with language reception, and this is where the most basic impact of reading occurs. Neurons are heavily involved in transmitting information while processing written words. While this occurs when processing spoken language too, the brain works harder and better when reading than when simply listening. Similar to muscle memory, reading may have the effect of shadow activity, or persisted benefits. The central sulcus of the brain, the area which is responsible for motor activity, also benefits from reading, along with the language section. This is due to the fact that when you read about physical activity, the neurons that control that activity becomes busy as well. The result: the more parts of your brain that get a workout, the better it is for your overall cognitive performance. 


New Books:

     As #getsleepandread gains additional traction, here are five more reviews of even newer books that are now available in The Learning Commons. The last review had you coming back for more.

Not sure where to start in your venture to improve your mental state by reading? Unsure of what great new novels are just out there, just waiting for you to pick up? The Learning Commons recently ordered several new books to get you started! Here are some quick reviews to peak your interest. 


Book #1

 How to Make Friends With the Dark, Kathleen Glasgow

“You must go on.

I can’t go on. 

You must go on. 

Because what other choice is there, really?

You have to make friends with the dark.”

     When Tiger’s mother dies unexpectedly, she is thrust into an entirely different lifestyle. Having never known her father, she must move in and out of foster homes, until she eventually locates a half sister she didn’t know existed. Through tumultuous relationships with those closest to her, and her own pursuit to find herself, Tiger must learn how to accept what she cannot change and find a way to move forward in her life, even when it feels as though she has no hope. This, she discovers, is how you make friends with the dark. 



Book #2

The Librarian of Auschwitz, Henry Holt

     Henry Holt’s novel is based on a real story of Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, who risked her life in order to preserve stories. At the young age of fourteen, Dita understands the power of literature and the vitality of keeping these books alive. Freddy Hirsch, a Jewish leader, entrusts her to safekeep the precious eight volumes that prisoners had snuck past the guards. Kraus hides the books in the hidden pockets of her smock, and is then able to share them with hundreds of imprisoned children. This seemingly small act provides the children with hope, joy, and a sense of freedom.  

Book #3 

Hope and Other Punchlines, Julie Buxbaum

     “Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.”

Abbi Goldstein was photographed holding a red balloon when she was a baby, the twin towers collapsing in the background. Sixteen years later, she is still viewed as a historical icon of resilience and hope. Noah Stern has grown up without a father, and believes that he may have made it out alive. He wants to find answers, while Abbi wants to move forward. Noah sets up interviews with the survivors featured in the photograph, and talks Abbi into attending the meetings. Both of them must face unexpected answers and find a way to move on, despite the horrid repercussions of the day that would go on to impact the rest of their lives. 



Book #4

Trapped, Michael Northrop

     Seven high schoolers are left at school the day a blizzard hits. With no teachers, no power, and no way to escape, they must find a way to survive. A week passes, the snow continues to fall, and hope dwindles. After realizing that no one is coming to get them, Scotty is forced to reckon with a devastating decision. Will he devise a plan to leave for help or risk facing life-threatening consequences? 



Book #5





Educated, Tara Westover

    Tara Westover shares her childhood story and quest for education in her new memoir, and in doing so may have just radically altered the way many view education. Westover was raised Mormon, and was inhibited by her family’s religious loyalties and refusal to partake in government affairs, ranging from modern medicine to the public school system. The first time she hears of the holocaust is in a lecture at Brigham Young University, and the first time she is able to face the harsh reality of her father’s mental illness is when her psychology professor describes the affects of bipolar disorder. Westover recounts her journey of how she went from a confusing and abusive childhood environment to an educated adulthood. 


Book #6

Ink, Alice Broadway

     “Your mistakes don’t have to be forever. There’s redemption. There’s always redemption.” 

What does it mean to be given a fresh start? How much do our past mistakes dictate our future? How much, if at all, do we consist of our failures and mistakes? The town that Leora lives in has no secrets. How could it when all peoples actions, decisions, achievements, and crimes are permanently inked on their skin? When Leora’s father dies, her family finds comfort in the fact that they have been given his skin, a record of accomplishments and stories that signify remembrance. But when Leora finds that her father has been marked in a dishonorable manner, the mark that symbolizes only the worst crime, she must figure out what she can do about it. When the horrifying secret gets out, her father’s legacy - as well as her life - is on the line. Alice Broadway explores the terrifying lengths that we go to as a means of making our worlds feel orderly.