As we begin to count down towards Christmas, perhaps you will be thinking about what gifts you might buy, or what presents you might ask for. I would like to suggest that everyone should think about including a book or two on the list this year.
Books provide an escape into imagination, and a need to have quiet. A time away from the draw of electronic devices and social media, and a time to develop creativity, increase knowledge, and aid reflection.
As the BBC recently reported, the UK has risen in the global PISA education tables in the last year, and part of this may be down to an increase in reading. Of course, reading can be using an e-reader, or listening to an audio book, although personally, I prefer to have a physical book in my hands. As with use of electronic devices, modelling the right behaviour is important, and finding time as a family to read quietly is a really good starting point.
Reading is also extremely good for getting the mind in the right place for sleep at the end of the day, so once the phone has been switched off, or left to charge outside the bedroom, pick up a book, and you might find that you get to sleep more easily. As I have mentioned previously, sleep is increasingly seen as a crucial way of maintaining good physical and mental health, improving productivity and work rate, and sleep is harder to achieve immediately after looking at the screen on a phone or laptop.
So, as long as you are not going to end up with a lump of coal (or one of the more environmentally friendly fuels) in your stocking, why not ask for a book or two this Christmas? And, if you are out shopping, and not sure what to get, and feel tempted by the latest throwaway gadget, why not step into a bookshop, and find something that will make someone happier, more educated, and more creative. That really could be a happy Christmas.