Americans are lonely. The rate of people feeling misunderstood and not heard is at an all-time high. In fact, a study that was conducted by Cigna in May 2018 showed that nearly half of the 20,000 Americans surveyed feel alone or left out.
In order to break away from the pattern of loneliness, people need to understand that it affects everyone. The margin between feeling lonely sometimes and feeling alone is thin but there are easy ways to feel a sense of belonging.
A great way that I have learned to break the vicious cycle of loneliness is through reading
- Read With Others
- I find that some of my favorite childhood memories are when my mom would gather us seven kids around and read aloud her favorite books. She would read Anne of Green Gables and make us laugh by voicing all the outrageous characters. Reading together brought my family closer and connected us on a deeper level.
- Start/Join a Book Club
- Being part of a book club gave me the feeling that people were hearing me out. I would bring up things I loved and issues that I had with the book and many people would start a conversation about why I thought this. Being part of a book club opened many doors through learning from others and feeling respected about my opinions at the same time.
- Read Books that Mentors/Teachers Assign
- When a teacher or mentor assigns a book or reading material…read it! The person who designed the assignment had a purpose in the recommendation; therefore by reading it you can connect with your classmates, build rapport with your teacher, and have a stronger bond with a mentor and/or friend.
- Read Aloud on Car Rides
- Something semi-unique is reading out loud on long roadtrips. This helps the roadtrip go by faster and creates a feeling that everyone is part of something. Even something as simple as a short story can be the difference between feeling lonely to feeling part of a collective.
- Bring a Book Everywhere
- Sometimes I feel the most disconnected from people when ironically I’m surrounded by tons of people (like the airport). I usually pull out a book and start reading. I become so invested in the book that many times people have asked what book I’m reading and what’s it about. This gives me the opportunity to relate to people. Where if I was on my phone I wouldn’t get that same opportunity of interconnection because people don’t care about my high score on <insert current popular app>.
I’m the Summer Intern at the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF). After going to my first presentation at Jericho Elementary, I realize how much books develop strong bonds between people. After the kids received their books, they would automatically join a group and start reading together. I experienced the beauty of how a simple book can be the answer to building long lasting friendships and everyday connections with people.
When there is no one to turn to: grab a book, write a poem, or read this blog post.
Please comment, like and share. I want to know your thoughts, experiences, and more ways reading can end loneliness.
Lydia Schneider is CLiF’s 2018 summer intern.