A never-ending reservoir of stories lies waiting for you to dive in. Why should you (or anyone else) read? It could save your life. That doesn’t mean you have a life of textbooks ahead of you. No, the reading material is up to you! (Though if you like textbooks, far be it from me to discourage you from reading them!)
According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), literacy is the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.”
Literacy is incredibly powerful! What can it do for you?
1) Reading increases your word power: People who read have a greater variety of words to use—and a greater variety of words helps them to express themselves better. And, like a muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it gets. And the more you know, the better you’ll be able to converse with others. You’ll be able to talk to a greater variety of people about an ever-widening range of subjects. As a bonus, you’ll remember more. When you read you have time to stop and think about a particular passage; when you listen to audio or watch television, the information doesn’t always have time to sink in.
“Read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read until words become your friends. Then when you need to find one, they will jump into your mind, waving their hands for you to pick them. And you can select whichever you like, just like a captain choosing a stickball team.” —Karen Witemeyer
2) Reading is fundamental to our society: We need to be able to read instructions (for instance, on medicine bottles or road signs), follow a map, fill out job applications, understand agreements we sign. The inability to read can lead to some serious frustration.
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” —Kofi Annan
3) Reading can help you relax and relieve stress.
“Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds, according to new research.” (The Telegraph, 30 Mar 2009)
4) Reading helps us discover new things: The internet, magazines, and books are amazing tools. We can learn anything we want to learn about anything in the world. The information available to us today is immeasurable. Isn’t that amazing? But… you have to know how to read and how to operate those tools. Don’t know how to do it? Google it! (Did you know that “google” became a verb in the 1990s?)
“Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.” —Tomie dePaola
5) Readers improve their imaginations—and improve the world: The stories in books (fictional and non-fictional) feed our imaginations. We are exposed to so many worlds, opinions, views! When you read something, your brain fills in all the details. When you watch television it’s filled in for you. People with good imaginations are more likely to do volunteer and charity work, to figure things out and to build things.
6) Reading increases concentration. When you read a book—as opposed to a blog or newsfeed—you have to dedicate time to the effort. Immersing yourself in the story means closing off the rest of the world. Is it hard to focus for more than a few minutes at a time? You might have been trained by our social media! Practice, though, will increase your attention span.
7) Reading teaches better spelling and punctuation. The more you see it done properly, the more you learn.
8) Reading shows other places and cultures: By learning about others, you can better understand and share their feelings and beliefs.
“It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.” —S.I. Hayakawa
9) Reading builds self-esteem: When you are more knowledgeable and informed, you feel better about yourself. People come to you for answers. And that feels good!
10) Reading is inexpensive entertainment: For the same price as a two-hour movie you can buy a book that will give you hours (or days!) more. And a library card is free. Many libraries now participate in on-line lending, too.
Oh, the joy…
Now that you know why to read, I’d like to challenge you to participate in “D.E.A.R.” (Drop Everything And Read).
You may remember that Beverly Cleary wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Since then, “Drop Everything and Read” programs have been held nationwide on April 12th in honor of Mrs. Cleary’s birthday.
How do you participate? Drop everything and read!
The Fantasy Sci-Fi Network will be sponsoring an event on their website and on Facebook. We’d love for you to join! Who’s with us? What will you be reading? Spread the word, and leave your comments (and commitments!) in the space below!