Literacy is something we measure. Governments talk about certain communities having lower levels of literacy and it is something we use to compare wealth, and conversely, poverty. In my opinion, being literate should not be something you have to fight for. it should be an entitlement.
Now that is all very well to say but some people are not so bothered. People have different value systems and many believe it is more important for their kids to explore and be outside, to have fun and play. There is a place for that too.
However, if we don’t focus time and energy on reading skills at a young age then people suffer later on. If you grow up being unable to read, then you are disadvantaged in so many ways. You have a limited choice of careers, you will struggle to engage with daily tasks and manage you own affairs and you will find it much harder to pick up reading skills as you age.
Poorer countries don’t always have the money or skilled staff to provide schooling for everyone. in a modern world it seems ridiculous that this is the case. To me, the right to read is no different to the right to eat, be clothed and have shelter.
Let’s take a look at why reading matters.
1) Those who are learning to read do not always know how valuable this skill is. It is schools and parents who need to impart this fact. Being able to learn to read is in fact, wrongly, a privelage after all.
2) Most studying involves reading wisely. By this I mean scanning, remembering facts from books, understanding labelled diagrams and knowing how to be sceptical about documents.
3) Reading is fun. Just like most things, you need to practise using the skills to start enjoying it properly.
4) Reading opens doors. Not just to work opportunities but also to other worlds. If you live in a small village in the mountains, you may know nothing about the Amazon but books can allow you to gain some understanding about such places.
5) Reading keeps your brain alert. It focuses your mind and prevents you from deskilling. Whether flicking through a newspaper, glancing at a blog or reading a recipe, these useful skills also help your brain stay well.
I wrote this article in response to hearing some people discussing how little reading mattered. They were saying as long as their kids were happy and had fun, it didn’t matter. As you can tell, I disagree. Reading is important, it is an entitlement and we should promote it as much as we can. Without being able to read, you are more likely to suffer as the world revolves around language and text.
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