People do not often stop to think, “Why is reading important?” Yet, the simple act of reading this shows one answer to that question. Beyond imparting information, reading can sharpen critical thinking and other valuable skills. You can read to be educated, entertained or persuaded. Beyond that, though, the value of reading can be very personal. For first-generation college students, academic reading may provide opportunities no one else in their family has had. For young children just coming to realize that the symbols on the page have meaning, reading is a significant accomplishment.
About 32 million adults in the United States struggle to read.1 This challenge with reading can cause people to struggle in school and on the job. They may use coping mechanisms to get by, but the ability to read would make multiple aspects of life easier and more enjoyable. This situation inspires many teachers to pursue a degree with a reading emphasis. They know reading is a foundational skill for a vast range of life activities and want to support students by applying the latest research and best teaching practices. Reading teachers know why reading is important: it is an essential root system from which people can grow, learn and succeed as individuals and employees.
11 Reasons Reading Is Important
1. Helps Understand Instructions
When we can read, we can function safely and effectively in society. We need to read to fill out applications for everything from cell phone service to employment. Adults need to understand instructions on medications before taking doses for themselves or administering doses to children. Everyday activities such as reading street signs or understanding text messages can be a struggle for people whose literacy level is low.
2. Supports Us on the Job
Every job requires some level of literacy. Even jobs that do not require much academic or intensive reading still require employees to read memos, schedules, emails and training materials. Some jobs include frequent research and the writing and reading of complex texts. To go far in a career, being able to read reports and respond to workers’ documented concerns are vital skills to have.
3. Develops New Skills
Just by reading and following the words on a page or screen, you can learn to do new things. From a book on knitting, you can learn to use needle and yarn to craft scarves and other items. By following recipes in a cookbook, you can learn to prepare new meals and treats for yourself and loved ones. When we learn from words and create new things, reading develops our minds along with our skills.
4. Brings a Sense of Discovery
Reading is more than making sense of symbols on a page. It is constructing the meaning from those symbols. Reading increases our knowledge of the world. Excellent reading skills translate into the ability to learn from what we read. The more we read, the more curious we become, which sparks a cycle of research, inquiry and discovery. Discoveries made by reading can point you in new directions, expand your education or enhance your everyday life.
5. Grows Imaginations
Reading can bring us into new worlds, developing our creativity and imagination. When you read fiction, you imagine what it is like to be the characters you are reading about. You can read about any time in history or place in the world and even places that exist only as possibilities. The words paint a vivid image of the setting, and your imagination fills in the rest. The more you learn through reading, the more you can use your imagination to expand what you know about the world and its potential.
6. Helps Our Writing
The best writers are avid readers. Having read so many compelling stories, they know what it takes to craft one. To become a storyteller, reading is an essential practice that develops your writing skills and ability to communicate effectively. Writers know that reading exposes them to a variety of writing styles and techniques that they can apply in their own work. They can model their work on what they read, setting goals and striving to improve their practices.
7. Develops a Sense of Accomplishment
Many people like to read on vacation to retreat from the stress of everyday life. While reading can provide a respite from the mundane, it can also boost self-confidence. Having access to new information through reading can convey a sense of capability and accomplishment.
8. Supports All Areas of Life
Reading will always be important at school and work. Completing a degree requires reading widely on a range of subjects. Professional success requires communicating with others, often through reading and writing. Family life relies on reading, too, since everything from planning a vacation to researching babysitters requires reading skills.
9. Builds a Strong Vocabulary
Reading introduces new vocabulary. As you read about a topic, you learn words from the context. Later, when you want to talk or write about the topic or use it as an analogy, you have new vocabulary available.
10. Builds Accurate Spelling Skills
Reading can help you become a good speller. Many people take good spelling as an indication that you are serious about your job and conduct yourself professionally. Emails or memos littered with spelling mistakes come across as unprofessional. Reading exposes you to words repeatedly so that their spelling patterns become ingrained by familiarity.
11. Builds Community
Think about the last book that you read because someone recommended it to you. You might have thought about that person as you were reading the book. When people come together to discuss books and articles, whether at work or for personal growth, they share ideas and connect with one another. Reading can also be a team-building activity for groups learning to work together.
If you truly value all the ways reading enriches our lives, and you want to help others understand why reading is important, consider earning a reading degree at Grand Canyon University. If you are just beginning your teaching journey, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading. A degree like this can help you become a reading specialist at an elementary school. If you already have a degree, you can earn a Master of Arts in Reading with an Emphasis in either Elementary or Secondary Education.
1 Retrieved from https://thencbla.org/literacy-resources/statistics/, November, 2020
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.