Sometimes people wonder why reading is important. There are some obvious and some not-so-obvious reasons why reading is so vital to society. It’s true, there are a lot of other things we could be doing with our time, and with the advent of technology and the internet, some people might think of picking up a book as being a little dated or strange (e-book devices like the Nook and Kindle are replacing hard-copies in a lot of ways, though).

It is important to realize that struggling with vital reading skills in not a sign a low intelligence — if you do a quick search of the aforementioned internet, you’ll find a number of intelligent people who struggled with reading.

Which brings us back to the question of why is reading important?

Functioning in Everyday Society

Reading is an important part of developing critical comprehension and communication skills, and without those, life becomes incredibly difficult and in some cases, impossible. There are many adults who cannot read well enough to understand the instructions on a recipe, let alone important things like road signs or maps. That is a scary thought – especially for their children.  Day-to-day activities that those of us who can read take for granted become a source of frustration, anger and fear for those who can’t.

Finding Employment

If you thought finding a job was already difficult in today’s economy, think about how difficult it would be if you didn’t know how to read. One of the most important skills you can have is reading. Filling out job applications, reading and responding to memos and reports, or even reading simple directions become chores that can delay work or even put work on hold. Reading improves spelling, which improves the quality of a person’s resume, portfolio, and any items within that portfolio. Communication skills are better developed, which is key in virtually any job that’s out there today.

Mental Development

Reading doesn’t just mean better and more intellegent work in the workplace. It also allows you to develop the muscle that is your mind. like any muscle, the brain requires exercise. This is especially important for young children. The best books children can read involve using science to ask questions, discover, and solve problems. Interestingly, children also develop listening skills by reading, which helps them to avoid problems. In a nutshell, reading helps people of all ages avoid miscommunications that could result in job loss, divorce, and a myriad of other problems. Although it’s often overlooked, self-esteem and a better self-image is also an important part of knowing how to read. Non-readers or poor readers often have low opinions of themselves and their abilities and can feel like they’re alone in a world full of people who are out to get them. They often perform poorly in other subjects because they can’t read or comprehend the material and simply give up.

Discovery

As already hinted in Mental Development above, reading is important because it’s how we discover new things, particularly the most important things based on science. Books, magazines and even the Internet are great learning tools which require the ability to read and comprehend the material. A person able to read is a self-educated person, a person who can embrace new ideas at lightning speed and potentially turn those ideas into something more.

Imagination

Ahh, yes, where would the world be without imagination? It’s more than just thinking about being someone, something, or somewhere else. Imagination is the cornerstone of the human experience. Without imagination, the very fabric of our being would be at stake. Important subjects like science would not exist.  For non-readers, the very idea of imagination can be difficult to fathom. It’s imagination that spawns creativity and art. By utilizing imagination, children (and adults) can formulate their own opinions on the outcome of a story. They can picture things in their heads and are able to put these images on paper in writing or drawing form. This creativity can lead to an affinity for painting or writing, yes, but it can lead into new medical and scientific discoveries as well (remember Discovery above?).

Self-Control and Free-Thinking

Let’s go beyond the obvious. Many people tend to think the governments of the world are working for them when the reality is that the power of written ideas communicated through reading is a big reason why some governments oppose free and honest communication. Illiterate people are easier to control and manipulate. Yes it’s true; people who don’t read cannot do their own research and thinking. Often we find that many people who can read can’t comprehend or simply don’t want to do the research. In all of these cases, these people must rely on what they are told and how their emotions are swayed. We can see this happening in mainstream news media, politics, and society today.