Why is Read­ing Im­por­tant?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Septem­ber 8th marked fifty years of cel­e­bra­tion for UNESCO’s In­ter­na­tional Lit­er­acy Day. Al­though the world has ex­pe­ri­enced a de­cline in il­lit­er­acy rates, a close in gen­der par­ity gaps and ad­vance­ment in youth lit­er­acy skills, there are still 758 mil­lion il­lit­er­ate adults. Ac­cord­ing to UNESCO In­sti­tute of Sta­tis­tics, lit­er­acy rates in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean are over 90% and there is hardly a dif­fer­ence in gen­der adult/youth lit­er­acy rates.

Lit­er­acy is sim­ply the abil­ity to read and write for ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Some­times the lib­er­ties that lit­er­acy en­ables are taken for granted. We are life in the In­for­ma­tion Age and have sur­vived and are sur­viv­ing the In­dus­trial/Dig­i­tal Rev­o­lu­tion. This is the era where no ex­cuse is valid for not know­ing some­thing, un­less you are in one of the word’s re­ally un­for­tu­nate re­gions or you sim­ply don’t want to. All dig­i­tal or tech­no­log­i­cal en­ter­tain­ment is ver­sa­tile enough to also be a learn­ing tool. There are YouTube tu­to­ri­als for al­most any­thing, Wikipedia pro­files for ev­ery pub­lic fig­ure through­out his­tory, and Michael Jack­son ,as dead as he may be, has a Vevo ac­count with all his mu­sic. Thanks to the New Age there are many ways to learn and know dif­fer­ent things but al­though they have trimmed the prac­tice of ac­tive read­ing, the in­evitable still re­mains: we have to read.

In hon­our of the United Na­tions’ fifty years of hard work, here are a few re­minders of the im­por­tance and ben­e­fits of read­ing in a re­gion where the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion is lit­er­ate: 1. Our liveli­hoods de­pend on read­ing and fol­low­ing in­struc­tions cor­rectly. Imag­ine giv­ing a child an adult dosage of med­i­ca­tion, fol­low­ing a map in­cor­rectly and end­ing up in a dan­ger­ous spot, or fill­ing in fi­nan­cial or in­sur­ance forms with the wrong in­for­ma­tion. Ter­ri­fy­ing, right? Not be­ing able to read can ac­tu­ally cause fa­tal­ity or the loss of pos­ses­sions. 2. Fre­quent or ha­bit­ual read­ing in­creases fo­cus be­cause it’s an ac­tiv­ity that re­quires vis­ual and men­tal fo­cus, still­ness, and a quiet en­vi­ron­ment. Any dis­trac­tions would im­me­di­ately cause the reader to well, stop read­ing. 3. Tech­nol­ogy def­i­nitely makes life eas­ier for us but we still need to ex­er­cise to keep fit. Al­though the brain is not phys­i­cally a mus­cle, the mind needs to be ex­er­cised. Read­ing as well as chess and other ac­tiv­i­ties that re­quire in­tense con­cen­tra­tion are help­ful brain ex­er­cises. 4. Ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lit­er­acy skills are im­por­tant in any work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, to un­der­stand tasks as­signed, state your views and re­lay cor­rect in­for­ma­tion. 5. Read­ing is the ul­ti­mate pass­port, not just to go around the world, but through time, space and peo­ple’s minds. All lit­er­a­ture, whether ex­pos­i­tory or fic­tion, teaches some­thing, and good books take you to dif­fer­ent cul­tures, life­styles, ideas, ge­og­ra­phy, fash­ion and events. 6. The prac­tice of read­ing widens the imag­i­na­tion. Un­like movies and videos that have al­ready cre­ated the vis­ual and au­dio in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a story or event, read­ing al­lows the reader to fab­ri­cate it in the mind. Also, the ideas in the book are writ­ten from some­one else’s mind, ex­pos­ing the reader to a new ex­pe­ri­ence away from what’s in their own mind. 7. Read­ing im­proves vo­cab­u­lary. By see­ing new words in con­text, read­ers can grasp the mean­ing or may look it up in a dic­tionary be­fore they can move on in ef­fec­tive read­ing. 8. It helps de­velop em­pa­thy. Be­ing able to re­late to char­ac­ters in lit­er­a­ture on per­sonal lev­els not only makes read­ing more in­ter­est­ing, but helps read­ers iden­tify per­son­al­ity traits and types of them­selves and the peo­ple around them. Have you ever read a book and re­alised you have as­so­ci­ated ev­ery char­ac­ter with some­one you know? 9. Read­ing is a re­lax­ing ex­er­cise. Ly­ing qui­etly, fo­cus­ing on the black on white back­ground as op­posed to the many lights, colours and sounds of your smart­phone be­fore bed has ac­tu­ally been proven to let you sleep bet­ter.

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