Why Reading is Important

Have you ever felt a little ping of sadness when you’ve finished reading a really good book? Have you sailed the seven seas and soared through new and uncharted lands? When was the last time you escaped to a whole new world?

Reading can take you to places you’ve never been, never even conceived of in your mind; but why does it feel like the beautiful experience of reading seems to be diminishing in this world, or at least in the U.S.?

Technology continues to advance and become bigger and better than ever, new “things” just keep coming out. I say “things” because that’s really what they are: things we want but don’t need, things that are expensive but lack in quality, things that will make us happy for a short period of time before we’re ready for the newest and latest thing.

But books are timeless. They have been around for hundreds of years, perhaps even thousands in their own form, and yet it seems like all kids, teens, and even some adults care about are the things they can have right now, something to distract them for a few moments before they move on to the next thing.

When I was younger, I loved to read. We didn’t have tablets, computers were giant and chunky machines, and cell phones were only used for the purpose of calling people. Books were an escape, as they still are, from the world and the troubles of the day. I remember reading Stellaluna and how cute I thought the little bat was and what it would have been like to have been her.

Even watching TV shows was a reading experience: with shows such as Wishbone and Reading Rainbow it was easy to dive into the worlds that were presented to me and want to know more about them.

Today it doesn’t seem as if these types of shows exist anymore. There are kids’ shows that teach important moral values and all that, sure, but there doesn’t seem to be anything on reading.

I recently saw a commercial on Disney Channel with Debbie Ryan talking about the importance of reading. It was just a short 30 second commercial, but does it make an impact? There was also a commercial with Bella Thorne talking about her dyslexia and how she read to overcome it, now being able to read a year above her grade level. I often wonder if these types of commercials impact kids, and if they do, do they implement the message that they’re sending? Do they take the time to sit down and read?

Could it be that the pressure of reading books that, frankly, aren’t all that great in middle and high school deterrents from enjoying reading outside of the classroom? I know that’s a big factor for me, personally. If I’m “forced” or “required” to read something, I oftentimes don’t enjoy it. Sometimes I don’t even read it or have such a revulsion to it that I shudder whenever I hear the name of the book (especially if it’s turned into a movie).

Reading can take you on a whole new journey, though. Books can take you to new worlds, introduce you to new and weird creatures, and even bring you back in time. There’s so much wonderful potential books hold, so why not do it?

Here’s my challenge for you: pick up a book. Just one. Make sure it’s something that sounds interesting to you, something that you feel you’d enjoy. Don’t pick a school book, pick a book for fun. Now read it from cover to cover, take the time to let the words soak in to you. Don’t just hurriedly read through it just to get it done; take your time. If it takes a few days, a week, or even a month, just read it.

If you’ve never enjoyed picking up a physical book, there are other options: audiobooks and ebooks are two different ways to explore new worlds. I had a classmate a semester ago who rekindled her love for reading through audiobooks. She hated to read growing up, but now she can’t stop and has to read every night before going to bed. eBooks are also a great way to read because you can hold literally thousands of books on one device and read whatever and whenever you want without having to worry about a physical book taking up space on a shelf or desk.

Reading is so important. If we didn’t read, we most likely wouldn’t be able to hold jobs (including in writing – reading helps to form your own style by picking up the styles of authors you’ve read), help others, find where we need to go, or escape from this ever stressful world. So pick a book and start reading. You may just find that you love it.

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