Why is Reading Important?


“The more you read, the more things you know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

The above is a famous quote by Dr Suess. And it’s 100% accurate.

The word “read” means:  understand the meaning of written or printed words or symbols (Oxford South African Dictionary).

I often find when meeting with parents, especially of children aged 9/10, and express my concern about their child’s reading ability and comprehension, I am greeted with “but they’re so young, give them a chance.”  When a teacher shows concern in this area, it is with due cause, as Reading is fundamental in helping us find and convey information and a necessary skill that is developed at a very young age.

In which areas of our lives is reading important?

  • It helps you to discover new things by enabling you to educate yourself in any area of life you are interested in and to do your own research and thinking.
  • It helps develop the mind and imagination and the creative side of a person.
  • It helps to improve (vocabulary and spelling) communication both written and spoken.
  • It plays an important part in building a good self-image.
  • It is a function that is necessary in today’s society.

In order to accomplish success one needs to have good reading and comprehension skills. Without these skills children will struggle to grow academically as reading is the foundation to all academic subjects such as History, Mathematics and Science and also influences the child’s ability to write.

Problems with reading are often identified or become a real issue in Grade 4. Why? It is at this stage of their academic lives that children become responsible for the material they read. They are required to find information through reading more independently.  An example would be reading a source document with comprehension in History. The CAPS syllabus requires the child to read a source document and then answer related questions using knowledge gained from studying. They are sometimes required to write a comparison between two sources. This starts at Grade 4 level.  If the child is unable to read effectively this is often the time they struggle and reading becomes a problem. This needs to be addressed immediately – refer to my article “Does your child hate school? It could be a learning disability.” Dated: April 15, 2015 to determine why your child is struggling to read and what plan of action needs to be taken.

So, what is the difference between a “passive” unskilled reader and an “active” skilled reader? A skilled reader interacts with the text.  How?

Some ideas, as set out by the Miami University, of how skilled readers read:

  • Predict what will happen next in a story using clues presented in text.
  • Create questions about the main idea, message, or plot of the text.Monitor understanding of the sequence, context, or characters.
  • Clarify parts of the text which have confused them.
  • Connect the events in the text to prior knowledge or experience.

Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension is the ability to understand a written passage of text. Basically:  “Did you understand what you have read?” It is the bridge between the passive reader and active reader. It is the crucial link to effective reading which is essential for a rich academic, professional and personal life.

Reading fluency is a very important part of reading comprehension as readers who spend their time decoding words tend to lose the understanding of what is being read. If your child is still decoding at Grade 3 level it is vital to return to the basic mental tools that create a solid cognitive foundation in order to establish successful reading comprehension. These cognitive skills include attention, auditory analysis, sound blending, memory, processing speed and visual perception.

A lack of strong reading comprehension skills definitely affects a child’s success at school as academic progress depends on understanding, analysing and applying information gathered through reading.

Strategies to Aid Reading Comprehension Skills

  • Reading with a purpose
  • Learning vocabulary
  • Retelling what has been read
  • Asking and answering questions
  • Summarising the important facts

Reading is important because words are the building blocks of life. Reading is a non-negotiable in life.

What strategies do you use to get your child to read? Post your comments, suggestions and questions below.

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About the Author

Adele Keyser has 27 years experience in teaching pre-primary, foundation phase, intermediate-senior phase and adult education. That's 27 years experience in dealing with children (and parents!). Currently teaching in Cape Town, her major focus is building classroom environments that foster healthy self-esteem and help children realise what they're capable of.


  1. Mbalenhle

    I am so touched about this email, as my son is in grade 7 he still struggles to read and spell words in a way that a certain school is refusing to take him for interview after his interview as he struggled to read a comprehension that was given to him. Please assist, how can I help him to overcome this? I am very worried!

    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Mbalenhle

      Thanks for your message.

      We are glad to hear that you found some value from this blog post.

      Learning to read is a challenge for many kids, but most can become good readers if they get the right help. Parents have an important job in recognizing when a child is struggling and knowing how to find help.

      A good place to start, would be to make an appointment to speak with your child’s teacher. The best thing that can happen is for parents and teachers to begin talking together to plan ways to help a child overcome or cope with his or her reading difficulties. You can be supportive at home while the teacher can accommodate your child’s needs and work to increase his or her skills in the classroom. Together you can make sure the help a child receives out-of-school meshes with what’s happening in school. When you meet, ask questions such as:
      – Do you think my child is having trouble with reading?
      – What specific trouble is my child having?
      – What can I do to help my child at home?
      – What can be done to help my child in class?
      – Which reading group is my child in?
      – How is he or she doing compared to other students?

      If the teacher is unable to assist, or thinks that your child may need an assessment, ask the school for an evaluation. You can write a short letter to request that the school’s specialists review your child’s progress, they will determine whether a child should be checked for speech or language delays, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, or other conditions that may be affecting how your child learns. If it is determined that your child needs extra help or a short intervention, the school may be able to provide this either in the child’s regular classroom or with a remedial specialist at the school.

      Note: Do make sure that your child is evaluated in his or her strongest language. It is important that your child is tested in the language he or she knows best. The purpose of such testing is to find out whether a child’s reading problem is due to second language learning, language delay, or a learning disability.

      If the school will not evaluate your child, or they evaluate your child and you think you need a second opinion, consider going to a specialist outside of the school. They can do an “independent education evaluation.” There will likely be a fee, however.

      You could also take a look at some more of our blog posts on reading and how to improve reading skills, you can find these articles here:

      I hope this helps. Please let us know if you’d like more information or tips on how to address reading difficulties at home, we’ll be happy to help.

      Kayleen 🙂

  2. Isaac A. Engel

    Thank you very much for this excellent article. I am an Afrikaans Language High School teacher. If only all parents of primary school learners could have read this important information. It is indeed heart-breaking for a gr 8 learner to come here and struggle to read.


    Reading problems can partly be contributed by the poor orientation to the learners.Some learners fail to catch up with the rest of their fellows as they join the school late.When they join late they find others have gone so far.As a result they do not much and hence they develop fear.

    Special treatment should be established to them in order to orient them gradually until they master the basic skills for reading.

  4. Cindy

    I believe reading should take place at an early age WHereby a child will be equipped with solid foundation of literacy

    • Ross Frank

      Hi Cindy! Thanks so much for your comment! I couldn’t agree with you more! When children learn to read at an early age, they have greater general knowledge, expand their vocabulary and become more fluent readers.

      Early readers can also recognize a larger number of words by sight, which enables them to learn more from and about their environment.

      Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

  5. Maureen Ngcobo

    I have created a colourful welcoming reading area with different size books , magazines . I put flashcards and alphabetical chart n even words they appear on our daily lives so this help me to encourage them to read

    • Ross Frank

      Hi Maureen! Thanks for your comment! That’s a great idea, thanks for sharing! Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

  6. Eli Mcmullen

    You make a good point when you mention how reading can help people improve vocabulary when speaking and writing. I have noticed that my sister’s vocabulary is causing her to struggle in school, especially when she tries to write essays. Maybe it would be best for her to start reading more books to help her develop an advanced vocabulary.

    • Ross Frank

      Hi Eli! Thanks so much for your comment! If practiced correctly, reading books and novels suiting your sister’s level can accelerate vocabulary-building, improve grammar, and sharpen writing. Although reading doesn’t directly impact your spoken English, it can to some extent improve it through better vocabulary, reading out loud, and a deeper knowledge base. I hope this helps.

      Ross 🙂

  7. Darrien Hansen

    I love that you brought up how reading can help develop your mind to be more creative and assist you is becoming more imaginative. My brother would like to write a fantasy novel someday, but his ideas seem to be dry and uncreative since he didn’t enjoy reading as a child. Perhaps introducing him to some new books could help him come up with more creative ideas for his novel.

    • Ross Frank

      Hi Darrien! Thanks for your comment! Research has shown that reading is key to boosting our own mental capacity and creativity. Introducing your brother to some new books will definitely spark some creativity for his novel.

      You can read through this article on exactly how reading inspires creativity: https://thatistheday.com/reading-will-inspire-creativity/

      I hope this helps.

      Ross 🙂

    • Ross Frank

      Hi Rajan! Thanks for your comment and for sharing the article! Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

  8. Mei

    Hello! May I ask what year did you published this article? If it’s okay I’ll include it as one of my references in my research. Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Ross Frank

      Hi Mei! Thanks for your comment on our blog!

      Sure no problem! The article was posted in 2017.

      I hope this helps!

      Ross 🙂


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