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 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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