Dana Gioia wrote in June 2006 wrote that “something fundamentally intellectual and spiritual…happens to readers through the combination of the sustained focused attention that you bring to reading, the use of your imagination…and also your use of memory.”
Reading requires “muscles” that are never developed in passive activities such as watching TV and other forms of media. Reading is a distinctively imaginative activity since books require the transformation of type into ideas and mental pictures.
Reading also helps develop critical thinking skills. By reading, one becomes acquainted with an array of ideas and possibilities that are only available in that way. The reader becomes aware of the complexity of social, economic, spiritual, financial, and environmental issues.
By reading a person is freed from the limitations of only one point of view because s/he is not dependent on whatever a particular political party or car manufacturer or even a church chooses to “push” through commercials or other propaganda sources. A reader can draw from a multitude of sources and form enlightened conclusions.
People who don’t read are like a man locked in a room who assumes that what he observes in the room is the limit of all experience. In this case the room stands for the limitation of knowledge and prejudice.
The Letters to the Editor section of the local newspaper often demonstrates how myopic non-readers are.
A democracy depends on readers. It is through reading, and examination, that we learn what our leaders know and don’t know and what informs their decisions. It is through reading that we learn how
to engage our communities and make them better places to live.
In the final installment of Reading Is Fundamental, “How does reading impact faith development?”