Why we all need to read

Liseuse by Charles de Steuben (1788-1856)
If I had an addiction it would be books and reading.

I love books.
I buy books.
I own too many books.
I lend books to friends.
I love to read books. 

My books are loved and well read. 

Reading came late to me, I started at the age of 12.  But don't worry, I caught very quickly and overtook my school friends. I was just delayed. Not because my parents didn't read to me. They did . . . lots of wonderful stories and poems. I come from a home full of books and I have past on that love to my sons.  Reading allows you to escape and travel the world from the comfort of your lounge chair. It allows you to explore ideas (big or small). It allows you to meet interesting people who have been dead for centuries. It allows you to run away into your mind. I couldn't imagine living in a world without books and reading. 

But reading isn't all about books . . . we need to have the skill of reading to find employment . . . to pay our bills . . .  to buy the groceries . . . to obtain a mortgage to buy a house . . . to bake a cake . . .  to teach our children.  Reading is a core skill that we all need. BUT . . .

just under half (46%) of adult Australians cannot confidently read newspapers, follow a recipe, make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle (2006 National Australian Bureau Statistics Literacy Survey)

This is a horrifying statistics - half of our adult population cannot read adequately.  Shameful to say the least.  

If they can't read a recipe or a newspaper, they cannot partake of one of life’s great joys – a ‘good read’ as I love to do and how sad is that.

Why has this happened . . . there are many factors contributing to this and the answer isn't straight forward.  I don't think it is simply the fault of goverment (over many years), I think the family (our first connection to books) plays a vital part in introducing a child to reading and creates the bond that lasts forever.  In the Australian Longitudinal Study of Children, those children who were read to often were far more likely to enjoy reading than those who were read to occassionally.  Higher education of the parents also made a differences (this may be linked to the higher incomes that parents with degrees earn and therefore able to access more resources), however, whether a mother worked or not, played very little in the outcome. But not surprising, two parent families saw a greater percentage of children reading for leisure compare to one-parent families. Children who watch TV have less time for leisure reading as would be expected.  And, as we all know, trips to the library creates a positive relationship with books. 

Basically as parents we need to read to our children, surround our children with books and languages and encourage them to love books so they grow up to become adults who can read. It is a life skill that is complete necessary.


  1. Maybe there's a connection between reading, or as a three year old being read to, and a child's mental health!!! (as in your previous post) Maybe the government should be screening adults for mental health issues and not three year olds in light of todays post!!!

    1. Perhaps - if some of these non-reader are bringing up children little wonder we have some problems.

  2. Wow, what a terrible statistic! Almost unbelievable in such a modern civilisation... And yet on the other hand, it doesn't surprise me at all. People are gravitating away from reading, and I have no idea why. Words are one of the keys to life (in my opinion!), and I cannot imagine not being able to read. I wonder why people don't want to be able to read? Are we returning to a dark ages, like I've been suspecting for awhile??

    1. Some of these people would be older Australians who perhaps got a very poor education - my dad had to leave school at age 12 (but he is an avid reader thanks to my mum).

      I think one of the reasons why people perhaps aren't reading as much as reading takes time and they are too busy watching TV, going out with mates, playing computer games etc... to read a book requires dedication and time, perhaps people just don't want to invest in that sort of commitment.

      Its hard to imagine going though life with only basic reading skills - I would want to improve myself.

  3. I was read to as a child and I have in turn read to my children ~ A LOT! Still, not all of mine are readers. The statistics don't suprise me so much now as they might have when I was at high school. There was no one in my class who couldn't read.(That I was aware of)

    1. It is true - not all children exposed to books like to read, but at least most can read. My youngest son isn't a big reader, but he likes to own books and loves to look at books on things like fish or music.

      I was a very late reader due to the difficultly of reading and the way I was taught, but then one day it all clicked and I haven't stopped since.

  4. Hi Joluise,
    I come from a family of readers, and I would be lost without books. My children were read to,and encouraged to read aloud to each other. I have two who love reading and two who are not interested.
    Have a good week
    Barb from Australia

  5. I saw a beautiful thing in the children's section of the bookstore awhile back. A small child asked his Dad to read him a story, and the father replied " I can't." Yes, you can! the child confidently replied. Slowly and laboriously his Dad began to read the child's book aloud. The boy snuggled in closely for the story. It made my day!

    1. That is a beautiful story :) A child doesn't really care how a parent reads, as long as they give it a go - children aren't critical when there is love involved.


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