Celebrating Early Reading

Early Reading

Image courtesy of Jomphong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why is reading so important and why should we get it right from the start? There is a very long but interesting article I read recently: “Why our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming” by Neil Gaiman. If you can’t get through all of it, then just read these bits…

The inverse relationship between reading and criminality:

“I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read. And certainly couldn’t read for pleasure.”

There is no such thing as a bad book for children:

“Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.”

Reading builds empathy:

“When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.”

Reading science-fiction builds creativity and innovation:

“I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.”

Physical books will always have a place in our world:

“Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them.”

Declining literacy is a problem in the younger generation:

“our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable.”

Reading to our children:

“We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.”

How reading makes our children intelligent:

“Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.”

I second that. Happy reading!

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Hamizah – Perhaps we can arrange something…

  2. Hamizah says:

    Thanks Shen Li! Really made my day.
    By the way, I would like to ask if any chance to get discount on Little Math.
    Thank you

  3. We had four extra entries who entered from my newsletter:
    – plphoon
    – Manorama Ukidve
    – Marina Darenskaya
    – lp_ming

  4. eal says:

    Signed up :d

  5. Hamizah says:

    Done 🙂
    Wish me luck.

  6. Signed up and liked! 🙂

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