Did you know that 76% of Americans reported that they only read one book in 2014? Did you also know that currently Americans only spend 7 minutes of their leisure time each day reading? Now the important question, do you think these statistics are alarming? A French novelist once said that to read is to live. However Americans seem to be living just fine without reading. Or are we? Employers report that they are having a hard time finding employees who are competent in written and verbal communication. Skills that are required in just about every job. These are skills that are linked to leisure reading. Actually studies shows that reading for fun is correlated with academic achievement as well as higher pay in later life. The Library of Congress released a study that found that those who read make an average of $850 more a week than those who don’t. Apart from these benefits there is still an even greater benefit to reading and that is the love of learning.
Choosing on your own to read a book causes you to explore the unknown. Whether you are reading fiction or nonfiction you are going to a place you have never been. Upon completing that adventure you will be filled with the desire to engage in another adventure. A great deal of our education has to come from some form of structured formal education. However our education should never be limited to the classroom. Ideally the structured education will lead to a desire to delve further through our own personal studies.
All the great men and women of history had a desire to read, to learn, explore, and question. Louis L’amor is a great example of this. He was an avid reader. He kept a record of all the books that he read each year. Just to give you an idea, in 1930 he recorded a total of 115 books. He would go on to write more than 100 books. Thomas Jefferson, like all the Founding Fathers, was also an avid reader. In fact after the Library of Congress was destroyed by the British, Congress bought the bulk of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library which totaled 6,487 books. These two examples are a bit extreme. L’amor read books at a rate of three days per book. And Jefferson’s library of over 6,000 books would be an unattainable goal for most Americans. Yet their example is inspiring. An organization called Reading is Fundamental shared the following ways parents can encourage their kids to read.
- “By far the most effective way to encourage your children to love books and reading is to read aloud to them, and the earlier you start, the better. Even a baby of a few months can see pictures, listen to your voice, and turn cardboard pages.”
2. “Simply having books, magazines, and newspapers around your home will help children view them as part of daily life. And your example of reading frequently and enjoying it will reinforce that view.”
3.“While your children are still very small, it’s a good idea to start a home library for them, even if it’s just a shelf or two. Be sure to keep some books for little children to handle freely.”
Books are powerful. They motivate, encourage, enlighten, educate, shape our character, and mold our views. That is why history is full of dictators who began their “careers” by destroying books. It’s ironic that in some countries learning is controlled by a dictator and in other countries it is ignored by the people. You have the world at your fingertips. You just have to decide to turn the pages.