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Seelix's avatar

Literacy: what are your thoughts? (see details)

Asked by Seelix (14757 points ) June 27th, 2011

I’m just wondering what you think about reading, in general. Is literacy less important now that electronics are taking over?

If you’re a parent, do you (or did you) read to/with your kids? What kind of things do you read?

Did your parents read to/with you when you were young? Has this affected your reading habits as an adult? Are you a voracious reader, or have you not cracked a book since high school?

What kind of books do you think kids should be reading? Does it matter, or is the important thing the fact that they’re reading at all?

Any other topics regarding literacy are welcome; the above are just things I wonder about.

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42 Answers

redfeather's avatar

My parents always read to me, now I read at least a book a week, I try my hardest to read to my little one. I want her to love books as much as I do.

hermit's avatar

Nothing like holding a book in bed…the best feeling. Reading for your child is great. No doubt. My parents had never read me anyting and I became an avid reader by choice. I taugh myself English and other language also by choice.

If I were a parent, I would let my children to read anything; from literacy, history, science, travelling, finances (yes, as early as possible) books. Yes, I would let them to read and explore the world from reading. I think the best education always comes from reading. Learn from experience comes next etc.

Have fun reading literacy books with your child!

MilkyWay's avatar

Literacy : Very very important to me. I don’t think I could go without reading to be honest. I’d become really depressed.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I think literacy is even more important now that electronics are everywhere. To be able to use electronics – phones, computers, the internet – one needs a certain level of literacy. You can’t read an article on Cracked, or a webcomic on Cyanide and Happiness, or look up how to clean paint off concrete on eHow, without a certain level of literacy. And in fact, while Twitter and texting are often widely regarded as the death of the English language (and presumably, many other languages), it is the first time in history where the written word has been a primary form of communication for commoners on common things. Twitter has to be a social historian’s wet dream – really, think of all the primary sources for future historians studying this time period!! Electronics, and especially social networking, encourage literacy, not discourage it, and make reading “cool” for one of the first times.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

2 things:
1. Reading is uber super important to me and in my parenting. I hope for my kids to be the quiet awkward ones to be reading all day in the library, seriously.
2. Many people are illiterate, it has to do with disparities and that kind of thing shouldn’t be looked down upon.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

reading is phun
On a serious note, whenever I’m at a library, I try to get as many books as I can.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jailbait What role did your parents play in your passion for reading?

MilkyWay's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer My mum used to read to me every night. Till I was about 6.
Usually it was with pictures, but sometimes I just used to lie down in bed with her reading.
When I was 5, my dad brought me my first book, Black Beauty. Said I was gonna read it myself. Boy, did I have fun doing that.
It was amazing for me to read a book on my own. It felt special.
Still love that book :)

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’ve actually been wondering lately if there’s a connection between parents reading to their children and enjoying reading later in life. My parents read to me as a child (and continued until the day I moved out), and I love reading as an adult. But on the other hand, they did a lot of other things that didn’t stick; they discouraged watching tv and now I loooooooove tv and movies. So I don’t know if there’s really a connection, or if that’s all rather coincidental.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve hooked everyone of my nieces and nephews on reading before they were walking. It’s one of the earliest gifts I get for them, books, books, and more books.

marinelife's avatar

How could literacy be any less important? What has changed is the medium of reading not the need for the skill.

Yes, my parents read to me when I was a child as well as me seeing them reading.

Blackberry's avatar

Literacy is important to me. I read a lot when I was younger (because I was an only child), although I took breaks to be young, dumb, and party. What you read can make a difference (in my opinion). I don’t like reading anything other than non fiction, because I feel one should actually learn something if they’re going to take the time to read, but of course reading is also pleasurable for some.

Some people seem like they have no reason to read, but a good reading background can improve communication and wrting skills if you wanted to work in a field where those are important.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I actually don’t remember my parents reading to me. I remember reading by myself a lot when I was a kid.

Seelix's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir makes a very good point. It seems that illiteracy is often equated with low intelligence, which is definitely not the case. Not everyone is afforded the same opportunities that we’ve come to expect as the norm in the western world. Of course, I believe that everyone should learn to read; it’s unfortunate that in some societies that isn’t the case because of different education systems, et cetera. It’s my hope that, someday, every person will be taught to read as a child, and those that can’t read as adults will be able to seek help without feeling stigmatized.

@marinelife – I didn’t mean to imply that literacy is less important. It was just something that came to mind.

tom_g's avatar

Read to my daughter all the time since she was 6 months old at least an hour per day. Once she was 4 and was reading on her own, she was no longer seen without a book in her hand. At 8 years-old now we have to ask her to put her book down at the kitchen table. She reads while brushing her teeth, and I fight with her to go to sleep because she won’t stop reading and turn off her light.
I have read to my boys just as much, and they don’t seem all that interested. My 6-year-old still isn’t reading on his own.
Everyone is different and I suspect that parental involvement in encouraging reading may not be as important as most people think. I am not sure if my parents can read, yet they raised a couple of word-obsessed kids.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t remember my parents reading to me when I was young though they encouraged reading. I got picture books from our local library for my own kids when they were young and later they read books for themselves.

Literacy is no less important in the electronic age but it is sometimes difficult finding time to read.

dannyc's avatar

Literacy is the gateway to opportunity. Coupled with good writing skills, literacy is an unbeatable key to personal and societal success. Good writing is more in decline than simple literacy which, in the aggregate, is in ascendancy.

Cruiser's avatar

I read a TON as a kid, my mom had us in the Great Books program. I read to my boys every night until they were 11 ish. Early on we read the same books over and over as they loved certain books and had them memorized. Later on we would read the classics a chapter or 2 every night. Then when they were 4 I would have them read to me. We would take turns making up whacky voices and it taught them to have fun while reading this way!

Hibernate's avatar

I read a lot as a kid [ I still read but not that much ] .
Parents did not have time to read for me but my grandpa read a lot .

It’s easier to read electronic than books [ they way I see it ] .

Kids should read books that make them use their imagination .
[ though here I support more gaming .. they can see the world and evolve into it and their actions can influence the outcome not like in a book where things are not that flexible ] .

As a summary reading is good but one needs time and like any habits needs to evolve it . [ so to speak ] .

zenvelo's avatar

To answer the original question, I think literacy is even more important now. With media on both sides now very slanted (more than Hearst in the 1890s!) literacy is what helps you access a lot of different viewpoints and develop critical thinking skills.

I have always been a voracious reader, as is everyone else in my original family and both my kids. My mother read to me until I could read on my own, and then encouraged me to choose my own books and read to myself.

WasCy's avatar

Literacy is hugely important. Maybe more so in this age of electronics.

Literacy is part of the process of intelligent criticism. Even if everything you learn is read or narrated to you, and you don’t have to read independently, part of the critical thought process involves decoding exactly what is meant from what is said. That can’t be done well with anything more complex than, say, a political stump speech (and even then, being literate means that you can read beyond “the words” to “the meaning”). Obviously, if you plan to create some of the electronic content that others will be interpreting, narrating or just reading, then it’s vital to get your meaning expressed as close to perfectly as possible, so that you don’t need to issue revisions and corrections to the final product.

TexasDude's avatar

Reading is hugely important to me and it always will be.

My parents read to me from birth and I was a bit of a prodigy because I was reading on my own by the time I was reading books on my own by the time I was 2.

I read a book every two days or so, and I’ll often read 3 or 4 books simultaneously. Everything from history to technical manuals to theological books and young adult fiction. I’m also simultaneously writing four young adult novels.

When I have children, I’m going to try and instill in them the kind of appreciation for books that I have. I’ll read to them from birth… not just children’s books, but pretty much anything. It worked for me.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I think my generation probably reads more than previous generations. However, the quality of what we read is much lower. So many websites are just poorly written, and most of my friend’s reading is done on social networking sites. “O ur gr8 hes 2G2BT” does not actually increase our understanding of anything.

augustlan's avatar

I honestly don’t remember my mother reading to me, but our house was jam packed full of books and she was never without one. I think I absorbed it by osmosis or something. I could read at a very early age, and have never stopped. It’s a huge part of my life.

I did read to my children every day. Usually several times a day. They’re all huge readers, too. To a large extent, I don’t think it matters what kids read (as long as it’s age-appropriate). If reading Captain Underpants is enjoyable for a 12 year old, have at it! Their tastes evolve as they mature. My youngest is now 13, and (in my opinion) old enough to read any book on my own bookshelves now.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to navigate through life without being able to read. It has to be one of the biggest obstacles one could encounter.

augustlan's avatar

Also: [mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

Plucky's avatar

Reading is, and always has been, very important to me. I think the right to literacy belongs to everyone everywhere. I think more people read now than ever. However, the quality of the material is so much lower (especially online).

I was not read to as a child; nor was I encouraged to read. That did not stop me though. I was, and will always be, extremely curious.

If I had a child, I would read to them. I would start reading to them while they are in the womb. I would certainly try to read to them every night before bed. During the day, I would involve them in reading as well.

As for the material kids should be reading, I’m not entirely sure. I would use books that weren’t gender specific. I would also encourage books that portrayed all types of families, races and cultures. Books that encourage curiosity/thought would be high on my list as well.

Seelix's avatar

@augustlan – I love you for bringing up Captain Underpants. When I was working at a bookstore, I encountered many parents who wouldn’t let their kids read those books. Being that young boys generally are less apt to read for pleasure than are young girls, I thank Dav Pilkey from the bottom of my heart for coming up with such a great series.

I’ve also encountered a lot of parents who don’t want their kids reading comics or manga. I think that as long as the kids’ reading material is age-appropriate it doesn’t matter what they read! Most, if not all, comics and manga have an age rating on them, and books in stores and libraries are grouped by recommended age. I say let them read whatever they want – the more kids read, the more they’ll want to read.

josie's avatar

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to muscles. If people don’t do it, their mind gets weak and flabby.

flutherother's avatar

There is a very good article on books and reading here

GracieT's avatar

One of the things that I am the most proud of is passing along my love of reading. During the workday I baby-sat for the daughter of some friends while she was little. I would read to
her often, she would see me read
on my own, and she loved being taken to the library. I take great pride in the fact that she is an avid reader like I am. After her parents no longer needed a baby-sitter they would joke that they couldn’t take her to the library often enough. I take pride in that!

dabbler's avatar

I think reading is more important than ever for figuring out how those gadgets work !

However, all the things that reading gives us over other media, deep reasoning, deep thinking, are less valued than they used to be, less supported and recognized. Sadly neglected.

creative1's avatar

We have tons of books here and my daughter loves to pick out what books she wants me to read to her. She will even just come over to me and bring me a book to read her instead of playing. My girls love to be read to all the time and my older one has quite a few of our book memorized and tells me what is on each page as I am turning them. We also have these books with many childrens stories in each. We typically will read a few stories each night if she picks that book to be read to her and we do it until we finish the book.

Reading is really important to kids it helps them develop their own reading skills having been read to as a child. I want encourage as much learning as she wants and is able to take in.

anartist's avatar

Reading isn’t being threatened. The method for delivering the printed word is changing. Printing presses are giving way to electronic technology. I still love my books and have a huge library, but the printed word poses some threat to our natural resources.

I am still not comfortable with the ephemeral nature of having books on a kindle. What if I drop a kindle with 1000 books on it?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@anartist You have a backup on your computer?

wundayatta's avatar

You still can’t get along without being able to read. Information comes on video with people talking, but if you can’t read, you don’t know which videos to watch. And if you can’t type, you can’t find the videos you want.

everephebe's avatar

Well we’re talking about two different types of literacy right? Computer literacy and literary literacy. Simply put: they correlate; also, literacy is damn important.

✓ out this TEDtalk by
Sugata Mitra: Can kids teach themselves?
& this one, same guy.

Do you speak google?

rooeytoo's avatar

Literacy is more important than it ever was.

I don’t remember my father ever reading to me or seeing him read other than the newspaper. My mom occasionally would read Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me.

I read as a kid because I loved the adventures it took me on, took me away from the small town in which I was born.

Now I love to read on my Kindle or on the Kindle app on my iPhone. If I am not playing Angry Birds, I am reading! :-)

Seelix's avatar

It makes me happy to see how many of you are avid readers. Though I wouldn’t have expected otherwise from such a great group of Jellies :)

@anartist – Before I got my ereader, I felt the same way. Now that I have one, I love it so much. I can “borrow” books from the public library – up to 10 titles at a time for up to 3 weeks – without having to travel quite a ways to the library (the branch nearest me is quite small and not very well stocked). I can buy books without having to worry about where the heck I’m going to put them – space is an issue in my tiny apartment, and I already have hundreds of books that I couldn’t bear to part with and pack away (there are hundreds more packed in boxes at my parents’ house back home).

Of course, I still buy print copies of books by my favourite authors. If I ever get the chance to meet them, it’s pretty tough to have them sign an EPUB. But I feel the same way about my ereader as I feel about my iPod. It’s handy, I back up everything on my computer, and it makes my life a little easier.

WasCy's avatar

Im abig fan of literasy. I read like alot and its important 2 me 2 b able to read and rite good.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Mom and an older sister used to read to me at bedtime. Teachers up through second grade read to us during class. Our house was filled with books from all genres, television was restricted, and computers did not exist yet. Mom and I went to the library every week.

What was read? Fantasy, like the Oz series, The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as science fantasy by Madeleine L’Engle. I gravitated to historical biographies as well. At home, hours were spent reading bits from a set of encyclopedias, mythology books, Nancy Drew mysteries, and some classics from a brother’s collection.

Everyone in our family is a reader. We used to vacation every year at the beach, and most of our days were spent camped out under a cabana with books or magazines in hand. The subjects ran a pretty wide spectrum. So, to answer your question, no, I don’t think it really matters what is read, as long as it is well-written.

My SO’s family, on the other hand are different. His siblings and their children do little reading. If it is any indication, it shows in their writing skills. He has always read voraciously, and it shows in his talented writing skills, despite not having a formal education past high school.

What would be an interesting question is how what you read as a child impacted your life.

GracieT's avatar

Because I have an iPad, I am able to have a Kindle, a Nook, an iBook reader, and a few others. I still keep many paper books because none of these will ever replace paper. The problem that I have is the sheer number of books that having an iPad has enabled me to have. Because it is so easy to buy new books I do. I am an eclectic reader, and having an iPad has enabled me to aquire many more books on a wider variety of topics than I would have otherwise.

Ron_C's avatar

I gave you a GQ because this is an important question even if it’s a year old. Reading and math are the most necessary skills for this day and age and far into the future. We read to our children, our children read to their children. Our children and grandchildren could read when they entered 1st grade, actually before kindergarten. Even with electronic medium, you must still have the ability to read and understand to further your education and professional life.
Reading ability is necessary as a prerequisite for writing. The ability to read, write, and understand math are the determiners for success in the modern world.

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