To all readers and non-readers alike,
I know it is getting late but I just came across this article by Neil Gaiman (via Gaiman’s tumblr – which is an awesome site for anyone who likes to write, or anyone who likes Neil Gaiman) about why reading is still important in a digital age. I tend to roll my eyes at terms like “the digital age” (don’t get me started on millennials) but I do agree with what Gaiman says. And since it is Neil Gaiman, the article is really very well written.
Gaiman covers three points in his article – that reading is important, that libraries and access to a variety of literature is important, and that creativity, the ability to daydream, and the desire to come up with new ideas are all vitally important for our happiness and overall success – both for children and adults alike. Gaiman writes,
Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair.
Not that the ability to build a chair came directly from reading fiction, but reading, especially reading fiction, allows us to remove ourselves from our bodies in a way. It transports us to another place, another person, or another way of thinking. It broadens our minds and our imaginations. Another good quote:
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.
It is active. Even if you aren’t underlining or taking notes, which is what I think of as “active reading” (left over from my Middle School days), you are still building the world that you read about on the page. Two people could read the same book and have a completely different image of the world that they just read about, which, when I think about it, blows my mind a little.
And reading is good for you. I have read and written multiple papers in college about the positive effects reading to a child has on their social and mental development. It broadens minds and fosters relationships between the reader and the listener, and frequently helps with schoolwork. I could go on but I’m going to let Neil Gaiman take over.
Anyway, here is another link to the article. Couldn’t have said it better myself.