The importance of reading is usually accepted by those who can read. It is interesting to see that the most visited page on our site is the "Why Is Reading Important?" page. Two of the three most popular key words used to find our site are: why is reading important and why reading is important. Many people seem to be wondering how vital reading is in our modern society.
Let's look briefly at the importance of reading in the four stages of life.
The first stage is birth through grade one. Studies show that a child develops 80% of the attitudes, values, fears, and loyalties that he will carry through life during this time. It is a tremendously important time in a person's life. Also it is the time of the greatest learning curve. A child is learning primary relationships, eating, balance [walking], language, and a hundred other foundational things. There is no reason why, when a person's mind is so open to learning, that they should not be taught to read. Public, and many private schools, try to teach children to read by the end of grade 3. Most children between the ages of 4 and 7 can learn to read very well and so ideally they should enter school already reading. [Note: If the school is not prepared to handle children who can already read, then other problems may develop; however, I do not believe holding a child back and limiting their potential is the right answer. We cannot downplay the importance of reading early just because others do not focus on it.]
The second stage is the mastery of academic subjects which is taught from grades two through grades 6. In the public, and many private schools, attention is switched from reading to other subjects at the end of grade 3. Any student who is struggling with reading at this point is a candidate for being left behind or put in a special education class when their only real problem is that they have not been taught to read [that's not their fault]. In any case, during this stage of learning students need to master reading, grammar, concrete math, and build on foundational knowledge.
The third state is from grades seven through twelve. It is during this period that students are introduced to more abstract concepts in their studies. Again, if they have not mastered reading and the concrete math facts by this time they are likely to struggle in all subjects.
The fourth stage is when they complete school. They can then apply all they have learned so far to further education or to life management skills. Lack of reading skills here can hinder employment, gaining new knowledge, relationships, and the pure pleasure of reading.
Reading is important and no one is too old to learn. Even if you are in the fourth stage, you can learn to read. If you have children above four years of age teach them to read. Certainly, if your children are in school and struggling with reading, get them help. The ability to read is the foundation on which all other subjects are based. After grade 3 they will become more and more lost academically if they can't read. The importance of reading must be a focal point in education.