“He that loves reading has everything within his reach.” – William Godwin.
If anyone were to ask me what is the most effective learning tool available to students, my answer would be frequent reading. I can speak of this from personal and professional experience. Students can read traditional books or they can read online. In fact, online reading is growing by leaps and bounds these days.
Educational experts agree that there is a strong correlation between extensive critical reading and higher academic achievement. Eclectic and targeted reading both lead to significant acquisition of knowledge. Habitual readers develop their reading comprehension skills and derive greater meaning from the text. They get better at doing this with practice and at the same time they develop their higher order thinking and learning skills along with their understanding of abstract concepts. All of this helps to create a much better student in the long run.
Some time ago Forbes indicated that studies show that reading fiction increases the readers’ emotional intelligence. This then gives them a better understanding and management of themselves, people, and events in real life. Dan Hurley, in an article in theguardian (23 January 2014) “Can reading make you smarter?” and in his book Smarter affirms that reading can increase all three major categories of intelligence.
Let us consider some aspects of the power of reading in the academic lives of our students:
- Reading facilitates lifelong learning.
- It facilitates research and progress in any subject. Students can improve in their weak areas by reading.
- Literature and history teach human behaviour and enhance students’ social and emotional intelligence. They also teach analytical skills.
- Reading allows students to stay ahead of the class.
- Students are less dependent on the teacher. Reading gives new ideas.
- Research shows that reading improves students’ grammar, vocabulary, and use of language.
- It is good preparation for higher education.
- Reading develops the creative imagination.
- Students learn to select and summarize the important information in any text.
- Research has shown that regular reading stimulates improvement in logical thinking skills.
- Reading leads to improvement in all communication skills.
- Reading improves intelligence.
- Reading enhances memory.
Given all the positive points about the power of reading stated above, there can be no doubt that reading is a very powerful learning tool for all students. Parents and teachers must encourage students to read on a regular basis. All the information in the world is available in books and online. Teachers are no longer the main repositories of knowledge. Of course, students should seek help when they do not understand certain elements of what they are reading.
Finally, if students continue reading on a regular basis, most of them will discover at some point, that in addition to its utilitarian value, reading can be a source of great pleasure or satisfaction. When students reach this point in their intellectual development, the real power of reading becomes evident and they accept greater responsibility for their own academic and personal progress. Two tools that complement critical reading are effective summarization and concise note-taking in the students’ own words. This helps them to construct their own knowledge.