Why read? Why do I need to read well? What is the purpose of reading? Over the years I have
talked with a good number of people who have no interest in reading, let alone reading well.
This generally surprises me, but perhaps it should not as everyone has a reason for not liking
to read or for loving the enjoyment of the written word.
I grew up living out in the country on a dirt road. Dad taught school and farmed. We rarely had
a working television. As a child, I though this was archaic, but it turned out to be such a
wonderful blessing. We somehow had a bookcase full of books. Old books, but books none-
the-less. I was in “bookworm” heaven! Since I was the oldest, I often had a younger sister or
brother tug on my sleeve and say, plaintively, “Can you read to me?” The dramatist in me was
delighted. Mom would find all four of us children sitting together on my bed upstairs, siblings
sitting with rapt faces as I dramatized the story from Grimm’s Fairytales or Anderson’s Fairytales.
This time together is what I hear the most about our childhood. We each still are voracious readers.
Now, back to the question of READING! WHO NEEDS IT? Reading opens up foreign shores; it
opens up ancient lands; it shares the lifestyle of people we could never meet; it widens our
horizons beyond the thirty-mile radius in which we live; reading shows us the past; it shows us
the possibilities of the future; reading allows us a respite from the work-a-day life we live; and
reading insures that we are well informed. Reading also brings respite to the
spirit and the mind. It is a vacation bound in a book of any size or shape or subject.
Why do I need to read well? Let me take the opposite viewpoint for a few seconds. Not being
able to read well puts limits on your ability to function and navigate well in the world around
you. Reading feeds your mind, your spirit, your intellect, your ability to share important
information. Simply put…reading well allows your world to be much larger than what you hear
or view on TV, radio, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube or other auditory outlets.
What is the purpose of reading? Have you ever wondered why an event in history has taken
place, or why Potato Bugs suddenly show up on your plants, or why or how or when… ? I
had little interest in history in high school. Boring! Or so I thought. Reading has opened the
doors to a myriad of topics. How does a Dyslexic person learn? Why did America ever get
involved in Viet Nam? Who started WW I ? Why did Nero burn his city down? How do I help
a child with ADHD? How can I make a new lining for a winter coat that shows no wear on the
outside? Read for information. Read for knowledge. Read for sheer enjoyment.
The great news is that we, at the Shawano County Literacy Council, are standing by ready to
help you or someone you know, to learn English better, to study and prepare for taking the
Citizenship Test, or to help in adult education to read and write better. Whatever it is that
you are preparing for or hoping to achieve, let us aid you on your way! Give us a call.
A bit about the author: Karen Milligan began teaching at 14 years of age when she was hired
to help with Summer School at a Four-room country school. She attended Bob Jones University,
graduating with a B.A. in Speech Education. She taught for several years and then earned a
Master’s Degree in Education. Teaching and sharing ideas and knowledge has been a life-long
pursuit of 40 years duration. Now, she enjoys tutoring privately and with the Shawano Literacy Council.
Other interests are gardening, walking, reading, sewing, Editing, drawing illustrations for
children’s books and dramatizing story-time for the children at her church.