Why does your support of literacy matter?

“Reading makes you smarter,” says Keith Stanovich, a psychologist at the University of Toronto.  And, he has shown experimentally that this claim applies to children as well as adults. Teaching children to read not only gives them access to knowledge from print, but also makes them better able to use that knowledge. Children who read store up background knowledge about the things they read about, whether it be nature, science, history, current events, or geography (Stanovich, 1992).

Having background knowledge helps readers make sense of the new things they read (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). Children who read gain bigger vocabularies, too (Smith, 1997), and having bigger vocabularies enables them to notice things (Brown, 1955) and to make finer distinctions in their perceptions of the world (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002).

Literacy helps children to think in more sophisticated ways. Studies have shown that reading proficiency makes profound differences in people’s reasoning, their awareness of language, their understanding of themselves, and even their ability to formulate questions and learn about things they didn’t know (Luria, 1976). Children who read and talk about books with others show greater self-awareness and critical thinking (Almasi, 1995), tend to engage ideas more deeply (Eeds & Wells, 1989; Goatley, Brock, & Raphael, 1995), and are more likely to perceive themes in stories; that is, they are more likely to get the message (Lehr, 1991).

Among adults, literacy is associated with better health, greater job opportunities, and higher incomes (Policy Almanac.org, 2002; US Department of Health and Human Services, 2006). Surveys show that people who can read and write well tend to have a wider range of options in life.

Please lend your support to the work of Columbus Literacy Council and help create generations of literate families in Central Ohio.