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read; reading; learn; learning; write; writer; letters; words; writing;


What is reading?

Reading means to interpret something that is written or printed. In other words you are trying to understand what the writer means.

reading a bookIf nothing is written then reading can't happen!

  • It is believed that around 50,000 BC people were using tally lines to keep count.
  • Then they started using pictures to show what they were counting.
  • Then they started using pictographs, which were simplified pictures to say how many, what goods and who made them and who delivered them and where they were from and….heaps of other stuff.
  • After a while it just got too hard to work out what all the pictures or symbols meant so they started using symbols for the sound of the language.

The present language of English is based on an alphabet of 26 letters.

bookWhen these letters are added together they make words.

  • There are 21 consonants, the hard sounding letters and 5 vowel sounds.

Using the vowels and consonants together can make all the sounds in our language and there are lots more than 26!

  • This is why it can be hard to learn how to read and even harder to learn how to spell!

Why reading is important

Reading is very important.

Why? Because reading is such a big part of our lives.

  • We read for information from dictionaries, instruction sheets, street directories, maps, forms, books, newspapers, computers and… the list goes on… and on….and on.
    reading about dinosaurs
  • We read for enjoyment from books, magazines, game sheets etc.
  • We read to understand, to communicate, inform and to enjoy in all areas of our lives.

When people first started writing there were very few people who could read or write. These people became very powerful because they had the secret!

Of course books were then written by hand so there weren't many of them and only rich people could afford them.

It's important to read because then you don't have to rely on others, you can find things out for yourself and choose what you believe.

What you can read

reading an 'amazing' bookWhen we are learning to read we usually use books.

  • You can start with very simple books, with a few words on each page, lots of pictures to help you and very few pages. As you get better at reading you move on to harder books with lots more words, fewer pictures and lots more pages.
  • But there are words all around you. Look at street signs, shop signs, advertisements, words in the supermarket, on the bus or train.

You can learn words all the time not just from books!

  • Most people use computers too. You need to be able to read to use a computer, even if it is only to find the name of a game you want to play.
  • Do you like comics and cartoons? They are fun, and often they will have words in a speech bubble so that you can tell what the character is saying.
  • You can read about other places and people around the world. You can read exciting stories and adventures.
  • You can read about anything from animals to xylophones in a library or on the internet.
  • You can use an e-book reader and carry hundreds of books around with you.

You can read wherever you are from a huge variety of written texts so there is bound to be something that is interesting to you.

(I love reading anything and everything! I have even been known to read labels on bottles of sauce!)

Some interesting stuff about reading

  • a monkMonks used to write all the books in the middle ages. They wrote on parchment with ink and used a feather sharpened to a point as a pen. These books were written in Latin, the language of the Church. The only people who could read Latin were other monks, priests and a few rich people.
  • Louis Braille was born in France in 1809. When he was three he lost his sight and was later sent to a school for the blind. He felt angry that he couldn't read so he invented the Braille alphabet. This uses groups of dots which stick up from a page to make the letters. A person who is blind can 'read' the dots to make the word.
  • Johannes Guttenberg from Mainz in Germany invented the first printing press in 1440. It used clay letters which were put together to make words then painted with ink and pressed onto a page. The first book he printed was the Bible. (The letters on the press were all back to front, a mirror image. Do you know why?)
  • Printing now uses computers and photocopiers. It is so much cheaper and easier that almost anyone can get books and learn to read.
  • Most newspapers have an online edition. You can read newspapers from anywhere in the world on your computer.
  • There are many languages in the world and many different alphabets too. If you were to look at something written in Mandarin (a language spoken in China) you would not be able to read any of the characters (letters).
  • English is written from left to right, but some other languages are written right to left (eg Hebrew - the language spoken in Israel) or from the top down (such as Mandarin). Japanese writing can be top to bottom (Tatagaki) or from left to right (Yokogaki).
    wonderful books

Dr Kim says

Dr Kim readingReading is wonderful for those who can read. What kind of stories do you like best?

Some people don't get the chance to learn to read because they don't have books, and don't get the chance to go to school where they live in the world.

Some kids do go to school but have problems learning to read. Our topic on Learning disabilities will tell you more about this.

this story is sooo good

I really like to read
to find things out about.
To lose myself in stories
shutting everything else right out.

To read about the past
and the future too.
To catch up on the news
and emails from you too.

I like to read of heroes
who have won against the odds.
Of dragons and of magic,
of battles and of gods.

I like that so few letters
make so many different words.
I like to learn of insects,
fish, animals and birds.

When I'm reading words
I see pictures in my head.
I can read a book most anywhere
even snuggled in my bed.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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