Why Do We Read? - Purposes & Advantages

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Whether you like it or not, reading is a skill we each use on a daily basis. READ this lesson to discover the many advantages of reading as often as you can.

The Purpose of Reading

Reading is more than just a pastime for bookworms. In fact, even those who claim to hate reading are actually doing it every day. A work email, text message, street sign, or even a status on Facebook all require you to read.

Having many forms of text also means that there are many reasons to read. Written language originated to expand communication. Think of all the written messages you receive on any given day. Emails, text messages, and social media posts are just a few examples. In addition to communication, many people read to learn information or facts, to be entertained, or to understand other cultures or groups. The rest of this lesson details some major advantages of reading often.

Further Your Understanding

One advantage of reading is to gain a more thorough understanding of the characters or the story. If you are reading for entertainment, you want to fully comprehend the action of the story and the characters. As an example, let's compare the two versions of The Hunger Games: the movie and the book. Both follow Katniss Everdeen as she strives to survive a brutal fight to the death in a post-apocalyptic world.

In the movie, Katniss finds water immediately upon entering the Games. However, in the book, she searches unsuccessfully for days for water and nearly dies of dehydration. At first, she cannot understand why her mentor, Haymitch, will not send her water. Eventually, she realizes his lack of help is actually an indication that she is close to it. She then travels a little further to finally find the much needed water. From this moment on, the unspoken communication between Katniss and Haymitch is of utmost importance. It even continues in the two sequels. By having Katniss find water immediately in the movie, this aspect of their relationship was removed entirely. You only get this deeper understanding of the characters by reading the novel.

Even the mockingjay pin is more thoroughly explained in the text

Reading Comprehension

A second advantage has to do with reading comprehension, which encompasses the skills needed to understand the meaning a text. Reading is pointless unless you gain some understanding of the text. Be it for entertainment, learning, or communication, you need to be able to comprehend what you read. The more you read, the more your reading comprehension will improve.

Think again of all the things you read in any given day. Social media forums like Facebook and Twitter depend entirely upon short written communications. What if you misunderstood a person's status update? Depending on who posted, it might cause you a lot of frustration! Furthermore, works of fiction are used to send messages or make points. Novels and short stories will have a theme or a lesson to be learned, and poems will express the author's feelings. You cannot hope to understand those messages without reading comprehension skills. If you push yourself to read more challenging material, then you will gain skills that will help you better understand other forms of text.


Another advantage of reading is that it expands your vocabulary. As you read, you will come across words you may not know. Your subconscious mind will automatically try to assign a meaning to that word using the information that surrounds the unknown word. The hints in the text that indicate what a word means are called context clues.

When you read more often, you will eventually make conscious efforts to understand any unfamiliar words. You will start to look for the context clues and be able to identify them more accurately. The wider the variety of reading materials to which you are exposed, the more words you will learn, thus expanding your vocabulary. Finally, as you learn more words, you will start to use a wider variety of words in your own speech and writing. Overall, reading has a large impact on a person's lexicon, or a person's vocabulary.

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