Reading is the key to understanding our past and present


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During this COVID-19 lockdown period, there have been conversations about true and unfiltered history. What is the truth? And where can we find it? Understanding history enables us to interpret and understand the present. Reading is the key to understanding our past and present.


Why reading is key for understanding


Reading gives people the ability to understand and interpret information. It helps preserve, share, and teach ideas so people can better understand the world around them.


A study conducted by Bernice E. Cullinan from New York University on independent reading touched on the importance of reading and the knowledge gained from it.


She notedIndividuals read to live life to its fullest, to earn a living, to understand what is going on in the world, and to benefit from the accumulated knowledge of civilization. Even the benefits of democracy and the capacity to govern successfully depend on reading”.


This shows that reading is a gateway to understanding the world around us and why it functions the way it does. The better we understand our world, the more we can gain from it. It allows us to further grasp our place in society.



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Reading educates us about history


Reading uncovers the truth and allows people to educate themselves about the past to develop compassion and understanding of people in the present. Looking back and reading about history gives people an insight into the foundations of today’s world.


Reading also allows us to understand why people think and act in certain ways.


In an academic paper on why history matters, Professor Penelope J Corfield explains the importance of understanding links between the past and present to understand the condition of being human. Communities speak languages inherited from the past. They live in societies with complex cultures, traditions, and religions that were created over time, so learning about history is crucial. Reading is an important key to understand how our past and present are vitally linked.



Illiteracy is an obstacle to understanding the world


Unfortunately, in many corners of the world, illiteracy rates are still high. Many people do not have access to books and therefore, cannot discover and educate themselves on basic matters such as the history of their countries, but this can change!


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Organizations such as the World Literacy Foundation (WLF) support less fortunate children who can’t read or write and also have limited access to books. WLF empowers children through literacy and education to open a world of better opportunities in life.  Reading will give them the key to understanding our past and present.





Together, we can all make a difference to improve the wellbeing and future of many generations to come.


Discover how you can get involved: World Literacy Foundation

Written by: Alexandra Akinchina


  • Cullinan, Bernice. “Independent Reading and School Achievement.” School Library Media Research: Research Journal of the American Association of School Librarians, Vol 3, 2000 http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites
  • Corfield, Penelope,  2007. All People are Living Histories – Which is why history matters: A conversation-piece for those who ask: Why study History?”  https://www.academia.edu