Issue No. 34
The Value of Reading
I. Why Important
II. The Value of Reading
III. Developing the Habit of Reading Wisely
IV. Choosing Good Books
V. Beware of Excessive and Useless Reading
VI. Teaching Children the Habit of Reading
Reading is an indispensable part of growing towards maturity in modem life. Persons who do not read limit themselves, and they have little advantage over an illiterate person. Reading widens and deepens the mind and the soul, it immeasurably adds to our learnings from experience or reflection. The habit of reading must be inculcated in children from a young age. Then they acquire an invaluable tool that will enable them to discover priceless treasures in life.
1. Learning the Wisdom of the Past
Wisdom and maturity are often not learned from schools or from our elders or from our social environment. Our surroundings often but reflects the attitudes and traditions of the past, and hence we become prisoners of the past. Reading brings to our fingertips the wisdom of the ages, from all cultures and time. It is the most inexpensive way of learning about life, and the most efficient way of absorbing the accumulated learnings of the past.
Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting. —Aldous Huxley
2. It prepares us better for our life work — No single teacher can teach us everything about our work, profession or life mission. Books are the best ways of improving ourselves in whatever life work we choose.
3. It brings joy and meaning — Reading opens up new worlds that bring joy, excitement, and meaning, which may not be possible in the environment which we find ourselves in.
If you don’t have the habit of reading regularly, here are some suggestions:
1. Start with Light Reading — Such as the Reader’s Digest or even abridged editions of good books for children, such as Heidi. You can even start with some wholesome comic books, such as Casper, or those classic works in the form of comics. Allow your interest to be aroused naturally.
2. Read Regularly — Before bedtime, read even for ten minutes every night. This will grow to become a regular habit.
3. Discuss What You Read — Share with others the insights you have gained — with your husband, wife, children or friends.
4. Reflect on What You Read — Reading itself will be of limited value if we do not reflect on them. Think whether you agree or disagree with what you read, consider its implications, whether you should act on it or not, whether you can apply it in your life affairs.
There are millions of books in the world, and we have only very little time. Hence it is obvious that we must be very selective in choosing the books we will devote our time to. Our choice of titles will vary from person to person, but here is a suggested way of classifying them.
1. Books for General Knowledge. — This helps in acquiring liberal education, that is, a good general information about life and the universe. Young people should be exposed to wide knowledge, whether science, art, humanities, history, etc. This will give them a good background of human knowledge necessary for a mature and balanced life. Children’s books with questions and answers about various things are helpful. Even almanacs, Guinness Book of World Records, encyclopedias, are sources of general knowledge.
2.Specialized Knowledge — Each one of us have our specialized career that we must be good at. Here we must read as widely and keep updated.
3. Lire Wisdom — This is the category of books or reading materials that will help us live life wisely, that is, how to handle anger, worry, sorrow; how to improve interpersonal relationships; how to improve character. These are essential readings for everyone because these are vital learnings that are not taught in school.
4. Recreational — These are leisure readings, such as fiction, poetry, magazines, etc. Since most people have limited time for fiction, it is best to choose the best reading. Go through a list of books that have stood the test of time, and selected some of them for your recreational reading list. They are well-recommended not only because they are well written, but they have depth and message. Sensational literature can absorb us temporarily, but they are not always edifying.
5.Spiritual — There are individuals who appreciate the importance of the world beyond the day-to-day preoccupations in our lives. They are interested in the meaning of life, the transcendent, the destiny of mankind, the pursuit of true happiness, the existence of God, etc. To them we recommend the study of a class of writings that belong to many cultures and ages that touch on the essence of spirituality rather than mere religiosity. It has a wide range. examples of which are The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Avila. Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill. Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley, The Ancient Wisdom by Annie Besant, the works of Thomas Merton, D. T. Suzuki on Zen, etc. Through these writings, we begin to better understand the essential teachings of the great religions of the world, and be able to distinguish between what is essential and what is not. It prevents religious superstition, narrowness and bigotry, and opens up a world of divine realization.
While reading is an excellent habit, indiscriminate excessive reading can be a form of escape. H.P. Blavatsky once wrote that for every minute we spend reading, we must reflect ten times as much. Carlyle wrote that the end of life is not thought, but action. Read with a purpose. As much as possible, link what is learned to daily life, and explore the significance of what has been read.
Avoid also useless reading. Some people spend more than an hour each day reading newspapers, including gossip columns, announcements of debuts, and other inconsequential items. Be clear as to what is important to know, and browse through the paper to find out if there is anything worth knowing for the day. Read them and skip the rest. This is true also for magazines and periodicals.
While it is possible to develop the habit of reading at any age, it is best to develop or acquire while we are young. Hence it is best that this habit be encouraged in the home. Here are some suggestions:
1. Parents should set the example — Children do what their parents do. If the parents are often seen to be reading, it is almost inevitable that the children will also acquire this habit.
2. Go the bookstore regularly and allow children to choose their own books as a gift from you. Young kids can start with picture books. Build your own home library.
3. Read with your young children if they still cannot do it by themselves. They will discover that within those pages are found wonderful adventures and interesting information that they will be motivated to want to read. These first impressions about the magic inside those pages will have a lasting effect on them. Make it fun, rather than a drudgery.
4. Discuss at dinner time about the things you or your children have read and learned from your readings. Help them realize the relevance or significance of these new learnings. Make a game out of general knowledge, such as "What is the tallest mountain in the world?" "What is the largest animal on earth?" etc. Children like to discuss these things, and they become motivated to read.
Be as careful of the books you read as the company you keep. Your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as by the latter. - PAXTON HOOD
Books are no substitute for living, but they can add immeasurably to its richness. When life is absorbing, books can enhance our esnse of its significance. When life is difficult, they can give us momentary release from trouble or a new insight info our problems, or provide the hours of refreshment we need - MAY HILL ARBUTHNOT
Reading is a habit. Once you‘ve gal the habit you never Jose it. But you must somehow be exposed to reading early enough in life to have it become part of your daily routine, like washing your face or breathing. — Richard L. Tobin
A book may be as great a thing as a bottle, —Benjamin Disraeli
Without the love of books the richest man is poor; but endowed with this treasure of treasures, the poorest man is rich. He has wealth which no power can diminish; riches which are always increasing; possessions which the more he scatters the more they accumulate; friends which never desert him and pleasures which never die. —Leon Gutterman
The books that help you most, are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of/earning is that of easy reading, but a great book that comes from a great thinker/s a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty. —Theodore Parker
Without good reading, human growth is slow at best. Without human growth, no civilization can long survive. —Roderick L. Haig-Brown
Never read any book that is not a year old —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reading makes a full man; conversation a ready man; and writing an exact man. - Francis Bacon
The danger in indiscriminate reading on the part of young people lies in this: Their impressions are vivid, and if what they read is based upon on unsound premises and . . entirely wrong . . they are apt to accept it as being true. - George Q. Cannon
The books which help you most are those which make you think most. The hardest way of learning is by easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought; deep freighted with truth and beauty. - Theodore Parker
Much reading is an oppression of the mind, and extinguishes the natural candle, which is the reason of so many senseless scholars in the world - William Penn
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. -Mark Twain
Tonight at the dinner table, read something out loud to your family. Tomorrow night, let another member her read something. A news story. A Bible verse. A Robert Frost poem. A cereal box panel. History. Humor Anything. Each night a different family member can read a selection. Imagine the wide range of subjects your family will read in 365 days. What a stimulating way to have your children develop good reading habits. We have 23 million illiterate adults in America. We wouldn’t have one, if each of them had been served reading as part of their nightly diet. It's non-fattening, but enriching. And it doesn't cost - United Technologies Corporation.
We live in an age that reads too much to be wise. - Oscar Wilde
Some people read because they are too lazy to think. - G.C. Lichtenberg
If I had read as much as other men I should have known no more than they. _ Thomas Hobbes
Book love. . . is your pass to the greatest, the purest, and the most perfect pleasure that God has prepared for His creatures. - Anthony Trollope
The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self activity. - Thomas Carlyle
In science, read by preference the newest works; in literature the oldest. The classics are always modern. - Lord Lytton.
The silent influence of books, is a mighty power in the world; and there is a joy in reading them known only to those who read them with desire and enthusiasm. — Silent, passive, and noiseless though they be, they yet set in action countless multitudes, and change the order of nations. - Giles
A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. And the love of knowledge, In a young mind, is almost always a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices.- Horace Mann
The constant habit of perusing devout books is so indispensable, that it has been termed the oil of the lamp of prayer. Too much reading, however, and too little meditation, may produce the effect of a lamp inverted; which is extinguished by the very excess of that ailment, whose property is to feed it. - H. More
Timothy- 1,4:13 — Till I come, give attendance to reading. (Written by St. Paul)
If you anxious to improve yourself read books which tend to elevate your taste, refine your imagination, clarify your ambition, raise your Ideals.
Read books of power, books which stir the very depths of your being to some purpose. Read books which make you resolve to do and be a little better; to try a little harder to be somebody and to do something in the world. Fifteen minutes’ concentrated reading every day would carry one through the great authors in about five years. - Orison son Swell Maren
Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines