Lots of people only read when they must. That’s conditioning. Almost all our reading begins, ends, and is associated with basic schooling. After high school graduation, reading is completely optional. Many adults choose not to do it. It’s no surprise when their kids don’t, either.
Reading is the backbone of the book report. In it, a story is reviewed. The chosen book is usually from a recommended reading list or of the student’s own choice. The skills learned by writing these is so important that the SAT includes them.
Magazines are satisfactory as well.
Many simple things we take for granted are taught by reading. Despite lessons and tests on language arts, books demonstrate knowledge students may or may not have applied.
- Storytelling. Since reading starts at a minimal point at an early age, it advances to more complex dramas as they grow and mature.
- Different dialects and accents from other regions or countries. This is typically how someone discovers that an Irish brogue, Southern drawl, or Cockney accent refers to just that.
- How people from other cultures think. A story of Mexican life told from the native viewpoint gives an insight that is missed by vacationing there.
- Their values and morals. Anyone who reads novels that investigate the minds of criminals, e.g., sociopaths, psychopaths, etc., will learn quite a lesson.
- How the various classes of people sound and behave. This would reflect education, the lack thereof, and the work ethics of the lower, middle, and upper-class.
- The less obvious differences in romance or between genders. It could be here that a young man discovers why the object of his affection doesn’t return his calls or is constantly too busy to talk.
- Writing skills. A well-written book is a great example of how to write correctly.
- Proper grammar. What sense would it make to teach kids language arts without having it displayed somewhere?
- Spelling. See #8.
- Punctuation. See #9.
- Capitalization. Newspaper articles, book titles, names, proper nouns, and names—among many others—are shown as they should read in print.
- Consequences or a lack thereof
- How to write dialogue. Many children and adults wonder where exactly quotation marks go. When they start writing stories, they really need to know.
- Paragraph usage. The average book avoids long block paragraphs except as a style. That’s because they drive readers nuts. General advice says to divide them based on topics and responses. Books and articles show how it’s done.
- Importance of the serial or Oxford comma. Enemies form over this little detail. Not using it is fine until the meaning of the series is misunderstood. It was standard. Times change. Classics still include them.
- Vocabulary. They research a word because it’s new to them. Maybe they never knew the meaning of a term heard millions of times. With reading, their word knowledge will grow.
- Word definitions by context. This is one of the best things about reading. Noticing how the word is used can reveal the definition of it.
- History. Historical novels and stories teach. The details are rich and vivid, right down to the speech, era, and landscape descriptions. It’s like going on a brief trip. Such books are preferable to history lessons any day.
- Industry. Reading about the adventures of race car drivers, stunt pilots, business moguls, or other celebrities is a rush. Being too young to drive or vote can draw a kid to those accounts.
- How to experience the good and the bad indirectly. One method of weighing options is the see the pros and cons on paper. Mentally watching someone else do the dirty work saves experimenting in real life. Sometimes theory is enough.
Another bonus of reading is exposure to books that are potentially (or actually) great films.