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The Purpose of Reading

Popularity 2Viewed 6089 times 2018-3-18 17:15 |System category:News


The Purpose of Reading


Why do we read? Do we read for joy ? Do we read for knowledge? Or do we read for enlightenment? When little, I had never been able to figure out why people around me kept telling me that a person should read as much as possible. Nobody had attempted to explain the explicit benefits of reading to me. However, I embarked on a journey of finding the purpose of reading myself when growing up. This paper will describe the three different stages of my relationship with reading. I read from learning languages to enjoying a story to learning knowledge.


Stage 1 Read to learn languages


At the initial stage, with rather limited interest in reading, I read mainly to enlarge vocabularies for both Chinese and English. I had barely started developing my reading strategies and it was also quite difficult for me to understand underlying meaning buried in words. Writing had no part to play at this stage. Thanks to my perseverance, I managed to go through this stage. 


Growing up in a tiny village in China, I didn’t have much access to books partly because my parents had no interest in reading and partly because there was no library either in that village or in my primary school. Furthermore, thanks to the dogmatic education methodology in my elementary school, I found no fun in reading Chinese books. This could be attributed to the fact that my Chinese teachers would just teach us to think in a fixed way and there were always standard answers for Chinese reading questions. Also, because my Chinese teachers would constantly require us to memorize a variety essays both modern and ancient ones, what I had towards Chinese reading then was only anxiety and stress 


In senior high school, after deciding to receive higher education in America, I started to cultivate my habit of reading English books so as to improve my English. The first book I chose was “Pride and Prejudice”, an enormous challenge to me. It cost me around 3 months to finish as I had to frequently refer to dictionary and struggled along the way to try to understand the meaning of the author. 


Even though I had specific extrinsic stimulus towards reading initially, I had to force myself most of the time to stay focused on reading materials and to finish reading a book. Nevertheless, I managed to read a few Chinese and English books. Although they are far from enough, this was a good start. 


Stage 2 Read to enjoy a story


At this stage, I read mainly to maintain or enhance my interest in reading. With relatively enough vocabularies, I was able to enjoy stories written in both languages, particularly in English. I therefore paid much less attention to words than to the content of a book. Additionally, I started my habit of writing.


When choosing what to read, I would intentionally avoid picking serious literature books as I gradually found that reading interesting as well as easy stories served as great catalysts in maintaining my interest in reading. I also started developing my reading skills such as skimming, especially guessing the meaning of new words.


As I was determined to improve my English, most of the time I read only English books. The books recommended by my friend: “Handle with Care” and “Desert Flower”enormously facilitated in fostering my interest in English reading as for the first time, I was able to fully immerse myself in a story and to truly enjoy it. The newly-found motivation in reading relentlessly encouraged me to read more interesting stories including “Steve Jobs”, “Everything I Never Told You”, “My Sister’s Keeper” and so on. 


At this stage, my motivation has gradually turned from an extrinsic one into an intrinsic one as I did not need to force myself to read. I was able to thoroughly enjoy a book. Also, I started writing. First, I would only copy insightful sentences. But gradually, I wrote a few sentences of reflection on the books I had finished reading.


Stage 3 Read to learn


At this stage, I read to learn and to acquire inspiration. After some time, reading interesting stories is not enough to keep my interest and to satisfy my needs because I realized that interesting stories failed to leave much in my mind and therefore are soon forgot. 


My choices of books are quite different from before. At present, I read books from classical literature like“To Kill A Mockingbird” to social science like “Social Psychology” to Chinese essays. I have not only gained multitudes of inspiration from these books but also a better understanding of myself as well as this world. The best part is that I have come to notice more links between seemingly unrelated fields.


Writing has now become an essential part of reading for me. I write to summarize, to review and to reflect upon the reading materials. Writing has also become my tool to communicate with myself and this world. 


Both reading and writing have grown into a part of my daily life. I no longer need any external stimulus to encourage me to do reading or writing. I have also encountered with the incredible joy lying in reading and writing, which serve to me as hobbies as well as tools for gaining new knowledge.


In conclusion, I have so far experienced these three different stages in exploring my relationship with reading.What I feel and what I choose to read apparently vary from stage to stage. I have also finally come to appreciate the benefits of both reading and writing. I am now also able to answer the question I raised in the introduction: I think we can read for many purposes and our purpose of reading can be quite personal which heavily relies on how we explore our relationship with reading. 







(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report wully 2018-4-12 13:45
we have the same feeling about. reading,reading. really tells us a lot especially when welearn foreign can help us to understand other. country's culture and customs.therefore,when we talk. in foreign languages.we. needn't worry about. making too. much also can enrich our life.let's enjoy reding

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  • The Purpose of Reading 2018-4-12 13:45

    we have the same feeling about. reading,reading. really tells us a lot especially when welearn foreign can help us to understand other. country's culture and customs.therefore,when we talk. in foreign languages.we. needn't worry about. making too. much also can enrich our life.let's enjoy reding

  • Why don't We Stand Out and Fight? 2018-4-4 14:14

    It is actually emotionally and mentally healthy to have nursing homes for old people in residential areas, and makes it easy for families to visit their elderly relations regularly.
    Death happens to everyone and it is stupid to hide it away. Death is not bad luck - it will happen to you and me.
    In some European countries there are homes for the elderly next to kindergartens, and everyone benefits from interacting with each other on a daily basis.
    The elderly benefit from interacting with children and keeps them mentally alert, whereas the young learn about death as a normal part of life.

    For a country that supposedly 'respects' their elders, China has a very superstitious attitude to death and dying.
    where i am from, the elderly are allowed and supported by family and state) to be independent and in their own homes.
    Where medical treatment is needed, residential homes allow the elderly appropriate facilities in towns and cities while their families can visit easily and local residents can interact with them.
    In addition, local communities benefit from being able to interact with these residents and the residents can still be part of a local community, not hidden away as something to be ashamed of or 'taboo'.

    Shame on China for such medieval superstitious attitudes regarding death.
    Does China 'respect' the elderly so much that they should be hidden away from people's lives?

    Do you want to be isolated and hidden away when you are old and your family don't want to or can't visit you?

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