Why does literacy matter?
“Reading makes you smarter,” says Keith Stanovich, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, and she has shown experimentally that this claim applies to children as well as adults. Teaching children to read not only gives them access to knowledge from print, but also makes them better able to use that knowledge. Children who read store up background knowledge about the things they read about, whether it be nature, science, history, current events, or geography. Having background knowledge helps readers make sense of the new things they read. Children who read gain bigger vocabularies, too, and having bigger vocabularies enables them to notice things and to make finer distinctions in their perceptions of the world.