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The Most Important and Powerful Path to Success: Reading

Updated on January 8, 2010

Open the book, open your life!

Become the best example to your kids. Read, read, read.
Become the best example to your kids. Read, read, read.

You Can Open New Worlds!

It's easy to write opinions, but sometimes, statistics can be fun, too. So, fiirst, let us be clear. As Mark Twain said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics." Learn from them, but don't take them too seriously. OK? On with it…

Humans like to think that they know something. And we do, actually. Nearly everything we know of any consequence, though, we have learned or discovered within the past 500 years or so. In fact, most of what we know, scientifically and technologically at any rate, we have learned within the last 120 years. We went from horse and buggy to the moonwalk in less than 70 years. We went from the first computer in the 1920s to the Internet. We watched Filo Farnsworth's blurry little TV picture (an idea he purportedly stole from someone else), also in the 1920s, and now we have flat screens and DVD/DVR/Blue Ray technology that surpasses anything Filo could have imagined. (Side note: At a recent electronics convention in Las Vegas, a new TV was introduced. It has the depth of one American quarter!)

Still, our collected knowledge is limited. And we know we know almost nothing. But we continue to reach. We must always continue to reach. It is our saving grace. Reading is the key.

Not a big reader? You're not alone. Check out these stats from the American Booksellers Association:

1. Eighty percent of Americans will not buy or read a book this year. (Still, book sales are at an all time high. Interesting. . .)

2. Seventy percent of adults have not been in a bookstore in the past five years.

3. Fifty-eight percent of adults never read a book after high school.

4. Forty-two percent of university graduates never read another book. (They know it all, right?)

5. Fourteen percent of adults go to bookstores and walk out with a book; only 10 percent of that number read past the first chapter.

6. Forty-four percent of adults read below 7th grade level.

7. Fifty percent of high school grads cannot read their own diplomas or fill out a simple employment application.

If you have trouble with your reading skills, consider this: the most impoverished nations on earth are those whose populations have the lowest to no reading skills. The more a nation reads, the better it positions itself in the world. And what goes for a nation goes for its individuals as well.

Nations that do not emphasize reading skills do not produce nearly as many successful citizens as the reading nations do. There are far more millionaires in the US than in India or China. But that can and will change if our reading levels do not continue to increase.

If you or someone you know struggles with reading skills, or reading desire, make a conscious choice to improve. Check with your local library. They can put you in touch with reading programs to suit your level. And don’t forget to emphasize the importance of reading to your kids.

Reading is the door to everything. It opens up worlds that cannot exist in any other way. "You are the same today as you'll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet." Charlie 'Tremendous' Jones (National Speakers' Hall of Fame)

Finally, here’s a little stat you might enjoy. See where you fit:

What Are You Most Afraid Of? (Peoples' Almanac Book of Lists)

Speaking before a group: 41% Heights: 32% Insects and bugs: 22% Financial problems: 22% Deep water: 22% Sickness: 19% Death: 19% Flying: 19%

(This survey involved 3000 Americans. There was no prompting. When the group was given a list of possible choices, more than 90% chose speaking before a group first.)

Read more; be more. It’s more than a good idea; it’s a necessity.

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