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If we encounter a man of rare intellect,
we should ask him what books he reads.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Reading is the ability to recognize and understand handwritten, printed, typed, or carved letters and symbols, then to translate them into words and sentences that provide a coherent meaning or train of thought to the individual who is doing the reading. To effectively read, an individual must comprehend the meaning of printed or written characters or symbols and understand the intent of the writer or the significance of the written material.

The sequence of characters must be arranged in a particular order that is known and used by the reader. Patterns are used in a variety of ways by different cultures; left to right in English, right to left in Hebrew, and from top to bottom in Chinese. The process of reading is used in broad applications and is applied to mathematical and scientific formulas and equations, shorthand, musical notes, and Braille symbols for the blind.

As one of the language arts, reading goes hand in hand with speaking, writing, listening, and the sense of touch for those who use Braille. It has become such a necessity that it is almost impossible to go through life without learning basic reading skills, if only for the simplest of things.

With growing technological advances in all areas of society, industry, and business, reading skills have become an intricate part of our lives, enhancing our lifestyles, and taking human living conditions to a higher plane.

Basic reading skills have also become a necessity for households including how to instructions for cooking and preparing foods, the use of cleaning materials, instructions on how to use medicines, and safety manuals for appliances, toys, and other household equipment that is used for making a home more efficient and comfortable.

Most employment opportunities require basic reading and writing skills and the better job positions require a higher degree of reading competency. Understanding job related documents and manuals, taking written tests, and being able to read to peers and other employees and discussing what you read may become necessary for retaining employment and/or for advancement to certain positions in the company.

Many people use their reading skills for recreation, leisure time, and their own personal enjoyment. Books, magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals can be used by a reader to relax, relieve tension, and take the mind away from the daily hustle and bustle of the world.

There is written material on just about anything imaginable. The news of the day is probably the most popular reading for many people, but many people like health related articles, sports, religion, food and cooking, fashion, and gardening. History, politics, economic and social issues, and science are also very popular with readers. Fiction and non-fiction books, art and literature, hobbies, and children's' books make for interesting reading.

Technical and mechanical books and publications are for those who like to build and/or to learn how things work. They may also be required to read to establish credentials for employment opportunities or they may be needed to keep a job.

Learning to read takes time and patience, and studies show that the more time spent reading and participating in reading related activities, the stronger the individual becomes in his reading development. Reading skills can be greatly improved with the use of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and the use of a thesaurus.

What a person likes to read is a personal choice, but most experts on reading agree that if you want to become a proficient, knowledgeable reader, you should read extensively on different topics.

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