It goes without saying those of us fortunate enough to be fully literate truly can’t imagine our lives without the ability to read and write. It’s not hard to see why, either. Literacy is a huge part of how we communicate and navigate our way through the world we live in. Without it, just about every aspect of daily life becomes a lot more difficult.
However, literacy is important for many other reasons beyond just the basics. Here we’ll take a closer look at what it’s really all about, as well as explore the benefits you reap when you make it a point to go from merely being literate to being well-read. We’ll discuss why it’s especially important to educate yourself in regards to the community where you live as well.
What Is Literacy (and Why Is It More Important Than Ever)?
Literacy as a larger concept is about a lot more than just the ability to read and write. It also encompasses the ability to design, speak, and listen in a way that facilitates effective communication. It’s about not only reading and writing, but adequately applying these skills to various aspects of living, socializing, and continuing to learn.
It’s more important than ever before because many of today’s children are what is officially classified as “digital natives,” meaning they are equally comfortable and “at home” both online and offline. While the Internet on the whole offers an immense opportunity to learn, it’s also quite vast. Well-developed literacy-related skills will help these children (and the rest of us as well) best unlock the full potential of the Internet and all the opportunities it offers.
Why Everyone Should Be Reading About Their Community
Just as important as whether you read is what you read. Reading plenty of fiction – even the undeniable classics – is an excellent start, but it’s not enough if you’re truly interested in becoming well-read. Well-read people also read plenty of non-fiction, including multiple books on history and culture.
However, far too many people fail to read enough regional history and local interest books in particular. Here we’ll take a closer look at some of the many reasons why everyone should be getting to know their community better through the power of reading.
1. It’s important to know the full story of how your community came to be.
Most of us know at least a handful of local legends in regards to our city and community. We may even know a few tidbits about our community’s origins. However, many of us don’t have a complete mental picture of how the place where we live came to be. Do you know whether or not your town originally started out as a fishing village, a railroad settlement, or a mining town? Are you familiar with how the various cultural groups in your area originally came to settle in your area? Do you have a full understanding of how they helped make your community everything that it is today? Do you know the names and backstories of your town’s founding fathers?
Regional history books about your town and community can educate you in regards to all of these topics and much more.
2. You learn how to get the absolute most out of life in your community.
Modern towns, cities, neighborhoods, and communities have a lot in common with people. They’re all individuals. Each comes attached to a personality and a history that’s one of a kind. However, it can sometimes be hard to see and appreciate the uniqueness of a place you know like the back of your hand.
Local interest and regional history books can help you develop a deeper understanding of how its signature trademarks came to be. For example, knowing your town is famous for winemaking and having the inside track on who makes the best bottle of Chardonnay in your region is one thing. Having a complete understanding of how the local wine industry developed and became everything it is today is a different matter altogether. You’ll be surprised how much better that Chardonnay tastes once that’s occurred.
3. You develop a better understanding of yourself and where you come from.
The chances are excellent that you already know a lot about your unique ancestry and family history thanks to your parents and grandparents. However, it’s highly likely that you could stand to know more about others like you in your community.
Go out of your way to read about how your ancestors first made their way to your area. Research the influence local people with whom you share a common thread had on the way your community functions. Learn about how others in the same profession as you contributed to society and to the development of your town’s unique vibe. It’s a wonderful way to feel connected to your community in an entirely new way.
4. You develop a greater degree of compassion for your fellow man.
When was the last time you made it a point to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? How recently have you gone out of your way to truly make friends with someone of another race, background, or heritage? Have you recently attended a local cultural event specifically for the purpose of understanding that culture a little better?
Developing and cultivating an appreciation for different types of people is something every person should be going out of their way to do, as it’s the best way to appreciate the differences and the similarities between people.
That said, it’s important not only to read about local people just like you, but also those who are different. Are you of Irish descent? Go out of your way to read about local people of African-American, Mexican, Swedish, or Italian heritage as well. Are you Protestant? Read up on the Catholic community in your area. Make sure you research the indigenous peoples of your area while you’re at it.
At the end of the day, there’s really no substitute for a solid education that includes a full understanding of what makes our communities and the people that live there great. Start your own journey today!