Why is Reading Important?

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons

Time: 1 class period
20 minutes: Making various signs, cutting out pictures of famous people.
Materials: Poster board, markers, several pictures of famous people from newspapers or magazines


Students at the ninth grade level often feel that reading is not that important in their lives and lack motivation to read on their own. In this introductory lesson, students will learn about the many ways in which reading is a skill that we must all have in order to be successful in life. They will begin to consider what difficulties a person might face who is illiterate. The teacher will guide students through discussion and encourage them to see the many situations in which they need to be able to read in order to achieve their future goals. Specifically used are some situations and readings that relate to environmental and occupational health.

Purpose – This is an engagement lesson where students will begin to get motivated about reading and see why they need to be proficient readers.

Students will be able to:
1. Generate ideas about why reading is important in a class discussion.
2. Identify ways in which they use reading skills daily (in writing).
3. Predict how reading could help them achieve their future ambitions (in writing).

National English Education Standard
Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

Teacher Background
Reading for Understanding: A Guide to Improving Reading in Middle and High School Classrooms
by Ruth Schoenbach, Cynthia Greenleaf, Christine Cziko, and Lori Hurwitz
ISBN: 0-7879-5045-9

Resource Websites

The Reading Apprenticeship Framework



1. Before students arrive in the classroom, post signs around the room which warn of potential health hazards, such as “Use Proper Eye Wear When Operating Machine”, “Danger: Hazardous Material”, “Warning: Reclaimed Water” etc. You might include several signs stating similar warnings in foreign languages. Write on the board the question of the day: “Why is reading important?”. On some of the students desks place pictures taken from magazines or newspapers depicting people who are very successful and clearly used reading to get to where they are today. When students enter the room, ask them to respond to the question of the day. Give them about 5 minutes to do this independently, and then discuss their answers. Make a list of their ideas on the board about why they think reading is important.

2. Tell the students to look around the room at the signs you have posted. Ask the students to consider what might happen to a person who could not read these signs. What dangers might such a person face? Why is reading critical in these various situations? Discuss their answers.

3. Have the students with pictures of famous people on their desks hold up each photo one at a time. See if the students can identify the person and their profession. Ask students to consider how each person became so successful. Do you think they have strong reading skills? What makes you think so? Could the person have become so successful without having the ability to read? Allow students to discuss and think about these questions as a whole class or in small groups.

4. Ask students to make a double column list. In the left column, tell them to write down things they would like to have or accomplish in the future. Tell them to be as specific as possible and list as many things as they can think of. Some of these might be “Become a veterinarian” or “Have a nice house/car”. After several minutes, have students write in the opposite column how they hope to attain these things. Discuss what the students have written and explore how reading skills are necessary to attaining these goals.

Review the ideas that students have generated during the period. Pose this final question to the class: “How would your life change if you could not read?”

Embedded Assessment
As students are writing lists, the teacher should float around the room to assess their responses. During discussion, listen to students’ commentaries and assess what students already know about the importance of reading. Since this is an engagement lesson, students should be generating lots of questions and ideas about the topic, but they will not have all the answers just yet.

Answer the closure question in 4-5 sentences.

Embedded Assessment



PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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