Knowledge is power…so never underestimate the power of reading!
A few years ago, a 14-year old boy from Malawi borrowed a book from his local library. The book was entitled Using Energy, and from its pages William Kamkwamba created a windmill (from scrap parts) to generate electricity. The electricity he produced powered 4 lightbulbs and 2 radios for he and his family.
Books…5 million of them! What am I talking about?… Google’s Ngram Viewer allows you to search through 5 million books, throughout the centuries, and find out the frequency of word use. Here’s a fascinating and funny TED Talk about the interesting patterns we can discover from 500 billion words (found within 5 million books)!!
In 2012, Ann Morgan decided to spend a year reading a book or short story from EVERY country in the world.
According to Morgan, only about 4.5% of what’s published in the UK each year are translations, so her first obstacle was to find out if she could even access a book, in English, from all 196 countries. Check out her literary journey here!
And how about an article, written by Neil Gaiman (yes, that Neil Gaiman; author of Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and the graphic novel How to Talk to Girls at Parties, to mention just a few of his works), about the importance of fiction. He writes that fiction has two purposes; to be a gateway into reading, and to create empathy. Says Gaiman about the written word:
“…words are more important than they ever were: we navigate
the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we
need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we
are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot
exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.”
Ok, ok, ok…I’ve convinced you, right?
Now get out there and read!