“I asked a room full of M.A. English students about the reading they were doing outside the curriculum. At least a third did not do any, which makes them functional aliterates. Aliterates are people that can read but do not. They read just enough to get by. If a language and literature department can have so many of them, then what about students in other disciplines?
What do you lose by becoming an aliterate? Quite a lot, actually. According to Maryanne Wolf, Director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University in the United States, while reading “we are forced to construct, to produce narrative, to imagine. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language — when you watch a film or listen to a tape — you don’t press pause.” Hence, the mind receives a far more vigorous workout whilst reading than consuming any other form of media. It is not surprising that avid readers tend to possess better memories and minds more equipped to resist the exigencies of ageing than those who do not read. Their capacity for learning also tends to be far more advanced. In addition, since reading requires more concentration than other media, an avid reader’s mind tends to be more focused which allows him or her to make good decisions.”