A book is not just a collection of words. Even a good dictionary is more. It’s a beacon, leading us into the unknown. It casts light where there is darkness, and brings knowledge where there was ignorance. It isn’t enough to simply read the words. We must be able to understand them, to let them teach us. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about an encyclopedia or a work of pulp fiction. There are things in any book that we have no knowledge of, things peculiar to that one book.
The mind is a marvellous thing, but it demonstrates its remarkable nature only when it is properly fed. The expansion of the mind can only happen through education. That education can be experiential, experiencing actual events or places, or it can be acquire through the efforts of others. Movies, TV programmes or a teacher giving a lecture can open up whole new vistas. Books, however, can provide greater depth and broader range. There is no limit to what a book may contain.
When you really think about it, it’s a magical process. We can take words and use them to recreate anything. Indeed, we can create whole new realities. Realities that can be utterly convincing. Equally, we can convey facts that relate to everything, from events from the ancient past to the most complex scientific theories.
Literacy is a most precious gift.