Reading is an absolutely essential skill. If you don't know how to read, or struggle with reading, you will find it difficult to do simple tasks like shopping for groceries, find a bus route, and even filling out patient forms at your dentist office (find examples here). The good thing is that we have an abundance of reading resources right at our fingertips, so there's really no excuse for letting your skill development slide. If you want to learn to read or become a better reader, here are some of the resources that are available to you.
Learning to read starts at home, but we don't really make the big push toward proficiency until we get to school. It's vitally important that you and your kids do all of the reading assignments given in school, as they're designed to improve reading skill levels. Even adults can benefit from school by going to night school at the community center or taking an ESL course that will help you adjust to reading in a new language. The best part is the public school is free, as are many community based adult literacy programs.
Most homes are near one library branch or another, and it doesn't cost anything to get a card and borrow materials. Libraries don't just have material in English, but also in any other common languages in that area, such as French, Chinese, or even Gaelic. In addition to printed books, you'll also find magazines, audio books, e-books, readers, graphic novels, videos, documents, and manuals at various reading levels that you can use to develop your reading proficiency. Many libraries also have book clubs and literacy programs available to patrons.
If you don't think reading is important, consider the internet. In order to access information, you need to be able to read the menu choices and type in commands. You can't do that if you can't read. From the comfort of your couch, you can use the internet to access web content designed for reading development as well as free and paid e-books ranging from the latest bestsellers to classic literature such as Shakespeare's plays. With many encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses online, you can look up almost anything.
It can be difficult to interest some people, especially children, in reading. However there are games and devices that can help make reading seem more fun. The internet is littered with reading comprehension games for kids and there are a myriad of educational electronic toys. The Leap Pad, for instance, uses a special pen and books to develop reading skills and there are numerous games for the Nintendo DS designed to improve comprehension in a variety of languages.