There’s been a lot of conversation lately about the future of reading, specifically books. In an era where anybody can stream anything anywhere at any time on their smartphones or tablets, will there really be a need for books in the not so distant future? Or will they go the way of radio, an archaic communications platform that’s still around but not nearly used as much as it used to be?
And if books become an antiquated form of learning and entertainment, what about reading in general? Will future generations — or even today’s youngest people — need to know how to read in the future?
The fact is that reading was, is, and always will be a critical life skill. And while how people read and where they read may evolve, developing key reading and comprehension skills will remain an essential part of leading a successful, productive life.
The Development of Reading
In terms of human communications, the written word is actually a relatively recent development. The printing press wasn’t invented until 1455 when the Guttenberg Bible was first printed. Before that, people wrote by hand, most notably the illuminated manuscripts created by monks during the Middle Ages.
It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th Century that public education became common in Europe and the US. While today we take for granted that practically everybody knows how to read, only a few generations ago that wasn’t necessarily the case.
Reading for Kids
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the Technology Boom occurred. Digital storage became cheap, easy, and widespread, enabling the development of tablets, smartphones, laptops, and other portable devices.
In the coming years, these probably will replace paper and ink books and other outdated formats. But content will continue to be created and people will keep reading it.
So while the way we read may be evolving, the need for reading will continue to be a part of the human experience.