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43 Great Quotes on the Power and Importance of Reading

A book is a gift you can open again and again.

Did you know that September 8 is International Literacy Day? I didn’t, until yesterday, and so I missed the chance to eat some cake. (I’m always looking for an excuse to eat cake.)

A special day to celebrate literacy (and eat cake) is certainly something I support, but I also think that our attention should be squarely on literacy year-round. As a teacher, and now a parent, of bilingual children, books and reading have always been at the heart of my efforts to nurture the minority language.

Reading not only has tremendous power when it comes to fueling the development of all aspects of language ability, its importance to the entirety of a human life in this day and age really can’t be overstated.

To help underscore this point, I’ve assembled 43 favorite quotes on the power and importance of literacy. Cut yourself a big piece of cake and read along with me…

1. A book is a gift you can open again and again. —Garrison Keillor

2. Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. —Kofi Annan

3. Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. —Frederick Douglass

4. Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his needs, is good for him. —Maya Angelou

5. There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book. —Frank Serafini

6. Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. —Emilie Buchwald

7. One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and to their society—is to read to children. —Carl Sagan

8. You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me. —Strickland Gillian

9. Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty.  It should be offered to them as a precious gift. —Kate DiCamillo

10. Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. —Vera Nazarian

11. Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx

12. There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. —May Ellen Chase

13. To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. —Victor Hugo

14. It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations—something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own. —Katherine Patterson

15. When you learn to read you will be born again…and you will never be quite so alone again. —Rumer Godden

16. We read to know we are not alone. —C.S. Lewis

17. So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. —William James

18. There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. —Jacqueline Kennedy

19. The greatest gift is a passion for reading. —Elizabeth Hardwick

20. There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. —Marcel Proust

21. Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality. —L.R. Knost

22. Read, read, read. —William Faulkner

Want to learn a lot about children and reading? See this superb post at the site Mom Loves Best…

The Ultimate Reading Guide for Your Child

23. Read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read until words become your friends. Then when you need to find one, they will jump into your mind, waving their hands for you to pick them. And you can select whichever you like, just like a captain choosing a stickball team. —Karen Witemeyer

24. Books are a uniquely portable magic. —Stephen King

25. Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. —E.P. Whipple

26. A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say, “How to Build a Boat.” —Stephen Wright

27. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Richard Steele

28. There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back. —Jim Fiebig

29. A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic. —Carl Sagan

30. A house without books is like a room without windows. —Horace Mann

31. A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever. —Louis L’Amour

32. Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. —Tomie dePaola

33. It is books that are the key to the wide world; if you can’t do anything else, read all that you can. —Jane Hamilton

34. I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. —Anna Quindlen

35. A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read. —Mark Twain

36. Comics are a gateway drug to literacy. —Art Spiegelman

37. He that loves reading has everything within his reach. —William Godwin

38. Let us read and let us dance—two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. —Voltaire

39. Wear the old coat and buy the new book. —Austin Phelps

40. I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp. —JK Rowling

41. Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier. —Kathleen Norris

42. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. —S.I. Hayakawa

43. I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. —Jorge Luis Borges

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51 Responses

  1. “To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” —A.C. Grayling …is one of my favorite quotes.

    I love the list of quotes—how true—we cannot give a greater gift to a child than the ability to read. With teachers in my family I constantly hear that the children who can read come from homes where reading is given prominence. The parents read and they begin reading to their children at the earliest of years with the end result that these children love books and reading. For them it is no onerous educational task to be managed at school. They will seek out books and internet information at their calling.

    1. Thank you for the list! I wish you could add a couple more because I am making my students know 50 different quotes.

  2. Thank you for the quote list. I especially love this quote: “So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. —William James

    My co-teacher and I graduated three struggling readers from an after school intervention and we wrote this quote on a chapter book that we bought for them. We are so proud of them because now they are reading above grade level. Reading rocks!

  3. Those who watch TV will always be led by those who read books!
    The world is divided into 2 groups of people; those who read books and those who do what those who read books say!
    Just as you feed your phone with charge from a wall socket, so does your brain feed from the books you read!
    Oxygen is found in air but knowledge is found in books!
    I just feel that a man with no passion for reading books is just like a little baby with no passion for breast feeding! I wish there was a way I could hammer this into people’s mind!!! We can’t exhaust the benefits thereof!

  4. “Some parents feel that reading a picture book to their child in an animated and child-like way somehow renders them immature and unrefined. Being that the ability to read is the most prized intellectual skill anyone can possess, and if readers really are born on the laps of their parents, then I would say that reading to your child in that way is the most grown-up and sophisticated thing that a parent could do.” – LBC

  5. Thank you. I found what I was looking for!!! Also you inspired me that there are many people that love to read. “The beauty of life is to read a book and to share that treasure with others.”

  6. Some cool quotes, and I especially like 36. I was a big fan of comics when I was younger, but my love for books didn’t come until I was older, which kind of confirms the truth of quote number 36.

    In a tongue in cheek way, I also like:

    “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” —P.J. O’Rourke

  7. Thanks. This is inspiring, as I did not hesitate to share it with younger ones. Good job here!

  8. What a great discovery!
    Thank you so much for the site and its invaluable information. The quotes are truly inspiring, motivational and a wake-up call. Really, reading is a sure step out of the ordinary into greatness.
    Many thanks & God bless.

  9. Thanks a lot for those precious quotes. “Reading is the special key to take you where you want to be.” and “Reading is your first step to travel the world!”

  10. This is a wonderful site. If you don’t read you perish. If you read you control those that don’t read. Those that don’t read will always see readers as a virus.

  11. These are inspiring and enlightening sayings. Wise ones invest at all cost in the development of their souls and mind by buying and reading good books. Though materially rich, he is unwise who invests only in things other than that (good library/reading) which is a refuge from many of the miseries of life.

  12. I love the way you put it. Coming from a society where values seem to be misplaced, I so much agree with your words. However like the campaign of the moment in my country, change begins with you and me. Let’s do what we can to encourage the value of reading.

  13. Excellent ideas and quotations. can u share some ideas regarding elocution of my daughter for topic ‘the value of books’

  14. I like these quotes so much. This was inspiring and motivating. Thus reading is essential for a child’s success in life.

    “The greatest gift is a passion for reading” and “A house without books is like a room without windows” are more quotes I like.

  15. Needing to add some fulfilling quotes to accompany photos of our young nephews, I found exactly what I need here! Thanks!

  16. Benjamin Franklin (American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States), once said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Absolutely correct. Nice collection of quotes by you about reading and books. A great effort by you worth reading and creditable!

    Mandira Bhattacharjee from Kolkata, India

  17. My team and I are planning a reading campaign in public schools of one of the northern states in Nigeria. Your resources here have been quite resourceful. They are lifetime literary assets.

  18. Thank you Adam for providing me with the reward I was looking for for my Angolan students who are starting their intensive English course in Italy tomorrow!

  19. Thanks for such inspiring quotes depicting the inherent values of reading. They are gems. Every parent and teacher should share these with their children or students.

    1. Thanks for such inspiring quotes depicting the inherent values of reading. They are gems. Every parent and teacher should share these with their children or students.

  20. From memory:

    “It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds. In the best books great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.” – William Ellery Channing

    …is that not beautiful?

  21. I taught English to disadvantaged Queensland teenagers for years…one day I told them a personal story about reading. They were mesmerized. I told them more (plenty here – I was the child of an illiterate dairy farmer). At some stage I realized it was as though I was reliving the final scene of the original Mad Max, where the children are gathered round listening to a legend (of Max who saved the world – albeit a very small Australian one!). In this classroom, I realized, the practice of reading was legendary – something performed by people from other times and places, something very separate from their reality. My heart still breaks for them.

  22. Someone brilliant said, “A book is valuable chiefly for its power to inspire.” Wish I knew who it was, so I could give credit where credit is due.

  23. Readers are actually great leaders. If the clothes you wear are far more costly than the books you buy, then you are not ready for any form of personal development.

  24. MY best greetings . I am a teacher of English from Tunisia . I was looking for an important quote when I came across this fruitful set of quotes. Really I enjoyed them myself before my pupils. Thankssss for sharing .

    1. Fawzia, thank you for your kind comment! I send my best wishes, to you and your students, from Japan to Tunisia!

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Welcome to Bilingual Monkeys!

I’m Adam Beck, the founder of this blog and The Bilingual Zoo, a lively worldwide forum for parents raising bilingual or multilingual kids. I’m also the author of the popular books Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability and Bilingual Success Stories Around the World. I’ve been an educator and writer in this field for 25 years as well as the parent of two bilingual children, now 19 and 16. I hope my work can help empower the success of your bilingual journey.

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