The ability to read and write is one of the most important set of skills a person can have. Writing was invented about five thousand years ago in Mesopotamia to record business transactions. It soon developed into a means of recording any kind of information. The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest example of literature known. Writing is a means of recording information, and reading is how a person deciphers such knowledge.
Modern society depends on the written word for almost all its functions. From the moment we are born, our names are recorded on birth certificates. Records are kept on paper forms, and in the modern world, in electronic format on computer systems. If a person can not read this information and write their own information to these records, they will be severely handicapped. The modern world is dependent upon the written word for most of its functions. The law is recorded in writing. News is written before it is read on television. Books are written on every conceivable subject.
Learning language begins almost immediately after we are born. Parents talk and make noises to their children so that they can learn the basics of language. With some language skills in place it is easy to pick up some form of literacy. The first thing is to learn the alphabet and all the sounds the letters make. Then the sound combinations the letters make allow people to learn how words are spelled. Literacy feeds on itself, and soon language begins to develop at a faster pace. Without the ability to read it is next to impossible to learn anything.
Modern technology has allowed us to produce information in media that does not require reading skills to understand. Movies, television, video games, music, all can be understood without reading. These media let us learn things without reading, yet people don’t develop advanced language skills without the ability to read. Can you imagine the impracticality of a video dictionary? How would you even look something up without either writing the query or voice recognition technology?
Knowledge is contained in books the world over. People record information in the written form everywhere. Society operates on the written word. Without the ability to read and write, a person will not be able to become independent and successful. Literacy is the most important skill a person can achieve in school. Once you have the ability to read and write there is almost nothing you can not learn. Without literacy, a person is doomed to a second rate existence.