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Importance of the printed word

If reading were only valued by the middle classes whose children learnt to read Dickens in the original, then Hilary Wilce's comments in "So what's so great about reading?" (TES, April 26) would be justified.

However, reading is much more than that. It is an input to the development of language which is superior in some respects to listening. Rate and repetition of input is much more under the control of the reader than the listener because print is permanent; the printed word is more uniformly reproducible than the spoken; the breakdown of language into words that can be moved around is more easily shown in print; the visual memory is for some people more efficient than the auditory.

The immense importance of the development of language, and its association with the development of "intelligence", is enough in itself to justify the earliest possible acquisition of literacy in all children, and the continued encouragement of reading for all purposes and at all ages.

Leslie Duffen Wimstone Ilsington Newton Abbot, Devon

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