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Until modern times, many people were never taught to read and write. Their main source of news came through the local church, or they could stand and listen to the town crier. They transmitted their family history and historic events by reciting what they had learned from their elders, and they had to hope their rendition was accurate enough for their children. The ability to read and write would have added a lot of value to their lives.

Many societies today believe in the value of a formal education, and they begin with teaching people how to read and write. If these skills are mastered, a person can learn many others valuable lessons simply by reading. Pleasure and enjoyment are also an important part of the world of reading, and there are millions of books awaiting eager readers. For those who want to learn how to do something on their own, there are even self-help books available.