|Image from Flickr user paulbence|
Image is of a young woman reading outside in an urban area.
Now, I still read, constantly. I always have a book with me or have something I can read on my cellphone (like Twitter updates). Not only do I think reading is fun, one of my favorite hobbies, but I think it helps me deal with the challenges that come from being deaf. How?
Reading Increases My Vocabulary
By reading, I learn new and interesting words, which help me when strange words come up in conversation. By building up my vocabulary I can anticipate what people might say, which definitely helps me listen.
Reading Relates to my Job
I am lucky in this case and work in a public library. By reading a wide variety of books I can anticipate names of authors and titles of books that people are going to ask for. It definitely helps to know commonly-requested authors' names, especially when they aren't common names. I can't read while at work, though, so it's a good thing I like it on my own.
Reading Gives Me an "Ear" for Dialogue
Not all authors can write dialogue expressively, but I have found that reading exposes me to a lot of "conversations" that I might not have, which helps me when I am in conversations of my own. Some quirky turns of phrase might confuse me at first, but if I have read them ahead of time they won't throw me off as much. This particularly helps if an author is really good at writing accents or phrases key to a certain dialect.
Reading Gives My Ears a Break
While I'm reading, I don't have to be listening to anything. It helps relax my ears and gives my brain a break. Listening can be wearying when it doesn't come effortlessly, so having a couple of hours (more or less, depending on my schedule) a day where I simply don't have to listen to anything really helps.
Reading Introduces Me to New Thoughts and Concepts
Reading a book can definitely open your eyes to things you never thought about. Something you might reject coming from a talking head on TV can sound more reasonable in a line of engaging dialogue in a book. I love the way books have the power to create new ideas and give us new perspectives. When I read about someone who has a particular challenge in a book, I can put myself in their shoes and see how they overcame the challenge. I just wish there were more deaf/hard of hearing characters in books.
Now I'm not necessarily saying reading would be the same for everyone or have the same results. Reading is a personal thing - some people read, some people don't and what people do read is as varied as personality traits! However, I am very grateful for the influence books have had on my life.