Reading, activity characterized by the translation of symbols, or letters, into words and sentences that have meaning to the individual. The ultimate goal of reading is to be able to understand written material, to evaluate it, and to use it for one's needs.
In order to read, one must follow a sequence of characters arranged in a particular spatial order. For example, English flows from left to right, Hebrew from right to left, and Chinese from top to bottom. The reader must know the pattern and use it consistently. Ordinarily, the reader sees the symbols on a page, transmitting the image from the eye to the brain, but reading also can be accomplished by touch, as in the Braille system, a printing method designed for the blind that involves raised or punched dots.
Reading refers to activities as varied as a first grader's struggling with simple sentences in a storybook, a cook's following directions from a cookbook, or a scholar's attempting to understand the meanings of a poem. Reading exposes people to the accumulated wisdom of human civilization. Mature readers bring to the text their experiences, abilities, and interests; the text, in turn, allows them to expand those experiences and abilities and to find new interests. To reach maturity in reading, an individual goes through a series of stages, from readiness to adult reading ability.
from : Encarta Encyclopedia