Beyond the Pages: Why Reading Improves Lives


Guest Author: 
The Honourable Darron Lloyd.

Mr. Lloyd who serves on the Dominican Cabinet of Ministers, knows the importance of books for child development. As a young boy, he started getting in trouble at school because of the stress of a family situation at home. A special teacher saw his potential and began mentoring him and giving him books

Read on to hear more of his story.

Like anyone else, my childhood had its ups and downs. I am optimistic, so regardless of what I was going through while growing up, I remained confident and hopeful that I would become important and do great things. To get there, I spent a lot of time reading. My mum and aunty were very strict about it. They always said, “Reading is important. Knowledge is key.”

I live by this motto to this day.

Reading from a young age allowed me to understand the world. Books filled my mind with background knowledge so I could make sense of what I saw and heard around me and what I felt.

“Reading from a young age allowed me to understand the world.”

There are many advantages to reading. Reading improves our cognitive development, or how we perceive and think about the world in reference to our intelligence, reasoning, language development, and information processing. Growing up, I read fiction but also history books, biographies, science books, and many nonfiction books that taught me about the world. I fell in love with knowledge and being transported to a different world, era, or life. I was able to imagine myself as the characters or in the places I read about.

Reading these books kept me optimistic and hopeful about my future.


I want this experience for the boys in Dominica today. I believe that we need to work harder to build up their educations. Many of our young boys are failing in school. They are dropping out and going to the streets. They are distracted. There may be issues at home.

Many boys grow up believing they must be hard and defensive and to “act like a man.” But men are human. We become traumatized through difficult situations, but we’re supposed to suck it up.

How can we escape? Reading provides one answer. Books will open their minds to different worlds and new information. Reading will remind them that there is more to life than present circumstances. It would provide hope, motivation, and determination and provide opportunities for these boys to improve themselves.

Every day, we are losing our young boys, and the worst part is, many teachers and parents do not care.

Let me tell you what happened in my own life. During high school, I began to misbehave because of pressure and problems I faced at home. I felt lost, unheard, and misunderstood. My grades were low, and I had a negative attitude. I remember what it felt like to get in trouble in school, not because I was a bad kid, but because I was acting out due to pressures I faced at home.

How many boys today—or girls for that matter—face similar challenges that affect both mental health and learning? Home life greatly impacts boys’ behaviors and attitudes toward school and the outside world. Hurt manifests as anger. How many times are the boys in our schools acting out because of the pain they carry from issues at home or elsewhere?  Good teachers take the time to look beyond the anger to get curious and discover what’s happening behind it.

Lucky for me, I had one teacher who saw my potential. He knew that if I continued on the rebellious road, I would stray and become one of the lost boys—just another statistic. To this day, I am grateful for this teacher. Because of him, I am who I am today. He spoke to me, took care of me, and helped me with my school work and gave me books to read so I could imagine another way to live. Most importantly, he strengthened my faith.

These are the type of teachers we need in schools—teachers who will recognize when something is wrong with a student and are willing to help them and become a mentor so they reach their potential. And teachers who provide great books.

Two things saved me as a boy: someone who believed me, and books that expanded my knowledge and beliefs. Without a library to obtain books, I would have been lost. I would have stayed ignorant, become lazy, and lacked a strong work ethic.

Two things saved me as a boy: someone who believed me, and books that expanded my knowledge and beliefs.

Books provide so much more than escapism. They help students to increase knowledge. They expand vocabulary. They lead to stronger analytical thinking skills. They help improve memory and provide mental stimulation. These are long-term benefits. All of these benefits affect one’s ability to make decisions, communicate, and build relationships. Life without reading is no life at all.

A person who does not read indirectly limits themselves. How do you reach your full potential if your mind is not open to learning and growing? This creates the feeling of dependency, where an individual is constantly depending on another person to provide them with information, because they are unwilling to learn themselves. This can lead to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, because it makes one feel like he or she is not accomplishing anything, or that one is not good enough.

I am grateful for the people in my life who taught me how to read and introduced me to books that completely changed my life. It would be amazing to see more libraries built and providing resources and programs where children can learn to read and have access to reading materials. The kids today are our future. Do we want a future with people who are unable to make decisions, who can’t communicate or problem-solve? I doubt it. Do we want kids who are struggling at home to have no way out and believe that quitting school is their only option? Do we want more boys to end up on the streets? Reading to kids and making books available is one place to start.

So let’s make the change today. Let’s read with our children and open their minds to learning. Let’s pay attention to kids that struggle, enter into their lives, and introduce them to the healing power of books.

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