Monday, 15th July 2024

Monday, 15th July 2024

Three Big Reasons to Read

05 Nov 2018

He’s worked with top-flight investment bankers, and funded several tech start-ups. One thing he finds common among the most successful people: They have good reading habits.


Reading may not be as fashionable as it used to be, but David Toh feels its benefits are timeless. The Chief Technology Officer of NTU’s business incubator fondly remembers being brought by his parents to the libraries and bookstores every few weeks to get a new book, and sharing with them what he learned. He offers the following reasons for why you should consider doing the same with your children:

1. To discover interests at an early age

What does your child want to do when she grows up? Chances are it’s something she’s seen people do in real life or on television. Maybe she wants to take after her own daddy and mummy. But why limit her thinking to her own immediate experience? “As children grow, they may develop an obsession for different things,” says David. “When I was young, I wanted to be an airline pilot, but it was just a phase. To make sure children aren’t overly fixated on one thing, encourage them to explore other areas. Get them to read widely and develop their curiosity quotient.”

2. To open up more opportunities at work

Eventually, your child may graduate in a specific field like computing, philosophy or social work. Her studies may serve her well in her first job, but what happens if a fantastic opportunity opens up in a different area, or her employer goes out of business? “People who are well-read are better able to switch and move careers. If you have no knowledge, there is fear. If you have some knowledge, you can build on that and do different things.” David has no shortage of examples of well-read individuals who have excelled, from the telephone salesman who became the top performer at his company in an investment bank, to computer enthusiasts who won MIT global competitions in programming, despite not having degrees in the field.

3. To stay relevant all your life

What will your child be doing when she’s 75? There’s a decent chance she’ll still be working. Not because she’s hard up for the money—it could simply be because she will be living much longer by then, due to medical advances. But David points out that longer careers require constant upgrading.

“We have this misconception that a university education will set you for life,” David says. The idea that what you learn in school by the age of 23 (or 25 for Singaporean males) will be sufficient for you to work 40 or 50 years, is a gross miscalculation.” Even at the age of 51, David still takes online courses to help with his work. Since your child will have to keep learning over the course of her life, David’s advice is to get them started on the habit early: “It is only from healthy reading habits, that constant yearning for knowledge, that you develop the inclination to continuously improve yourself for the rest of your life.”