The history of reading dates to the invention of writing during the 4thmillennium BC. Although reading print text is now an important way for the generalpopulation to access information, this has not always been the case. With someexceptions, only a small percentage of the population in many countries wasconsidered literate before the Industrial Revolution. Some of the pre-modern societieswith generally high literacy rates included classical Athens and the Islamic Caliphate.
Scholars assume that reading aloud (Latin clare legere) was the more commonpractice in antiquity, and that reading silently (legere tacite or legere sibyl) was unusual.In his Confessions, Saint Augustine remarks on Saint Ambrose’s unusual habit ofreading silently in the 4th century AD.During the Age of Enlightenment, elite individuals promoted passive reading,rather than creative interpretation. Reading has no concrete laws, but let’s readersescape to produce their own products introspectively, promoting deep exploration oftexts during interpretation. Some thinkers of that era believed that construction or thecreation of writing and producing a product, was a sign of initiative and activeparticipation in society-and viewed constructors made.
Also, during this era, writingwas considered superior to reading in society. They considered readers of that timepassive citizens because they did not produce a product. Michel de certeau argued thatthe elites of the Age of Enlightenment were responsible for this general belief. Michelde Certeau believed that reading required venturing into an author’s land but takingaway what the reader wanted specifically. This view held that writing was a superiorart to reading within the hierarchical constraints of the era.In 18th-century Europe, the then new practice of reading alone in bed was, fora time, considered dangerous and immoral. As reading became less a communal, oralpractice, and more a private, silent one-and as sleeping increasingly moved fromcommunal sleeping areas to individual bedrooms, some raised concern that reading inbed presented various dangers, such as fires caused by bedside candles.
Some moderncritics, however, speculate that these concerns were based on the fear that readersespecially women-could escape familial and communal obligations and transgressmoral boundaries through the private fantasy worlds in books. (Lambert, n.d.)