"For some reason my classmates do not believe me when I answer the question 'How did you get smart?' by pointing to the long list of books I have read since I began devouring them sometime around second grade...after truly examining my intellectual growth throughout the past 12 years, I accredit more than 50% of my knowledge to what I gleaned while reading books." (Brandon Dixon)
Brandon Dixon, a freshman at Harvard University and recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, wrote an essay about the connection between reading and good grades. For some reading is a luxury; for others a waste of time; for Brandon, it is a necessity. He accredits "more than 50% of [his] knowledge to what [he] gleaned while reading books."
Brandon points out that he doesn't pour over encyclopedias or dictionaries or textbooks -- he reads fiction. Novels serve as a gateway to the world. They peak his curiosity, prompting him to google a topic on the Internet or strike up a conversation with a budding scientist friend.
Novels serve as a microcosm for the greater society. Novels speak about the human condition. They help us understand and empathize with the characters and, in turn, with other people.
Brandon says he has learned leadership through the heroes in novels. He has also learned about good versus evil, about morality. He has learned that one person's definition of morality may vary from someone else's.
The recent graduate points out that through literature, he can do almost anything. "I have not physically experienced a lot of things in my life, but my mind has been places my body has never been..."
One might add that it was books that paved the way for Brandon to get into a prestigious school like Harvard. I'm sure we will hear more from this well-read young man.