There is a distinction between command line arguments and standard input. A pipe will connect standard output of one process to standard input of another. So
ls | echo
Connects standard output of ls to standard input of echo. Fine right? Well, echo ignores standard input and will dump its command line arguments - which are none in this case to - to its own stdout. The output: nothing at all.
There are a few solutions in this case. One is to use a command that reads stdin and dumps to stdout, such as cat.
ls | cat
Will 'work', depending on what your definition of work is.
But what about the general case. What you really want is to convert stdout of one command to command line args of another. As others have said,
xargs is the canonical helper tool in this case, reading the command line args for a command from its stdin and constructing commands to run.
ls | xargs echo
You could also use the substitution command
$() to do what you want.
Both of these tools are pretty core to shell scripting, you should learn both.
For completeness, as you indicate in the question, the other base way to convert stdin to command line args is the shell's builtin
read command. It converts "words" (words as defined by the
IFS variable) to a temp variable, which you can use in any command runs.