by Kezia Burgoyne
Over the years, Waialua High and Intermediate School has experienced many librarians come and go, each having served valiantly when helping students find the perfect book to read. However, as the school is evolving, one solid fact stands: Student’s interest in reading is wavering. Now, when one enters the school’s library, rows of students can be viewed on computers whilst completing various assignments and not paying the literature that surrounds them a single glance. Meanwhile, the librarian faithfully sits at an empty desk, waiting for anyone who requires her services. Upperclassmen state that they haven’t so much as opened a book since their middle school years and
back. Part of the library has also been relocated to make room for the new College Career and Resource Center. By no means are the recent developments in technology bad, but there is no denying that books are becoming more and more scarce as time continues its journey. Throughout it all, one question lingers: Why?
When readers were asked why they find reading so desirable, many relayed the feeling of being, “Lost in a book,” as well as experiencing new adventures and learning life lessons. “I read for the language, the way the author writes, and the adventure behind it,” said Taumana Caicedo-Rapu, a freshman at Waialua High School. Another freshman, Savannah Jansen, began an enthusiastic rant of her enjoyment of the “knowledge, fictional fantasies, and growth of imagination,” that she gains from poring over novels. On the other the hand, students who don’t read books outside of school justified their relationship with literature with words like, “heavy,” “expensive,” and “time-consuming.” Even though public libraries compensate for the financial downside of reading, many students still find reading unappealing. The rise of academic pressure is also a contributing factor of the decrease of literature in today’s society.
“Reading is time-consuming, and it’s hard to find a book you actually want to read,” said senior Densen Vidad-Albeso. Junior Hannah Bartlett declared, “I find reading very boring – it puts me to sleep.” Eighth grade English teacher, Ms. Anne Alves, suggested that because reading is generally an individual activity, and many students are used to group activities, students find it difficult to focus on a piece of writing independent of a classroom full of clashing ideas. After all these opinions are clearly displayed, curiosity nags for an answer: Why are some high-schoolers captivated by crisp, ink-covered pages, while others drift off to sleep under the influence of emotionless, cold words on paper?
Ms. Alves gave her reasoning, saying, “A lot of students don’t expect anything from reading – there are no consequences of not reading, so students don’t read.” Ms. Alves also observed how a lot of the English curriculum is focused mainly on informational text, and only one book is read per school year, per grade. She said that with this constant leaping from informational article to informational article of action-filled fact, as well as with phones occupying many student’s spare time, students are losing the necessary attention span required to read a novel. She states, “When you ask a kid who is used to this lifestyle, to sit and read for one hour, they find it hard.”
Mr. Shah Bento, the Expository Writing teacher, added to this idea, recognizing that books aren’t as present in school, as well as crediting this to the, “advent of television and visual forms of entertainment.” Hannah Bartlett, who admitted to having a short attention span that directly limits her enjoyment of reading, said, “Everyone has phones now, and they would rather go on social media then read books.” Hannah also illustrated this by comparing both herself and her brother, who doesn’t own a phone and reads, whereas Hannah carries a phone with her everywhere she goes, and doesn’t enjoy books as much. Many other students attribute the shrinking interest in reading to technology, and said phrases like, “Books have been replaced by a cell phone,” and, “Millennials like technology more [than reading].” The shrinking of high-schoolers interest in literature could very well be attributed to the scattered lifestyle many millennials struggle to balance daily, as well as the oncoming breakthroughs in technology. Although technology is not inherently bad, it is important to maintain a balance between the cell phone and other forms of entertainment.
Reading is loved by many high schoolers as well as disliked by a host of teenagers. Regardless, it is entirely one’s choice whether they want to read or not. Even so, readers are encouraged to pick up a book and flip through the pages. Who knows, you might just become entranced with the luscious literature yourself.