Why Not Read? Part 2

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by Kezia Burgoyne

In the previous article, “Why Not Read,” the reasons why some students decide not to read were explained. Many students acknowledged the inconvenience of obtaining and carrying around a paper book, and phones were noted as a potential distraction that shortens student’s attention span and willingness to read books. In part two of this article, the technological and academic side will be examined, as well as potential solutions will be presented to encourage reading in and outside of school, before books go extinct.

Sure, some students read for fun, and some don’t. Regardless of the reasons, it’s an individuals’ choice. But from an academic standpoint, reading outside of school might just be in a student’s best interest. “[Reading has]  helped to read assignments and such faster, and helped me understand grammar usage more,” says freshman Bradley Dewey. Another pupil, 9th grader Kelsen Owens said, “[You learn] new words, [and] what’s going on around the world.”  Many other students recognized improvements in vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills well in school as a result of outside reading.  However, one student, freshman Eve Hart, expressed different point of view, and said that although she reads, it hasn’t improved her performance in academic studies “at all,” simply because “teachers don’t require it.”

Although this may be true in some cases, English teachers did notice improvements in grades when it came to students who read outside of school. “[kids who read] ideas are organized; They articulate more clearly,” says Ms. Anne Alves, an 8th grade English teacher, “The kids who read a lot outside of school can infer and ask level three questions.” Ms. Alves went on to say that students who don’t read are challenged with these skills. The question scale she refers to is a teaching method that Ms. Alves utilizes to help her students ask questions that promote discussion and consists of three levels, with the first being simple and easy and the third being complicated and rigorous.

Mr. Shah Bento, an AP Literature teacher, expressed, “[Reading] helps in academic studies, certainly in English.” When referring to a student’s point of view, Mr. Greg Kamisato, another high school English instructor, stated, “Generally, when you read, you are a good writer, because you have seen [examples of] good writing.” Many students and teachers agree that no matter one’s interest in reading, experiencing literature significantly assists students when it comes to academics. With the long run in sight, it’s truly puzzling why more students prefer not to simply read the library.

In the previous article, it was suggested that with the onslaught of technology that threatens to overtake this generation, comes a shortened attention span that may cause many teenagaers to consider reading boring. However, although technology seems to be blamed for many students’ disregard for literature, for some, there is a clever solution: ebooks. Digital literature that is lightweight, and cost less than paper books, as well as is especially designed to suit a student’s appreciation for technology. Kelsen Owens said, “Even though books are not as popular anymore, [ebooks] are great because they will never die out.”  Kelsen also observed how the attaining of an ebook is instantaneous and can be listened to while multitasking. Mr. Bento, an English teacher, also suspects that the younger generation would be more motivated to read from a digital source because they grew up with technology. However, many students disagreed, saying that the experience of reading a paper book is much more enjoyable than staring at an electronic screen. “You need to turn [paper books, and] flip through the pages,” said one student. Another student, 9th grader Taumana Caicedo-Rapu, protests against digital literature, saying, “[Digital books] hurt your eyes after staring at a screen for such a long time . . . I think they should continue printing paper books, because paper books are the best kind of book.”

Even though reading may improve student’s academic skills, there are millenials who choose to either partake of literature (electronic or not) and those who don’t. Those who don’t read may be distracted with technology, school work, family, or other limiting factor. Based on these facts, students and teachers were questioned on what actions, if any, should be put in place concerning student’s interest in books for the future. Overall, many students expressed that campaigning for preserving paper books, as well as setting a specific time aside for reading during the school week would be an ideal change that would help promote teenager’s interest in literature. One freshman said that she wants to read during class, while another stated, “I really think we should work to preserve paper books and get kids to read more.” To add to this, one English teacher stated, “A designated time for reading in school would be beneficial.”

The past state of reading in schools is something we can’t change. But the future is a brown-eyed bluebird trapped in the palms of our own limitations, just waiting for us to open our fingers and release her into a black-and white sky of imagination and words.

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