Reading repels students, attracts others

Iris Wright, Staff Writer

From newspapers to social media, and from books to tablets, reading has developed with time. Many students can invent hundreds of excuses to avoid books, but others would endure a dramatic lifestyle change without them.

“I love reading! I love being immersed in fictitious worlds created in books,” sophomore Anna Rowzee, an avid reader, said.

As new technology and busy schedules take up teens’ lives, the amount adolescences read has lessened. According to Time magazine, from 1984 to 2014 the percent of 17-year-olds who hardly ever read for pleasure went from 9 percent to 27 percent.

“I think not enough teens read,” sophomore Claire Palmer said. “But it’s most likely because teens don’t see the point in reading.”

School already demands seven hours, five days a week, plus the time students spend in extra-curricular activities and completing assignments. Reading takes focus, and often teens find other ways to spend their time.

“I spend hours at times reading the same book,” junior Sam Jackson said. “[Teenager’s] reading habits have decreased in preference of video games, television and social media.”

Even though it takes up precious time, many people see value in reading, such as improved intellect.

“Reading expands a person’s vocabulary and improves their memory and imagination,” Rowzee said.

Since intelligence is often measured by tests that require reading, it makes sense that it appears to be an indication of smarts. Many occupations also require reading abilities.

“Inevitably in your life you are going to be reading and filling out paperwork, so it is useful,” sophomore Payton Irwin said.

However, reading can also excel a person’s ability to interact with others and assess real-life situations. A 2005 study at the University of Toronto suggested reading fiction can improve social skills and empathy.

“The more familiar you are with words and situation of others, the more you will be able to adjust to situations in your life,” Irwin said.

Many students read not just for enjoyment, but also to learn information and stay up-to-date with the events in their country and world.

“The more you read, the more you know,” Palmer said.

When resources do not stare a young adult in the face, though, the student is likely to miss out on them. It comes down to convenience, which is why schools have libraries and public libraries are government funded.

“How is someone supposed to read if they don’t have access to books?” Palmer said.

More convenient than a local library or bookstore, many books are available for download on mobile devices. Many are even free or can be read straight off the internet on a PDF.

“Since this is the age of technology, if more books were available online I think more people would read more of them,” Jocelyn Scott, sophomore, said.

Even with books surrounding students, they may still neglect reading except when necessary for school assignments.

“Having access to books does not necessarily mean teens will read more,” Rowzee said. “If a person does not want to read, they will not read.”

Since there are so many reasons to read, the question remains as to why many teens dread picking up a book. One reason is simple disinterest paired with an abundance of distractions.

“It’s just the motivation and the want to read that some lack,” Scott said. “Teens nowadays are so consumed by their phones and the media that they might feel as if they don’t need to read.”

Many teens spend significantly more time reading social media feeds than reading books. This type of reading demands less commitment and is organized in easy-to-consume burst of information.

“Social media feeds are more condensed reading meant for purely entertainment and sometimes information,” Jackson said.

Another reason teens avoid books is linked to experiences reading in academic settings. For English class, everyone must read works they would likely not have chosen outside of school.

“[I would rather read] on my own, because then I can pick books that I won’t find boring and there isn’t stress to finish,” Palmer said.

When students are forced to read they are more likely to look at reading as burdensome.

“When I was younger teachers were happy I was reading at all; now I’m forced to read Shakespeare, which isn’t very fun at all,” Irwin said.

Students are far more likely to enjoy what they read when they have the freedom to choose.

“Everyone likes different things,” senior Allie Wilczek, essayist and poet, said. “It’s hard for me to get into a book and read it if I’m not interested.”

No matter how much a student dislikes analyzing assigned books, the skills taught through reading are meant to serve a student when they leave school.

“I like learning about the different elements of literature, but I don’t like having to read on a deadline,” senior Emilee Rowzee said.

One approach to reading is to remember that assigned reading is for dissection, while reading elsewhere is for enjoyment, escape and quenching curiosity.
“[reading] is like living another life,”Wilczek said.