Throughout high school, students are forced to read and analyze many books. Does this make students dislike reading all together, or does it encourage them to read and learn more?
The effects that books have on students’ feelings towards reading are definitely varied.
However, one main consensus is that the heavy reading of high school English curriculums impairs students from reading because they spend time reading books for school, rather than for themselves.
“I still enjoy reading as much as I did,” says Pentucket Sophomore Alanna Joachim, “but I don’t have enough time because I’m reading books for school. So, I guess it’s hurting my ability to read and to enjoy it.”
Pentucket Sophomores Gabby Blake and Emily McFarland both have hard times reading due to their busy schedules. Since both girls have dance every day of the school week, they both agree they have no time to read because they barely have free time as it is, and any free time that could be spent on reading for fun is usually spent reading for school.
“I read a ton of books,” says Blake. “One summer, I read 42 of them. But now, I have no time, so I can’t read the books that I want to read because I have to read the books that I’m forced to read. Yeah, they’re good, but I’d rather choose to read them than be forced to.”
She added, “If I had the time, I would read even more than I do. Really, I can only read during the summer or over vacation when I have time.”
Many students agree that they would read a lot more if they weren’t already reading books for school.
The work that students have done in school is also another factor that leads to students disliking reading.
Blake said, “Some of the books we read are good, but some we overanalyzed to death *cough* A Separate Peace *cough*.”
She added, “I want to read a book, I don’t want to have to stop to take notes every five seconds. I want to enjoy it, and read just because I Iike reading, not because I’m forced to.”
Blake also said, “A Separate Peace killed my entire summer, and then we got back to school and overanalyzed it for a solid three months. It was horrible and I still have war flashbacks.”
Joachim had a similar experience. She explained that whenever she was reminded of A Separate Peace, she suffered from PTSD.
Madi Codair, another Pentucket sophomore, described the book as a “nuisance” that “took forever.”
Many students also agree that Of Mice and Men was not a very enjoyable book to read. Joachim said that even though it was short, “It felt like it went on forever.”
McFarland, when asked about books she read in school, said, “A Separate Peace! It was terrible! It’s a terrible book, I hated the book, and then we had to write blog posts and essays and discuss it for like three months. It was terrible.”
Codair said, “I always feel like we have to overdo it. Once I read it I’m good, I don’t need to spend three months analyzing it. Just move on.”
While the essays create problems for students, exams may be even more destructive. Codair said, “I hate being tested on books! I feel like there is no point because the small details of a book will never help us in our lives later.”
There is also the problem of people using other sources, such as Sparknotes or Shmoop, as a substitute for a book rather than reading it. This creates a disrespect for the writing itself because people read summaries rather than the writing itself.
However, some of the activities students have done in school have proven to have good effects.
Almost all students agreed that The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, was a great book, and many said that it inspired them to read more. Joachim and Blake both read Hosseini’s second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.
“A Thousand Splendid Suns was a great book,” says Joachim. “And I don’t think I would have read it if we didn’t read The Kite Runner this year.”
The analysis skills that students have learned to do also seems to make reading much more enjoyable.
Regarding books, Blake said, “I didn’t realize before high school that there is a lot more stuff in them. I wasn’t really good at analyzing them, but now I can pick up on things like symbols and figurative language. So in that way, it has helped my reading because I do enjoy it more now that I can see it on a deeper level.”
Joachim said, “Now I can recognize when the book I am reading has a deeper side to it. It actually makes it way more fun to read.”
So, does the reading that kids have to do in school have good or bad effects? You decide.