Student desires more time for independent reading



This survey conducted through canvas indicts how students' reading habits have changed compared to the past.

Yuna Sato, Contributing Writer

I always considered myself a bookworm. Note the past tense.

Books have always been a large part of my life. Whenever I was asked, “What are your hobbies?” reading would be on the top of my list. Ever since I came to school, this all changed. The list I made to keep track of the books I have read abruptly grew shorter when I entered 9th grade and my reading obsession has gradually been replaced with other pastimes and hobbies. It is not that I do not want to read; it is that I cannot find the time.

The fact that the high school is an academically challenging school is no new revelation. It has already been established that the school sets high standards for the students. This is reflected in our heavy workload. Usually, I barely finish my assignments for the day and go to sleep at a reasonable time. This leaves me little to no time to read a book.

Of course, schoolwork is not the only thing taking away from reading time. Whenever I manage to find some free time, I am inevitably drawn to my phone or computer, which are always nearby. I drain away my remaining free time by watching YouTube videos or reading webcomics. Most of the time, I am not that interested in them. I solely click them to distract myself from the monotony of schoolwork. It has been difficult to sit down and actually read for a solid period of time. Obviously, we frequently read books in school for assignments. This gives me an opportunity to read books that I normally would not try and find ones that I really like.

Despite this, I am unable to fully enjoy reading required books because the readings are paired with questions and assignments. I understand that the additional work is supposed to help us understand the story and ensure that students actually do the required reading, but it turns reading into a chore. Instead of reading and understanding the passage as I normally would, the process turns into a search for the answers in the text. Reading should be used to educate, but it should also be presented as an enjoyable way to learn.

There are measures that both teachers and students can take to change this. For example, teachers could consider reserving a short section of class,  once a week, where students would be able to read. They could schedule trips to the library and could provide options for reading assignments. That way, students who need comprehension questions to help them understand the text and study for an assessment can utilize them, but students that do not need them are not required to use them. Some of these options involve taking time out of class, which is not always possible. However, they should be considered as ways to help students find time to read. Teachers are not the only ones that can enact change. Students who want to read more often but cannot find the time might benefit from setting manageable and specific goals. For instance, they could decide to read a book every month. This feels more doable than simply saying, “I want to read more.”

Overall, there are too many reasons why it is becoming harder and harder to read for fun, but there are things we can do to change this. Students and staff each have things they can do to help students have access to reading time, such as giving time for students to read. After all, according to Stephen King, “Books are a uniquely portable magic,” and it would be a shame if we were to lose that.