Reading

Before I begin this post, I’d like to reiterate the point that I am no expert in anything, I am just a frustrated kid.

Something I’d like to address is reading. I understand statistics show many kids don’t meet the reading standards for their respective grades, I get that. Something I want to address here though isn’t the basic learning of reading, but is the more advance analysis/comprehension/enjoyment/many many other things reading offers, and why I don’t think school does a good job allowing kids to be immersed in books.

Another thing, I love reading. From the time I learned in elementary school to probably the middle of middle school, I would read a book a week. From the Alex Rider series, to Dan Brown, and many more, I loved it. My mom and my grandma both had a big role in my learning to love reading, but as I aged my love dwindled aside from when sequels to my favorite series, or other exciting books came out. I can’t put my finger on one thing as to why my love for it dwindled, but right now I can say I’m making an effort to get it back.

I can go in to why I think story, creativity, and just pure entertainment are important, but that can be a whole post in itself. For this I want to talk about why I think many kids just plain dislike reading, and why I often find it hard to get myself immersed in a book.

Yes, maybe the technological arguments make sense. Phones, computers, internet, Facebook, whatever. I use these things a lot, but I really don’t see that as much of a problem, feeling connected is a good thing and something we all strive to feel. Time though, I would say is a big thing, especially with homework and assignments, I think we all know that feeling of not being able to do anything else if we feel that we have to be doing homework. Again, maybe you’ll call me a procrastinator, but I think it is good to do other things with one’s time than just studying and homework. When you have an exam, project, take home quiz, etc. you have to do. . . the other things you want are impossible to start. That is a big problem but I think the reason reading suffers comes down to something else, and that is an attitude.

We of course have an attitude about reading, and it goes much deeper than just thinking it is “nerdy”, because I personally wouldn’t care if it was nerdy. No, the attitudes run deeper than that, and I think reading is viewed as only a scholarly thing, as a chore, a boring thing that can be outdone by action movies.

Okay, maybe you attribute it to laziness, but I think that too, simplifies the problem. Maybe I don’t know the problem, but I think that how reading is taught in school can play a role. For instance, usually old books, with language one can hardly understand, are analyzed for allusions, metaphors, and author’s style, to a point where the beauty of the story is lost. The ins and outs of a character’s mind aren’t used to reflect on oneself, but merely a list to be memorized and used on a multiple choice question, or on an structured and formatted essay. Author’s purpose becomes a dirty thing, where the author is on one side or the other of a larger conflict presented in a story, and the thoughts in their heads are lost.

Of course this fallout many experience, or don’t have a chance to experience, with reading is part of the bigger complex problem. One of the things that should happen with reading has to be an end to the oversimplification in reading a story. We can’t read for only the sake of making obscure observations and passing the test, but read to entertain yourself, or to learn something. The deeper understanding of the story will come then.

Note: As you can tell all the problems I bring up in my posts can’t be attributed to any one thing and therefore can be seen as impossible to solve. But I disagree with that, we need solutions to these things that are overarching, change in policies, but also changes in attitudes and practices.

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7 comments
  1. zgsactress said:

    I absolutely adore reading. It is one of my favorite hobbies. I completely agree with everything that you say in your post, especially with your observation that time is a big factor in the lack of reading for fun. Much to my chagrin, I find myself going days without reading a book of my choice, simply because I have too much other work to do. However, my school addressed this issue over the summer and, instead of assigning summer homework, we were told to read at least two independent reading books (not at all an issue for me!). Many of my friends who did not have enough time to read books on a regular basis truly appreciated this opportunity, and I hope my school continues to do this in future summers (and potentially on occasions throughout the year!).

    • I have many of the same experiences. I mean for me. . . time is the issue, but another issue is feeling like I can’t do anything fun if I have assignments hanging over me!

      • zgsactress said:

        Exactly. But so many of the things I have learned in life have come from reading books, so I just have to make time for reading!

      • I agree! I hope others learn to feel the same way you do about reading.

  2. zgsactress said:

    Me too!

  3. great and deep thoughts, my friend. I agree with you. It’s a bit of it all. Background, upbringing, attitude, education… About technology, I’d like to share this poem by Roald Dahl, which you might know. Here it is: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/television/ – If you already know it, then reading it again won’t hurt!
    In regards to the analysis of novels, I’d say that’s one of the things that makes them interesting, but that may have to do with the fact that I’m studying to become an English major.
    Finally, if you have some problems finding a good read, a page-turner that will revive your love for literature, then my suggestion is that you read without discriminating as much as you can, from different author and genres. Perhaps there’s some writer whose work you haven’t got acquainted yet, and there’s you have your excuse. You could check lists of best sellers.
    Thank you for your insights, they were quite pleasant to read. Best of luck and good reading!

    • There is a funny headline by the Onion that said “TV helps build valuable looking skills”. Roald Dahl would certainly enjoy that line. I still love movies and some TV though!

      There is nothing wrong with analysis, but its the way it is gone about in school that just makes reading an annoyance.

      Thank you for that advice! I really appreciate it. Lately I’ve been enjoying reading again.

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