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The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

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High School Destroys Student Enjoyment in Reading

High+schoolers+enjoy+reading+far+less+now+than+at+a+younger+age.+%28Hardik+Singhal%29
High schoolers enjoy reading far less now than at a younger age. (Hardik Singhal)

I loved reading books as a kid. My elementary school held a book reading competition amongst the different school houses where students were incentivized to read as many new books as possible. To dispel boredom, my best friend and I read topics we actually enjoyed.

My house ended up winning that competition by a mile, largely because of the hundreds of books that my friend and I read alone. 

After I discovered the Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, I always found time to read for a solid hour at night, and many times even longer. Listening to music while diving into the world of Hogwarts was one of my favorite pastimes. 

That enjoyment was crushed when I entered high school.

At Deer Path Middle School, any assigned reading was followed by a choice of whichever book you wanted to read. If there was an assigned analytical essay, you had the individual freedom to pick your book. There were only two mandated reads throughout the four years I was there, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Giver, both reasonably enjoyable for middle schoolers.

At LFHS, there hasn’t been one class where we got to read our own personally chosen books as part of the curriculum. Instead, we were forced to read the boring Catcher in the Rye and the incomprehensibly extravagant Shakespeare plays, books that I highly doubt many high schoolers would read for their own enjoyment.

Most students don’t have the time or willpower to read several chapters every night, especially when the book is torturing their brains. I understand the purpose of assigning books that inhibit more advanced literary analysis, but it’s 2023. 

You need to excel in several AP classes to get yourself the slightest chance of going to a top university. With this being said, what’s the typical student going to do? Will they read the chapters each night when they find no pleasure in doing so, or will they focus on their other classes and resort to SparkNotes for a quick summary, preventing any critical analysis?

The way I see it, the answer to that question is quite obvious. 

Teachers need to assign their essays or discussion posts on books students will actually read. Simply offering the choice goes a long way in whether a student decides to put in the work or rely on an outside tool. 

Will SparkNotes still be used? Of course. Finding a way to get every student to read and not simply search for a summary is impossible. But there will be a significantly higher number of students who genuinely open up a book and read. 

Let’s face it, students won’t read at all if it isn’t a requirement, nor will they read if they don’t enjoy the material. People aren’t interested in reading a play from hundreds of years ago. However, giving them an incentive to read what they are passionate about not only increases the likelihood they read, but it would arguably lead to more critical thinking and growth in knowledge. 

The lack of literacy extends to a deeper issue than just high school. If students lose their enjoyment in reading, they are unlikely to ever pick it back up. According to LiteracyInc, 56% of students in the United States claim to read less than 10 books each year, which leads to the 80% of adults not purchasing a book this year. 

Reading is an essential part of the brain’s development in communication and focus, but with boring books, students miss out on that progress. Schools need to bring back the sheer enjoyment in reading we had as kids, or else many will go their whole lives after middle school without ever picking up a book.

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About the Contributor
Joining The Forest Scout for the second year, senior Hardik Singhal  writes and designs in the niche of sports media and journalism. As a big Packers and football fan, he runs Packersice on Instagram where he’s captivated an audience of over 11,000 followers. He plays Varsity soccer for LFHS and enjoys worrying about fantasy football 24/7. His interest in sports inspired him to takeover the sports beats of LFHS.
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Comments (3)

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  • L

    LFHS LibrarianDec 8, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Hardik! It can be so hard for high schoolers to find time to read on their own, and feeling personally engaged with what you read helps so much with motivation. You guys have such busy lives and so many things competing for your attention. Librarians often joke how we wish there were a high school version of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” since so many students connected with it when they were younger!

    For any LFHS student or staff member who wants an easy way to fit a bit of reading in throughout the day, log in to soraapp dot com with your school account for our selection of ebooks and audiobooks. Install the app on your phone and you’ve got an easy to way to read during downtime when you’d otherwise scroll on your phone. I find that being able to listen or read easily on the go is often the only way I’ll manage to do it.

    Reply
  • J

    JasonDec 8, 2023 at 9:00 am

    This may be a bad idea. After all, what teacher would want to have a student try to write a literary analysis of TM 31-210 Improvised Munitions Handbook?

    Reply
    • M

      meDec 14, 2023 at 1:42 pm

      who is going to read a TM 31-20 Improvised muitions handbook. there would/should be restriction on what you can read.

      Reply