Reading–it’s worth the time

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Reading–it’s worth the time

Kiersten Olson, Staff Writer

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For many high schoolers, reading is a dreaded task. In fact, according to the American Psychology Association, only 20% of high school students report reading a book/magazine daily when not assigned to for class. Furthermore, the number of teens who said they “never” or “hardly ever” read over tripled from 1984 to 2014.


Though this change in statistics is attributed to a technological boom, the lack of interest in reading can also be blamed on how reading has been presented to students.


Because of class-assigned book reports and analyzing old texts, students have created an association in their minds between reading and boredom/stress. In short, it’s become an undesirable task, muddled with the rest of their homework.


But, what many students overlook is the fact that reading can be about more than books written in the 1800s. Books can be an outlet, or a hobby, rather than the required read for a Socratic seminar.


Dr. Jamie Culver, head of the library, is trying to give students the resources to learn that reading can be enjoyable, too.


“So many programs have been put in place,” Dr. Culver said. “It’s been very intentional to help students build momentum.”


This year, with the help of the St. Joseph Public Schools Foundation, the library has introduced a new color-coded system, organized by genre to help students find books that appeal to them more easily. Similarly, mini libraries have been placed into the English classes. These libraries on wheels give students the option to find books on shorter notice. In addition to this, the English department has implemented 10 minutes a day of free-read time to encourage students to continue finding and reading new books. The freedom for students to choose what they read during this time is aiming to help them enjoy reading and encourage them to continue this habit during the cracks of their days.


But why does this matter?


Starting with an academic outlook, it should come as no surprise that students who read more often perform better on tests. Students with a higher reading stamina are more capable of not only making it through the reading sections on the SAT and ACT, but scoring better as well.

Unsurprisingly, a lack of reading can dramatically decrease test scores. In direct correlation with reduced reading rates, the 2016 SAT reading scores were the lowest in all of recorded test history.


“The more you read, the more your reading comprehension will increase. It can really make a difference in reading proficiency and vocabulary,” Dr. Culver said.


But testing aside, it is important to read for pleasure too, or at least to try it out. Free reading is packed with benefits, one of which is that it’s a great source of personal growth. 


“Studies have shown that reading—especially fiction—builds empathy. It puts you into someone else’s shoes, it helps you experience something you wouldn’t have before. You’re thinking through scenarios and the complexities of life,” Dr. Culver said.


Not only does reading help you as an individual (through stress reduction, improved focus, improved memory, and other benefits), but it is a source of entertainment that is taken for granted. Even though we have streaming services at our disposal, reading is both more accessible and rewarding.


Firstly, reading is free. It costs $0.00 to walk into the highschool (or local) library and check out a book. The library can cater to any genre, length, and difficulty level. They have stories that could appeal to anybody; the key is looking to find them.


Once a book has been checked out, there’s a world of possibilities. Books are small, compact, and portable. They’re perfect for any situation. Whether it be curled up at home or traveling across the country, a book is a perfect companion. Books are an especially good choice because there are no charges for data or signals, unlike phones.


Each book submerges the reader into a different world, there are all-new characters, settings, and plots for every book. Plus, reading a book rather than watching a show unfold allows for the reader to create their own images. Visualizing words on a page gives the reader more liberty to see the story they want to.


Whether it be for self improvement, score improvement or just to unwind, a book is the perfect tool. So reading fanatic or not, everybody should take a stop by the library and enjoy browsing various novels, narratives, and magazines. There’s always something for everyone, no matter how many tries it takes to find it.