To Kill a Marvelous Book


Abbygail Reid

Madison Dalton, Staff Writer

When all of the hoopla regarding reading’s benefits and all of the emphasis on studies and reading gains subside, one fact remains: if students do not enjoy reading, they will not read.  At least not in the long run, when the greatly detested school projects and book reports fade away. With both sides on this issue agreeing that an “overwhelming number of high school students” do not want reading requirements, the fact that reading can help students is no match for the fact that when these students grow up, they simply won’t read.

California school librarian Ellen Phillips, from Saddleback Valley Unified School District in Mission Viejo, writes, “My feeling about ‘free reading time’ is that it has to be free. We sometimes drive some kids to hate reading by making them do something after they finish a book — make a diorama or write a book report.”

This same mindset is reflected in our own school. When asked what effect reading reports and projects have on her, freshman Nicole Linn replied, “It pretty much makes me hate reading.”  She went on to explain how increasing work as she reached higher grade levels only amplified her dislike for reading.

When students see reading as a requirement and associate it with activities they dislike, we can hardly expect them to read as adults, when no one is forcing them to anymore.  According to the New York Times, “Americans — particularly young Americans — appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining[…]a new report being released today by the National Endowment for the Arts found that fewer than half ofAmericans over 18 read novels, short stories, plays, or poetry.”

Insanity is trying the same failed method over and over again, thinking that eventually it will work.  A 2007 MSNBC poll shows that one in four adults don’t read.  As the number of people in the U.S. who read for fun steadily drops, it becomes evident that our current method of reading requirements is not just ineffective, but actually detrimental to student reading, and thus students’ futures as a whole.