Why students don’t read as much, and why they should.
It has been scientifically proven upon many scientists that there is nothing but benefits for you when it comes to reading, but not many students know that. When it comes to reading, it increases your vocabulary, amazing and increased performance in memorization, decreases chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s, betters your concentration and focus, keeps your sharp, and essentially makes you more educated than you would think. We took a survey in all of Ms. Tyner’s classes on reading and some of Mr. students, 14% of the school population, and the students opinions on them. Roughly 71.8% of the 173 students who took the survey say that they do not read because they simply just hate it and don’t have all the extra time for it. Responses were given such as “My phone is too distracting and I hate it. I actually want to read more and wish I had the self discipline to.” to other things like “I find reading boring and it does you no good. I would rather use my time for something else than read. For example, instead of reading I could better use my time to complete my homework, study or my chores. I feel that reading should be banned and all books should be burned. Except, the bible that book is fun to read.” As opposed to this 71.8%, only 49 people voted that they do read and it’s a great escape for them and just takes them places in their imagination they would have never thought. What was really a good thing on top of that, is that 63 people voted that if they knew the real benefits of reading they would become more encouraged.
So what’s the underlying issue as to why students don’t read as much as they should?
“I don’t read because it is very difficult for me to be absorbed in a book if it is not a basic level of reading. I usually won’t be focused and have to reread things over and over if it isn’t something easy to read. I also use my phone in my free time so that prevents me from reading a book.”
“I don’t like reading because there are so many other things I can do for fun and reading is not one of them.”
“It is not interesting and I find it boring.”
One of our fellow interviewees here at PRHS, Ms. Tyner, was asked, “Do you think that if kids had their own choice to pick a novel or book for school they would be more interested in reading and be more proactive on their book assignments?“. Ms. Tyner simply replied and said “Sure, yeah I think that absolutely would encourage them more. I think people having autonomy in the choices they make makes them buy into their choices a lot more. Unfortunately, I cant just let students pick what books they read all year because that would run the risk of using books that are not at their grade level or students choosing books like Percy Jackson that they have already read every year and telling their English teachers they have never read a book that they actually have read before.” Tyner as well went on to say that all books in the curriculum every year for every grade have their own purpose.
For the record, in some aspects, reading in America has improved, but it’s also dependent on things as well like the environment you yourself are surrounded within, and how serious people take reading. While interviewing Ms. Tyner, she stated that she had always been reading since she was a little girl: “Age wise, I have been encouraged to read for a really long time. My father was an English teacher too, so he made sure that I was reading from when I was really really young, and my sister and I would read to each other at night before bed. Reading has always been something encouraged at home and school for me, that’s part of the reason I love to read.” Tyner as well went on to say, “I think that if there is a positive environment around a student where they have choice, or at least times where they have times that they can chose what to read, and reading is presented as a good thing and not a punishment that could totally influence students to read more which is great.” Studies from WCPO Cincinnati states that if you read to your child for 20 minutes everyday, they’ll have read for 851 hours by the time of 6th grade, and by then they will have statistically have higher grades and be 90% higher and above all their peers. Even proven analyses from School Leaders Now states that more than 9.9 million students found that only those who read for 15 minutes or more a day had accelerated gains, while other students who don’t read at least 15 minutes a day, or even a week, are more likely to be at risk of falling behind or being below average.
What are the true benefits of reading?
Now that we have covered everything else about reading, let’s get to the benefits. Reading can help improve you for the better in several aspects. Reading itself can even increase your lifespan. People who read books—fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose—for as little as 30 minutes a day for several years were living an average of two years longer than people who didn’t read anything at all. Book readers who reported more than three hours of reading each week were 23 percent less likely to die between 2001 and 2012 than their peers who read only newspapers or magazines, according to Culture Benefits of Reading. Science itself has gone to prove to us that reading prevents many other things as well such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s by 2 and a half times, which is huge. Based off of studies at UC-Berkeley, exposure to new, or higher vocabulary from reading can do more than just heighten test scores, but it can also expand your intelligence overall. Studies from all around will tell you reading expands your vocabulary, sharpens you, improves your concentration, and after just one chapter of reading within one week you will end up being more empathetic and have more emotional intelligence bettering their human interaction. A study done on 300 people who died around the age of 89 discovered that those of the 300 who were engaging in mental activities like reading for example had a slower reading decline than the other 211 who did not read frequently, those who read processed things 48% faster, all according to Writing Cooperative.
When one of our fellow English teachers here at PRHS was interviewed, Ms. Tyner, simply stated that “I think that if we’re thinking of it as something positive or as something we can escape it’s totally game changing.”