Reading 101

Do teenagers still read?


Photo by Melina Tripoli

Melina Tripoli, Staff Writer

Whenever you see the humongous stacks of books lined up on the front table in English class, you know what day it is. It’s the day when your teacher is handing out the next reading assignment. Now, almost everyone dreads this day. You hear half the class groaning and protesting even touching the book. You have some students who look at the book like it’s going to eat them alive. Then finally, you have a couple who may actually be happy or even a little interested in reading it. Reading seems to be something people are slowly losing interest in. It’s also getting harder to encourage students to read books when they are so uninterested.

I remember I didn’t always like reading and looking at all those thick books. In sixth grade, the AR assignments were something I always dreaded doing. I would never finish the book on time and just hope for a good score on the test. Maybe I would even ask a friend about the plot because I wasn’t fully invested in what I was reading. 

I believe that the books we end up reading in English classes make reading into an activity that many students don’t like doing anymore. Sure, throughout each grade, I feel that the books have gotten more interesting, and I actually end up enjoying them. However, whenever we read something that’s ancient and hard to understand, no one actually likes reading. Yes, Shakespeare wrote some great tragedies. But, is it really that fun to read his writing when you’re constantly switching between the text and No Fear Shakespeare just to understand what the lines mean?

Thankfully, there were at least one or two books everyone seemed to enjoy each year. Freshmen year, the one book I enjoyed more than the others was To Kill a Mockingbird. Junior year, I liked three out of four of the books we read. Obviously, it’s hard to please everyone and teachers still have to stick to the curriculum, but I just remember some of those books being so difficult to read that I couldn’t even understand what the main point was. At that point, it just becomes harder and harder to enjoy reading.  

Deep down, though, I feel everyone likes reading. It’s all about finding that one book or genre that sparks your interest. If you keep reading books that you hate, don’t understand, or are forced to read then, of course, you’re always going to dread even looking at books. 

For the longest time, reading was never my thing. I was one of those people who would look at the book hoping it would magically disappear if I stared at it hard and long enough. But one day during seventh grade, we were picking out our book for that month’s AR and I listened to a friend who told me about a book I just had to read. She said it was amazing and that I would love it even if I didn’t like reading. I took her word and decided to grab the book Cinder. She was right, and I absolutely loved the book. If you asked anyone, they would have told you I was reading it 24/7. After I finished it, I read the next two books one after the other. For two months straight, I was reading that series until I ran out of books. 

All it took was finding the right book. I went from hating seeing the books that were put in my hands to reading series I never thought I would touch. Reading is different for each person, but, once you find that one book, reading is actually wonderful. Trust me, I have a bookcase that is so much bigger than I ever imagined, filled with books that I never tire of. 

Reading was a challenge for me. I went from being told I’ll never be good at it and only reading uninteresting books to finally finding a book that made me feel like I was inside the story, standing beside the main character. Reading shouldn’t be something you should be ashamed of liking, and reading a book shouldn’t be something we always have to analyze and remember for a test. Pick up a book every now and then to just learn, get lost in a story, or to escape the real world for a moment. To quote the great Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”.