The Student News Site of Saratoga High School

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Students should not abandon pleasure reading

When I used to drag my dad to the library each week, I would arrive home hoisting a jumbled tower of historical fiction and mystery novels. I had “Artemis Fowl” and “The Hobbit,” “Ella Enchanted” and “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.”  I was one of those kids who read all the time, whether it was in the car or with a flashlight under the covers at night, and, of course, I reread the Harry Potter series countless times.

Now that I am a sophomore on the newspaper staff, one would expect me to be an avid reader. Yet I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t recall the last time I picked up a book to read for fun.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed this same trend among my peers; it seems that everyone I’m surrounded by simply doesn’t read for pleasure anymore.

According to a Project Cornerstone survey administered to over 38,000 Californian students in fall of 2010, 63 percent of elementary school students read for pleasure, whereas only 23 percent of high school students read for pleasure. Additional Project Cornerstone surveys conducted at Saratoga High reveal that 28 percent of SHS students read for pleasure in 2006, but only 20 percent of them read for pleasure in 2013, less than the state average.

Many students here don’t read because they simply don’t have the time to. Perhaps they did in elementary school, but between activities like captaining the History Bowl team and volunteering at local hospitals, it’s hard to reserve time for something as seemingly trivial as reading for pleasure.

Other teenagers do have spare time, but they choose to turn instead to the welcoming embrace of social media. In a generation where friends and videos are just a click away, it takes sizeable willpower to resist two Snapchat notifications in favor of reading a book.

Students often forget that books (and not just grammar or SAT vocab books) were the primary way they collected new words and writing skills when they were little — and should be the primary way now. No matter how many vocabulary words or grammar rules a student memorizes, I’ve noticed that the finest writers around me are the ones who still read passionately. The SAT may help carry students to college, but reading and writing are communication skills that accompany people throughout life.

Perhaps even more importantly, reading allows people to understand the world outside of their own bubble — an ability that proves to be especially valuable to those in an affluent area like Saratoga. As maturing young adults with lives that largely revolve around school and activities, it’s all too easy to forget about the other 7 billion people who go about leading their lives in varying conditions. However, because each book has its own rich setting, themes, and characters, reading a variety of books forges a deeper connection and knowledge of the world.

Likewise, reading allows students to empathize with those whose experiences are vastly different from their own. While reading “Charlotte’s Web” in third grade, I sympathized with Wilbur the pig, who loved life but was to be killed because he was the runt of his litter. I mourned the death of selfless and hardworking Charlotte the spider, even though spiders had always terrified me and seemed expendable in real life. This capacity to identify with even fictional characters reflects upon people’s emotional connections with other human beings in real life.

Some teenagers are tempted not to read because school assigns mandatory books. Unfortunately, students are required to read a meager five to 10 books a year. Such a scarce number teaches little and provides few perspectives that hardly capture the full breadth and depth of the world.

Reading for pleasure also encourages students to continue in the long run, as they prefer books of their own choosing and form a habit not imposed upon them by school.

At the end of the day, students have much to gain and little to lose if only they choose to pick up a book on a regular basis. And while I may not carry home stacks of books the way I used to, I am certainly planning to make a long overdue trip to the library.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Saratoga Falcon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *