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Does School Ruin Reading?

Without a doubt, the majority of high school students do not enjoy reading. In fact, according to mybookcave.com, 33% of high school students do not read a book after they graduate, and the same is true of 42% of college students. This is because school shove books down students’ throats whether they enjoy it or not. This begs the question on whether school ruins students’ love for reading, to which the answer is a resounding “yes.”

The root of this issue comes from which books students must read. More often than not, students have to read the “classics,” which are in no way targeted towards teenagers. In addition, rather than just reading these books for the sake of becoming immersed in the story behind them, students are forced to complete additional work for these already boring tales. These two ideas combined train students’ brains that reading is a chore and not an enjoyable activity. As said by an anonymous student, “I used to read every day, but once my school started requiring more reading, I lost my love for it.”

Students also can’t freely express their opinions on these books. They may fear a poor grade on their book project or other assignment, or they may be told they simply have a bad taste in books. As another student states, “I can never fully say whether or not I hate a book, and even if I do, I still have to work on it. This makes me want to immediately stop reading the book, but unfortunately I can’t for fear of a bad grade.” Speaking of bad grades, a bad grade on a reading assignment gives students the wrong idea about reading. As Sarah Mecham from mybookcave.com states, “[Students] look at that bad grade and think ‘I got a C in English, so I must not be very good at reading, so I hate reading.’” All of these reasons combined mean that merely the thought of reading could send shivers down the spine of students.

This is a huge flaw in our education system as reading improves vocabulary and overall helps people’s speaking and writing skills. In addition, the fact that students develop such a hatred toward reading means that they will never be able to experience the joy of reading later in life.  If students associate reading with long hours of pouring through dense literature and having to write about it, why would they ever want to read? A possible solution to this issue is one which some English teachers already do: allowing students to choose books for book projects. Although the list of books that students must choose from is often a list of the much hated “classics,” at least students can choose a book that appeals to them at least a little bit.