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Reading is Lit!

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We have all, at one point, been required to read a book we didn’t like: whether it be Catcher in the Rye, Macbeth, As I Lay Dying, or others. But most of us haven’t even tried to pick up any books that we do like.

According to Pew Research Center, the average number of books one should read per year is twelve books.

After conducting research on 40 students at Canfield High School, all of whom consider themselves readers, the study revealed that they have only read an average of 2.5 books since the beginning of this school year.

That is one third of a book per month! Which is, to English teacher Mr. Ruark, “extremely depressing.”

In addition to enhanced vocabulary and improved concentration, reading has extensive benefits. Reader’s Digest explains that when reading, the brain makes connections, forging new neural pathways between different regions of the brain. Strengthened neural pathways will eventually promote quicker thinking and help prevent the decline of one’s thought processes with age.

On top of that, Professor Matthijs Bal of VU University finds that reading fiction can make a person more empathetic. Finally, reading is used as a form of therapy, making people happy!

So the question becomes: why do students not like to read? English teachers and non-readers at Canfield High School offer their opinions.

English teacher Mr. Jennings believes one of the main reasons why students lack the motivation to read is because of technology in today’s society.

“We have access to so many other forms of media. The temptation to look at one’s device is way more tempting, a lot easier, and more accessible than getting into a 400 page book,” he said.

Ruark agrees. He further believes it is not necessarily the fault of students: “Once you [students] get to eighth grade and up, we [teachers] start to destroy people’s love of reading. We start shoving classics down their throats, not letting them read new and interesting new books. This takes away their ability to find something and get into it.”

Senior Grace Barrett gives some insight as to why she does not partake in reading.

“I don’t read on my own because I have a lot of other things to keep up with, especially extracurriculars,” she said.

While most students don’t spend any time reading, a few students at Canfield go above and beyond. Senior Harmeet Kaur and sophomores Rosellen Hansing and Khushi Patel read many books every year. When asked what compels them to read, each student gave a similar response: reading takes them out of reality and into another world.

Patel said, “It’s an adventure I get to follow with each book.”

Ultimately, the most difficult aspect regarding reading is how to motivate students to read.

English teacher Mr. Courtney said, “If a person doesn’t grow up reading, by the time they’re eight or nine they just aren’t going to.”

Harmeet Kaur had something similar to add: “Reading, at least in my experience, is a household thing. It has to start at home. If you parents don’t lead you in that direction, you’re not going to follow that path.”

Therefore, getting students to read may be difficult considering the lack of encouragement from parents. Yet, with the right book, a student can fall in love with reading.

Courtney said, “A book is just a collection of ideas and there is undoubtedly something out there for any person to connect to. Maybe they were never exposed to certain types of books and they just need that one thing to sink into.”

So, after surveying a number of students, here are their favorites in accordance with each genre:

Fantasy: Harry Potter, Game of Thrones

Realistic Fiction/Young Adult: I’ll Give You the Sun, All the Bright Places

Romance: The Fault in Our Stars, Pride and Prejudice

Science Fiction: The Martian, Divergent

Action/Adventure/Mystery: Gone Girl, The Book Thief

Non-Fiction: Into the Wild, Glass Castle

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