I showed my students this video and asked them to journal their reactions to it. Here are some selections from their journals:
I think every high school student relates to these students in some sort of way. As time goes on, and hew and more entertaining technology is invented, reading becomes more tedious than entertaining. If I am forced to read a book that I can’t relate to or understand, of course I will get bored and most likely give up on it. Now on the other hand, I read books on programming and starting businesses all the time, and really enjoy reading them. Just like these students, I would have to say, if teachers gave students the option to choose what they read, kids would enjoy reading a lot more and become better readers. Because of school, reading has gotten a bad name to kids and even some adults. If it wasn’t for my father introducing me to my first book on programming and first book on how to start a business, I don’t think I’d ever pick up a book in my life.
A great example of finding a niche you enjoy, I think.
I think the reason that teenagers around the world do not read as much as teenagers used to read in the past is because of the new and advanced technology. Teenagers go on Facebook or watch TV on their free time instead of reading and it definitely takes a big amount of time (and doesn’t have time for reading). Personally, I wish I could read more because I love it and I think it helps me to widen my knowledge and think of aspects in life in a different way.
Personal note of pride: that last student came into my English class two years ago in February of her 9th grade year with no English. None.
I agree with the fact that it is more enjoyable to read something you’re interested in or chose yourself. Another point I would add is that reading on your own is nicer because you can read at your own pace and when there is no pressure I tend to read more.
As I slow reader myself (I often really did want to finish books assigned in school and couldn’t), I can relate to this student. What do we do about that problem in light of the limited time we have in school?
I stopped reading in 8th grade, too. Then I picked books I was interested in (10th, 11th grade) and books were an amazing source because if you forget a part you can go back to it which is just the opposite of what you can do when listening to someone talk. I completely agree with the students in the video. I think what stops people to read is that they are filling a cup they do not have. That cup is the interest and without it your energy is used for something you think is pointless. I started out reading Frankenstein [a recent required read in my Brit. Lit. classes] with apathy and then I started thinking, why not enjoy this? So I took the info. and used it to gain knowledge and expand my thinking.
This student’s cup analogy is interesting in light of the image of futility it provides.
The message in this video was that forcing people to read books that they do not like then they will not read them.
- Teens need to read.
- People read more if they like the book.
- People use SparkNotes if they do not want to read or use what their peers say.
- More important to read than read classics.
- People who like the books will read more of them.
- Classics are okay but what you like to read is better to read.
This student really summed up the video’s main points well because I think he agreed with them though he didn’t say so explicitly.
I believe that the video was very true. I never read for fun. I think if the teacher would let the kids read what they would choose to read, more kids would read. I read all 3 summer reading books for the first time ever, the books were all boring but I still read them. I usually read 1 or 1.5 summer reading books just because they are so boring & I have better things to do.
I do pick up on a feeling of accomplishment regarding completing freshmen year summer reading.
The video is very true. I read books quicker when I like it. The Things They Carried [a summer reading selection] took me forever. Even though I was at camp, I could never get into it. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time took me not even one night & Saturday morning to read. Though it was shorter, I enjoyed reading it more and it made me enjoy reading. It doesn’t matter what we read because reading in general stimulates our brain cells and benefits our writing and the way we think. Classics might help teach morals & provide philosophical ways of thinking, but they are overrated.
The first thought that leaps to mind is that if this poor student of mine has been convinced somehow that classics should be read so that we can learn morals and widen our philosophy, it’s really no wonder he doesn’t like them.
I also have some students who were more critical of the video:
I do not trust the credibility of this video for the following reasons:
- The data gathered for this video was taken from only one high school.
- Never showed an interview where a child actually read the assigned books.
- In the video the person who didn’t read the book talks about how they understood what happened by gathering information from what people in said in class discussions. This means that someone in that class read the book and understood it enough to discuss it.
Even though the credibility of this video is in question, I do believe that they are trying to get across a valid point. If someone likes what they are reading then they will most likely read the entire thing. Also if you let them choose what they are going to read they would likely read it.
I love the way that student really thought carefully about the validity of the message, even though he agreed with it.
In my opinion, these students are whiners. I honestly think that classics are important as they reflect the time in which they were made. You don’t want to do math, but you do it anyway. Reading is made out to be such a chore these days. Reading is television for the mind. What is wrong with that? Come on, people. Grow up and just read the darn book! I mean, my God! Complain! Complain! Complain! Now how do I, who is not a genius, manage to read books for skill and books for fun at the same time?
While I admire this student’s sentiments and have shared them from time to time, is it me, or does reading sound like medicine you need to take, so it’s better to just man up and take it?
Our school is examining ways to bring more student choice into the curriculum. We have no plans to eliminate required reading as a class, but more independent reading reflecting student choice and literature circles are options we are exploring. What is your school doing to encourage more reading and foster lifelong reading habits?