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Letter to the Editor: Are we teaching students to resent reading?

by | Jun 26, 2022 | Letter to Editor

Students are not satisfied with their schoolbooks. Chapters are read in school and assigned as homework. When each book has at least a month spent reading and writing about it, it is a considerable amount of time in a 10-month school year. But what do the students have to say?

In a recent anonymous survey, 20 high schoolers were asked questions about recreational reading and assigned reading in their English classes. Students were able to select answers from four options: yes, usually, sometimes and never. The overarching question asked, “Do you enjoy reading assigned books?” Surprisingly, only one person selected yes, while 35 percent selected usually, half the participants selected sometimes, and 10 percent selected no. Overall, the majority of students leaned towards disliking what was assigned for them to read.

This is not to say they disliked reading in general, as 80 percent answered that they enjoy or usually enjoy reading recreationally. However, this presents an issue when students are given chapters of a book to read at home. Forty percent reported sometimes having enough time to read recreationally, but 35 percent of students said they did not feel they had enough time to read for enjoyment outside of school. This same 35 percent also answered that reading books assigned to them decreases their likelihood to read on their own. On a positive note, 19 of the 20 students said they would find school assignments more enjoyable if they were given several books to choose from, and 18 of 20 said they would find assignments more enjoyable if they were able to choose their book. Eighty percent also reported they would enjoy at least choosing their own genre.

At the end of the survey, students were asked to select genres they were interested in reading for school. Seventy-five percent, an overwhelming majority, were interested in reading fantasy novels, 60 percent were interested in dystopian novels, 55 percent in adventure novels, 50 percent in mystery novels and 45 percent in science fiction. Contemporary, nonfiction and war novels ranked lowest at 35, 25 and 20 percent.

The general consensus appears to be that having books assigned is not considered a necessary evil. Instead, the problem is that books are not one size fits all. When given a say in what they can read, students will likely find assigned reading more interesting and less of a burden.

— Olivia Chen, Hopkinton (HHS sophomore)

Editor’s note: The opinions and comments expressed in letters to the editor are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Independent. Submissions should be no more than 400 words and must include the writer’s name and contact information for verification. Letters should be relevant and not primarily for the purpose of promoting an organization or event. Letters may be edited by the Independent staff for space, errors or clarification, and the Independent offers no guarantee that every letter will be published. For a schedule of deadlines for letters and other submissions for the print edition, click here.


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