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Are Books Necessary…And Other Tales

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When does the benefit of reading outweigh its negative effects on students?

When does the benefit of reading outweigh its negative effects on students?

Monica Avila

Monica Avila

When does the benefit of reading outweigh its negative effects on students?

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Language is, in of itself, the greatest human invention, always innovating and updating to the changing times. Regardless of these innovations, though, language can be preserved and understood across all of time. This preservation, unlike most inventions, does not take place in a museum; it takes place on crisp white pages.

“Reading older books and classics can be beneficial. I really enjoyed in seventh grade when we read The Outsiders,” says sophomore Jenna Oppatt.

This enthusiasm is rarely the case for the novels chosen to be taught in English classes, which are mostly met with derision which leads to an overall impression of the rest of literature.

“It is good to tie work to the novels the students have to read so they can learn, but the amount and type of work has students associate reading with work, like Pavlov,” says sophomore Liam Baker.

Within the realm of schooling, there is little choice other than to assign work and continue this association. That is truly a shame when literature has so much more to offer a student than just a grade.

“Among other things, a book can enhance your vocabulary and offer a better and more real experience for teenagers than something on a phone,” says sophomore Kenya Adams.

Some would argue that one of the main benefits of having reading assignments of this nature is the fact that the students would probably never read the novels in the first place, and the experience of the words outweighs forcing students to read.     

“In a previous class, one of the books we were going to read was Animal Farm, but I am not into those kinds of books so I would never have read it,” says Oppatt.

This is where the basic problem lies: even if the books are ‘good’ for the students, humans naturally reject anything forced upon them. From this minor bad experience, many students tragically apply their background to the whole universe of literature.

“Because of the way we have to read for school, it creates a love/hate relationship for every book. You may enjoy to read on your own before, but when you are forced to read, however beneficial, you develop hatred after it becomes an obligation,” says Adams.

It is simply impossible to do away with the practice of forced reading and simultaneous work within the school system. However, that statement does not exclude the possibility of alternative possibilities.  

“Many people don’t like annotating because it takes them out of the book and makes them lose the big picture, but some people do still like it. I think there should be optional work, meaning you choose between several assignments, like worksheets,” says Baker.

Another suggestion to ease the burden of the assignments is to integrate some of humanity’s other inventions into the curriculum. The inclusion of technology, such as tablets, to have students use for their reading materials may change some students mind, but its side effect might not be worth the cure.

“When people get caught up in their technology, they are not as open-minded to way things used to be and allow things like actual books to go extinct,” says Adams.

Like any endangered species, books can flourish if given the right care and attention by the masses. If people in general, students in particular, can find a reason to support the cause of saving books, the extinction and ambivalence may both be overturned.

“The simplest way is to make reading more enjoyable, which, of course, is easier said than done. I do think that can be achieved if students are assigned more provocative literature,” says Baker.

A dull device suggests that the simplest answer is always the best, and that means that either the assigning of more suggestive pieces of literature or the selectivity of work would solve this eternal problem of students not wanting to do their work. Those suggestions very well might solve some, or all, of the problems, but they equally might perpetuate students’ apathy of reading. The answer will only be clear if the suggestions are tried, and they can only be tried if the students are willing to do one thing.

“They just need to read what they’re supposed to and stop complaining,” says Oppatt.

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Brashier Middle College Charter High School News....written and created by students, for students
Are Books Necessary…And Other Tales