Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Required Reading

As students, we’ve all experienced novels in English class that are required for us to read. Sometimes these books turn out to be good and other times, not so much. Personally, I have disliked most of the books I’ve been required to read for a number of reasons. However, I can see the benefits to required reading as it is done through the school system.

There are certainly some advantages to required reading material in school. One could be that the book causes students to branch out of their comfort zone, as far as books go, and help them pursue a new genre that they, normally, would not have read by themselves. This advantage holds true to me, since I am someone who has no trouble re-reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time. I find it interesting if we read a book in class that I would not have otherwise wanted to read.

Required reading can help to grow vocabulary, reading, and writing proficiency. If a student was to go to a library and pick out any book, they would most likely pick one they like or are comfortable with reading. In school, students do not have the luxury of choosing which books to read, and therefore are subject to harder vocabulary and sentence types in higher level books written by authors with insanely confusing diction. This relates to my English class experiences with A Tale of Two Cities which challenged my reading and writing proficiency greatly. Although these examples may make required reading seem great, students may also find themselves despising any book they are forced to read and make it harder for the student to get involved in the class or homework.

A solution to this problem would be to give students a list of different books they can read, all out of their comfort zone of genre and reading proficiency level, and give them the choice of which book they would like to read. This gives students the idea that they themselves are choosing what they want to read which may result in fewer students being uninterested or unfocused while keeping a challenging level of reading and vocabulary along with it.

-Kyle H.

What are your thoughts on required reading? Let us know in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Required Reading

  1. I’ve heard people brag that they only read books when they’re required for school. I find that really sad. I personally hate the required books. You never get to read what you want, and the annotations really ruin the book. I would’ve loved to read the Hobbit for fun, but once I had to annotate it, I hated it. (No offense to the LOTR fans out there.) Always an interesting topic.

  2. I think it’s a great idea for us to choose from a set list. At my school during the first two years of English, we have Literary Circles where people would get into groups and choose a book to read, but they could be any book and usually weren’t very challenging, haha. Most of the time I don’t like the required books, or I come to dislike them because of all the annotating we have to do, but other times, like A Tale of Two Cities (I had to read it too) I’m glad that we had to because otherwise I wouldn’t have read it.

  3. I don’t believe that required reading is a bad thing, it can expose you to different types of literature. But I do not think that annotating should be necessary. I get so worried about what I’m writing I don’t really absorb the book. I wish required reading was more enjoyable and less just to get the points for your grade.

  4. At my school, there is not a significant amount of required reading, which is great! However, the times when we do have to read something, it’s not that bad. We do have to annotate and I know that’s not fun, but usually I read the story all the way through before I start to annotate. This way, I can get the whole effect of the story before having to break it down into literary devices and whatnot. If it is a good story you will enjoy it much more and afterwards it makes it easier to annotate since you know where the plot is going.

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