Having just finished my first book for my senior English class, it got me thinking about why people have such a hard time reading books they are required to for classes. As an avid reader, I always find it a struggle to get my school reading done, even though I like the act of reading. I think the real issue I have with it is that I feel that it takes my time away from my personal reading. It also creates for less room about what impact the book had.
When I am reading for school, it is usually a book that I don’t get to pick and everyone else in my class is reading as well. It feels like there is less room for discussion because all the students feel like they are supposed to have the same opinions. When reading books for fun, there is more room for people to share their thoughts on the book. Not everyone reads or interprets the same way, however when reading school books, everyone feels like they have to be the same.
With school books, I also feel like I have less time for my personal reading which causes me to feel less inspired to read. I do believe that reading both for school and for fun can be something that is beneficial. Though it might be hard to read when it is not something we can do for fun, there is still a lot that can be learned from the reading we do in school. It might not be the most enjoyable use of our time, but it is something that we can discuss and learn from.
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.
What are your thoughts on required reading? Let us know in the comments below!