It all began around fifth grade for sophomore Madalyn Sailors when reading history textbooks changed the way she read for the worse. According to Sailors, reading used to be really fun, but now it’s boring and monotonous.
Sailors said, “I don’t like (reading) because a lot of times it’s just for school; I hate reading textbooks especially if there’s nothing interesting about them.”
Sailors’ story is not unusual. Some students said they feel as though school has forced them to read, and while December is Read a New Book Month, many bibliophobes said they do not plan to read at all if they can help it; their reasons are similar.
Even though she said she loves reading, Abigail “Abby” Carmichael, Teen Library Council vice president and junior, said, “Being forced to pick apart every aspect of a really good book kind of ruins the author’s purpose and that makes it a lot less fun to read.”
Still, Carmichael said although she does not enjoy analyzing books for school, “I also recognize the merit that (analysis) has on my personal reading because once you learn how to understand what the author’s trying to tell you, then you can apply it to books outside of school, and it makes them more communicative between author and reader.”
Freshman Brian Yuan said, “I used to like reading, but then we had to read for school and it just ruined the experience.”
Yuan called reading for fun “extra work I don’t want to do.”
Along with using different parts of the brain to process text, “(Reading) gives (children) opportunities to experience other worlds and environments that are outside of their own, and I think it gives them avenues to let their imagination explore and expand the reality,” English teacher Katie Overbeck said.
Overbeck said she based her career choices on reading as well as books she’s read, but she understands when her students don’t enjoy reading as much as she does.
“I can appreciate the concept that some people don’t enjoy as much the escape that literature gives you,” Overbeck said. “Picking up a book to me is relaxing, whereas for other people, picking up a book kind of takes away from what they’d rather be doing.”
Overbeck said, “I can appreciate that not everyone loves reading, but I do think it’s good for our brains.”
Sailors said she still enjoys reading, but not for school, as reading isn’t the easiest way for her to learn new information. She said she likes more student-directed reading.
“I like it when you can pick more what you read and figure out how to apply it because I think that’s how people learn best,” Sailors said, “when you can choose what you’re reading and then apply it to whatever you’re learning, so if curriculum were more like that, I think people might enjoy it and learn more.”
Overbeck said teachers often look for books that engage students at the very beginning.
“The hardest books are the ones that don’t start well or start fast because then I feel like we lose (readers) before the book even begins,” she said. “Our more reluctant readers, if the first chapter doesn’t grab them, they may never finish ever.”
Although Overbeck said it is hard to force a kid to enjoy reading a text, she said, “There are lots of things I assumed I hated, and maybe I legitimately didn’t like them at the time, but as I’ve grown older, I think I’ve learned I have to keep going back to things and seeing if maybe my perspective has changed, so I think keep giving it a try and seeing if maybe because of the way life changes around you, maybe you are interested in reading something now.”
Overbeck said, “Looking for the right type of book that suits your interests does allow you to love reading eventually.”
Carmichael said people who hate reading are “robbing themselves of an opportunity to not only relax into fiction but also become smarter and understand the world in different and new ways.”
Although she said she often hates reading for school, Sailors recognizes the importance of reading.
She said, “Literature and English are really important. So if you have that strength, and that skill and that passion, then keep doing it, and I don’t know, figure out if you’re interested in writing yourself. Like, write in a way that makes people like me actually want to read your books.”