Readers say mandatory reading compromises enjoyment

Nicole Stock

Despite school reading assignments, many students take it upon themselves to read for enjoyment outside of class.

In fact 80 percent of Redwood students read books for pleasure in the last year, according to a recent Bark survey. The survey showed a gap between boys’ and girls’ reading habits—90 percent of girls said they read for pleasure, compared to 69 percent of boys.

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Sophomore Sydney Jackson said she enjoys reading for pleasure and often finds the time to do so whenever she can.

“When you read for pleasure, you can pick what you want to read, and you can read it at your own pace,” Jackson said.

Jackson also said she enjoys reading stories about people’s lives that are very different from her own life.

“I read autobiographies. They help open up what other peoples lives are like.”

Jackson said that she finishes books faster when she’s motivated to read them.

“When you really want to read something, you are captivated by it and you’re into it,” she said.

Sophomore Kate Rapoff said she reads a book a week.

“I like to read romance novels,” Rapoff said. “They’re so fake that they make me feel better.”

English teacher Fiona Allan said she believes that students who read by choice benefit tremendously from doing so.

“It helps with understanding the world in which we live, and clearly it expands your vocabulary as well,” Allan said. “It makes you a better writer. The more you read, the better you can write.”

Allan said she tries to provide her students with time to free read during the semester, because she said she thinks students don’t have the time to do so outside of school.

“I think that seems to be a problem with high school students. During the school year there’s just no time because they’ve got so many different things going on.”

However, both Rapoff and Jackson said that reading books for school sometimes compromises their enjoyment.

Jackson admitted that she doesn’t usually read for school, because she said she doesn’t like the way books are analyzed during class.

“Talking about [a book] sometimes gets you off the point of understanding the main concept,” Jackson said.

Jackson said she believes that students often don’t fully grasp the book’s message or plot when deadlines are enforced on assigned reading.

“Sometimes you just turn each page and barely understand what you’re reading, just to get finished,” Jackson said. “The books you read for school aren’t always interesting and they don’t always captivate me.”

Senior Jack Bronson, who also reads for pleasure, said he believes that reading for school is only sometimes beneficial.

“The books that I enjoy reading are typically on subject matter that I’m already interested in.” Bronson said. “[Assigned books] are helpful in some ways because they expand my interests, but seventy percent of books that I get for school I’m not interested in.”

Allan said she believes that her students can benefit from the assigned reading because they can discuss it during class.

“We do so much work with the texts in class that their understanding of certain elements of writing and content might be deeper,” Allan said.

However Allan also sees the value behind her students taking the time to read for pleasure.

“I think that the connection they have with some of the books that they read on their own is maybe on a personal level a little bit deeper.”