Reading: A Lost Art?

By Preston Fossee

The Tower

Since the Mesopotamians first began making scribes 5000 years ago, civilization has been involved in some form of reading.  Now, high school students are finding that they are busier than ever, but what does this mean for the time they have to read?

A report released by NBC stated that more than 90 percent of high school students are not getting the recommended 8-9 hours of sleep they need.  With students already sacrificing sleep, one would think reading would have suffered the same consequences.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities for students in school to read.  Myself, I usually read a lot, outside of school as well,” Logan Nguyen ’16 said.

At South, however, most have expressed that they believe students continue to read as much as they were in the past.  Despite a busier schedule, students are still finding time to read.  The difference is what they are reading.

“I don’t think it’s changed that much, I think what’s changed the most is that my best readers have more on their plates now than ever before.  They have a more challenging workload and schedule of courses,” English teacher Sandra McCue said, “So they don’t really have as much free time as they used to.  So I think they still read for pleasure, but they tend to pick books that are going to be kind of light and really be a break from what they’ve been doing”

A report released by Renaissance Learning indicated another trend among students – boys are reading less than girls.  After the fourth grade, this trend becomes more prominent, with girls having read on average 761,000 more words than boys have by 12th grade.  Some however, have noticed this trend and are making promising attempts to bring it back to equilibrium.

“There was this fear that boys don’t read enough and so publishers started accepting a lot of manuscripts (for graphic novels),” media specialist, Courtney McGuire, said.

Students are undoubtedly hard workers in high school, but everyone needs a little motivation at some point.  With reading, teachers are the prime candidates to provide this motivation.  Teachers can adjust the homework load to require the students to read a book of their choosing.  In fact, many teachers are already doing this at South.

“We had the AP Lang classes come through and they needed to pick a nonfiction book.  What was amazing and incredible is kids were checking out more than one book,” McGuire said.

South is doing a great job ensuring that students are reading enough, but the importance of reading is should be the reason they are doing this.  It’s a common assumption that reading is important, but students need to recognize the multitude of benefits from reading to fully engage with any text.  Reading is an essential part of every job, said McCue.

Most teachers have not noticed students reading less, and despite very busy schedules, students are coping well, thanks to the excellent job South teachers and staff are doing.  Reading may be changing, but at South, at least, it is anything but a lost art.

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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