Independent Reading: In Lieu of Learning

By Harry Wendelken

The Periscope (Carlisle, Pennsylvania)

Reading books is an inevitable part of any student’s life. From elementary school onwards, we’re bombarded with different titles and authors. For a young child, this is a blessing– it opens up the entire world of literature to us and, by doing it in a class rather then on our lonesome, it gives us the opportunity to have a deeper insight into the works of literature we will read. But we are robbed of this when it comes to independent reading.

Now, make so mistake: I’m not afraid of books. I may have Sparknoted a few books for English class before, but I really do love reading, whether or not it’s for school. But, whenever we’re assigned to do an independent reading project, I can’t help but feel somewhat robbed. Reading is no longer fun; rather, it becomes a chore, something that we have to slog through. It’s true that specific reading assignments also turn reading into a chores, but it also brings several advantages. For one, we are sharing a common experience; all students are on the same page, both figuratively and literally. We can help each other out and further our understanding of what we’re reading.

And the teacher themselves will be able to actually help us make interesting connections, and hold fun discussions, which in my experience are the height of English class. Independent reading, on the other hand, leaves everyone with a poorer understanding of what they’ve read, and the teacher can be largely unhelpful. At the end of the day, it would be better for students if independent reading were not an assignment in and of itself. A book with a prepared curricula and known interpretations will always be more educational then the wild west of those without them.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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 (

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