“I don’t like to read.” “Reading is boring.” “I’d rather be watching T.V.” If these words sound familiar to you, you are not alone. It is no secret that not all young adults like reading. In fact, many grown adults don’t like to read as well. Why is this? Maybe some young adults don’t grow up immersed in a reading culture. Maybe students are not given enough choice in what it is they read. And maybe school-age students are taught inadvertently to dislike reading.
With all the time, tax money, and effort spent helping young adolescents learn how to read it seems silly to imply that the classroom is where they learn their disdain for reading, or is it? If you have ever participated in one of the following reading activities at school you are not alone: answered questions at the end of a chapter, wrote a plot summary after reading, read a text to analyze the author’s intended meaning, or took a test based on a summer reading book. All of these are common occurrences in language arts classrooms around the nation, but are they really benefiting our students? When we ask our students to read a text to glean certain pieces of information that are meant to be regurgitated for a grade, are we fostering a love, excitement, or appreciation for reading? According to Kylene Beers (and myself) that answer is no.
One of the main reasons students don’t read is because they don’t enjoy it.. They are forced to read books they didn’t choose, read genres they don’t like, or read for meaning not pleasure. All of these things teach our young adults that reading is, albeit a necessary skill, one that is just that: necessary skill. Reading is necessary for success in school, in the work field, and in life in general. But what if reading were an option, not something you were forced out of necessity to do, but something you chose to do because you liked it? Are students not taught this about reading? In modern society reading has become a skill to navigate the world, and consequently it has become nothing more than that. This is how most students view reading: as a skill, as a necessity, but not as a source of enjoyment.
So does young adolescents’ lack of interest in reading lie in the fact that they are not educated enough or forced to read enough? On the contrary, many students do not enjoy reading because they are not being shown that is it an enjoyable activity. Even still, if students were allowed to read for enjoyment, one question remains. Would some students still dislike reading? The answer, I believe, is yes. Not all people are the same, and no matter what some students will just not enjoy reading. Some scholars or educators may view this as a flaw or something to be corrected, but I recognize and respect the fact that no single activity on the face of the planet is loved and enjoyed by all. As much as I love reading and hope to be a teacher that encourages and fosters this love, I respect the fact that some students may still choose not to read.
Kylene, B. (2005). Choosing not to read: Understanding why some middle schoolers just say no. Retrieved from http://www.csun.edu/~krowlands/Content/Academic_Resources/Reading/Useful Articles/Beers-Choosing not to Read.pdf