• Philip Martin

Why High Schoolers Should Read

Updated: Jan 25

As a full time high school teacher I've come to expect the groans when I give a reading assignment and, though it's taken me a bit longer, the naive complaints about the world's greatest pieces of literature (like, "To Kill a Mockingbird is soooo boring!"). Recently I asked why this was the case, just to see if we could critically think to a root cause.

One student was definitive in his response: students hate reading because schools make them read; in other words, it is teenage rebellion to hate what adults force you do to.

Now while there may be a gleam of truth in that, I replied by asking if video games and Netflix would be assigned by teachers more often, then would students rebel against those things? I didn't think so. There's nothing wrong with video games or Netflix. In fact, I like video games and think they are a lot of fun myself (though I rarely play anything). Though, of course, all things in balance.

I think two things are primarily to blame for this phenomenon. First, it is simply easier (more passive) to be entertained elsewhere (aka TV). Reading takes effort (more active) to begin or "enter in" to the world being presented to you, like having to ride a bike up a short hill to get to a friend's house. Second, teenagers are the archetype of caring what other people think, and if people think you like to read, well, you might be seen as weird or, even worse, trying.

However, no matter the psychological roots of teenage refusal to read (and sometimes obstinately so), the benefits of regular reading are impossible to ignore.

According to healthline.com, these include:

- Increased vocabulary

- Increased comprehension

- Stress reduction

- Lessening of symptoms of depression

- Increased brain activity

However, for the purposes of this website, more reading simply means this: A HIGHER ACT READING SCORE! I'm not saying read a novel a day or a week. I'm not saying that you need to be reading "Macbeth" or The Lord of the Rings on your weekends. But, I am saying that you need to be reading something, anything. It can be a magazine that you like, or a book about something you like, or whatever. Find something (in print) to read, and read a little every day or a bit every week. The effect will be a good one!