What exactly should we read in school? Is there a set of certain books that we should all read? It should be up to the student to decide what to read. People wonder why students don’t read outside of class, but maybe if teachers and administrators stop telling students what to read they will read more. Reading should be enjoyable and engaging. There is nothing like great books that you cant seem to put down. The books that make you happy, sad, laugh, cry, and the ones that make you stop and think, maybe even reread.
When students are given the chance to pick out their own books and read what interests them, they are more motivated than if it was a text they had little to no interest in. There are even studies that can prove it to be true. In 2010 37 percent of students between the ages of 6-17 said they read for fun five days a week but dropped to 31 percent in 2014 (Washington Post). I remember the summer reading assignments in elementary school and you had to choose from a list of books. You had to pick one and hope you liked it.
There is nothing I could do about it but luckily I was able to find one that I did enjoy. Teachers should encourage students to read and recommend authors and books instead of intruding and picking out certain books for them. Structure can help direct students but only to an extent. Books that students like allow them to be more analytical and challenged because they are interested. Books are just like the classes you feel you don’t need or don’t like. What is there to motivate you to do well? You are there because you have to, not because you want to.
It is hard to get something out of a book that you do not like, or just anything in life. When reading is enjoyable it results in students reading more, which makes better readers and writers. Things that are intrinsically motivating are what people care about. Yes, there are plenty of great works of writing but that does not mean all students should read them. I think students should know about different styles of writing and great writers such as Shakespeare but it is a different time. There are tons of great modern authors and books that students can be learning about and reading (The Huffington Post).
Shakespeare should be taught so that students can understand the language and provide students with background to the history of the language. More relatable stories will keep the students from falling asleep in their seats. Some of the scenarios and language in older texts can be hard to grasp and the modern books are better at appealing to the newer generations. The scenarios are almost unrealistic for this day and age but books that deal with suicide, rape, LGBTQ people which all hold a greater presence in young teens lives can be the ones that keep students reading.
The ones that students won’t look up on spark notes and the ones they don’t want to put down. Texts about social, economic and political issues that will help students become more aware are great as well, but for the most part students should have a choice. The more teachers interfere with what students read the less and less they will read. Assigned texts in the classroom can be dreadful and at time most if not all students are engaged in the reading. Academic achievements and even doing well on tests can be tied to students who like to read.
Giving students the freedom to choose books could increase tests scores in multiple schools (TeachHUB). From my experience, many of the students did not even read the books at all and turned to online naries to help them. When it came time to write reflections or quizzes on the books, people were lost. It must be easier to have a class discussion or lesson centralized around a book that all of the students have read, but I miss not being assigned books and having the power to read what I want. Class discussions can work around the different books that students read, allowing for more diverse and hopefully more engaging discussions.
We see the most passion come from what is important to us. We want more creative thinkers but we don’t allow students to be creative. Having the ability to choose what to read would result in students who actually enjoy reading and don’t see it as a chore. These systems that have certain grades reading all of the same texts only takes the joy out of reading and decreases the amount of reading outside of school. Stop making decisions for students and let them choose for themselves. What is the worst that could happen?