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The Joys of Reading

  • Nov 21, 2011
Rating:
+4
As a trained high school English teacher, it's clear that American high school students don't like to read. In fact, for most American secondary students, reading is a chore to be avoided at all costs. I have gone through great measure to try to get my students to read on their own and to take some sort of enjoyment from reading. However, it has often been to no avail. Most secondary students just don't have any interest in reading and their literacy levels are terrible. In my teaching these older students, I've often felt that I'm fighting a battle in a war that is already lost. How can I get these students to understand and discover the joys of reading and the rewards that come from it when they are constantly bombarded by video games, television, text messages, and the Internet-things in and of themselves that shouldn't be an enemy to reading, but when unharnessed without any guidance upon these older developing minds they become a blockade in opposition to reading for pleasure?

I don't know if there is an answer to that question, but Daniel Pennac tries to explain how this anti-reading mentality came to be in his book BETTER THAN LIFE. The book illustrates how important reading is at all age levels. The book is a kind of a stream-of-conscious love letter to reading, connecting the author's personal experiences with those of others in the world. The book suggests that the younger a person loses an interest in reading, the more difficult it is to re-ignite that desire. Yet, there is hope because people of all ages love to read and to be read to. No concrete solutions to the problems discussed are really presented, though there is the "Reader's Bill of Rights" that provides a starting point for discussion and dialogue. Personally, one of the things I took away from the book was that though the job of an English teacher is incredibly difficult, it isn't futile and hopeless.

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading, anyone who teaches reading or literature, or anyone who has a general interest in literacy.

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November 21, 2011
Lower SAT scores are a testament to the fact that students don't read high quality literature that forces them to consult with a dictionary often. i.e. The Last Man by Mary Shelley. School administrators buy into this notion in order to placate both students and parents. And so, an avalanche of colloquial books are assigned throughout Grammar, High and even in some Colleges.


The idea is to spark an interest in reading and everything else will follow. I believe that complex literature should be assigned and tested. This is the only way to force students to read and develop vocabulary. Students do not learn vocabulary by memorizing vocabulary lists of words to prepare for an SAT exam.


Another interfering factor is the existence of cell phones, cable and video games. Students no longer have to take the effort to read. Instead, they rely on these electronic devices to satisfy their curiosity. Multi-tasking is another complicating factor because students no longer concentrate on one thing long enough to learn it properly. In short, an aspiring scholar in any language or culture must learn to read at least one language well. Those are the facts of life and nothing will change those facts.
 
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Ranked #39
I like to read and watch movies.
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