Jessica Kotfila ’14
As the internet and television become the modern world’s main source of entertainment, America’s youth experiences a growing animosity toward reading. Why might this be? It could be because television and the internet provide more content instantly, almost effortlessly, than turning the pages of a book can. Or could it be that American High school students, on average, read at a fifth grade level.
According to a recent study conducted by Renaissance Learning Inc, students from grades 9-12 read as a 5.3. This means most high school students are unable to read books at a higher level than those intended for the fifth grade. In the twenty-first century, when literacy levels are higher than ever before, American students are behind their expected level. So what? Why is this a problem? Well, scientific research concluded that students with higher reading levels do significantly better in school than those who don’t. On average those who have higher reading levels, are those who enjoy reading and do so for pleasure.
Why would you want to learn to enjoy reading? According to a 2013 study conducted by the Institute of Education (IOE), students who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers who do not. Reading during free time and for enjoyment has been proven to increase a student’s reading level, vocabulary, ability to spell, and even (surprisingly) mathematic progress.
Okay so that is all good, but you still hate reading? Well no fear, there are steps you can take to learn to enjoy reading.
Step One: Have an open mind. In your journey to discovering super fun things to read, keep in mind that there are thousands of books to choose from. There is a multitude of authors, a plethora of genres, and plenty of work to explore.
Step Two: Have patience. This process won’t make you love reading over night. It will take time and effort, but just remember that the outcome will be well worth it.
Step Three: Be honest with yourself. If you don’t like what you are reading, don’t tell yourself that you do. It can seem like a good idea, especially if you want to like what you are reading. Be honest if you like what you are reading. Don’t be embarrassed to admit it, especially to yourself! To change your outlook on the literary world you have to be honest with yourself.
Step Four: Ask yourself why you do not like reading. What is it that drives you crazy? Do you not like the content of the books you have read? Do you not like the authors you have read? Is reading hard, or too much of an effort? Does reading give you a headache, or hurt your eyes? Do you find yourself struggling to focus? Are you stubborn? Embarrassed of admitting you like to read? Once you establish your specific problem with reading, you can follow the specific steps to fixing that problem. It would be counterproductive to try and fix a problem that you don’t have.
If you don’t like reading because you don’t like the works you have read… try this:
So you have been reading, but find you can’t get into the book, work on looking at different types of books. Start reading a multitude of different genres and authors. Go to your local library, the awesome part is that every book there is free! This way you won’t waste any money on books you don’t like. Follow the 80 page rule. Read the first 80 pages and if you still do not like it you can discard it. Once you find a work that you enjoy, base your next choice off of that book. Use the internet to find books with similar content, or try different works from the same author.
If you have a hard time focussing on what you are reading… try this:
When you read you have a hard time paying attention to the text, it could be your reading environment that is distracting you. Do you read lying down and find yourself drifting off? Try sitting up in a comfy chair. Do you find yourself getting distracted? Try and find a quiet comfortable space to read. Turn off your phone, free yourself from social media and remove yourself from the television. Try listening to music while you read, some people find this helps them to focus. Don’t listen to music if it does not help you.
If you try all of these things, and nothing works. Think about your persona. Are you generally distracted? Do you have hard time focussed on everything? There might be a larger problem at work here.
If reading gives you a headache or hurts your eyes… try this:
If reading hurts your eyes or head you may need glasses or have a light sensitivity. Try reading books on off-white paper or books with larger fonts. See your eye doctor, find out if you need glasses. You can also find reading glasses without a prescription at book stores, drug stores, and department stores.
If reading is difficult and challenging… try this:
Can you read but the works you are interested in are too difficult and take too much effort to read? Odds are you are reading at a lower level than the works that pertain to your content of choice. How can you improve on this? Read every day. There is no way around it. To avoid overwhelming yourself read in small chunks. Try short stories or reading a chapter at a time everyday. If you are interested in the book it is worth the struggle. If reading is still extremely difficult, you might consider seeing a doctor.
Step 5: Follow the tips above for your own specific problem.
Step 6: Sit back and love to read!
For whatever your problem, whatever reason make reading an aspect of your daily life. You will reap the long-term benefits for a lifetime. Learning to love reading is the gift that keeps giving.