Recreational Reading And Its Benefits

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As soon as we were born, most of our parents and family implemented reading into our routines. From fairy tales to educational picture books, we learned various life skills and it improved our cognitive comprehension tremendously. Nevertheless, the desire to read has become less and less enticing as most of us have gotten older. Is this because of the lack of enforcement in high schools or due to the less interesting reading material available to us?

Reading seems to be considered less of a fun, more boring sport nowadays and a time-consuming endeavor. According to Teens Today Spend More Time on Digital Media, Less Time Reading, published on August 20th, 2018, “In recent years, less than 20 percent of U.S. teens report reading a book,magazine or newspaper daily for pleasure…” Compared to the survey in 2014-15 that reported 94% of teens that go online using a mobile device daily (February 2016: Teens’ Social Media Use: How They Connect & What It Means for Health), there is an obvious problem. It is well known that recreational reading is important and beneficial to many aspects of your mental health. For one, it broadens your vocabulary, which is an effective way to sound more professional later in life and to improve your writing skills. Secondly, it has been proven to reduce the, “symptoms of depression and dementia.” according to, Why is Reading for Pleasure Important? (The Reading Association). There are many other benefits of reading, making it indisputable that reading not only helps with academics, but it also helps with social connectivity and mental stability.

At George Washington High School, the popularity trend of recreational reading seems to be steadily falling as well. In an interview with sophomore Kayla Kelley, she said, “…I’ve read for English and other classes, but I haven’t gotten to read a book of my choosing basically all of high school.” Let that sink in…all of high school. For two years, this student has already lost a lot of potential knowledge that can be gained from reading experience. In the case of this student, reading is important to her and she does enjoy it. However, with the overwhelming amount of work that is issued at George, reading time is limited. Perhaps allotted reading time could implemented to allow students to attain the benefits of reading without having to create the time themselves. After all, when we’re left alone, we’ll most likely be drawn to our phones, completely distracting us.

Another second year student, Emily Kahn admitted that she hasn’t really read either in high school, but that the enforcement of reading in school depends on the class. She said that, “…in English we just have to read a book, but you can just do spark notes, so there’s not really like a need to read it.” The question can be posed: is recreational reading more important than the required literature provided in school? Reading in general is an immensely important part of education, but it might not be enough. With all of the benefits that come with voluntary reading, more teenagers and students should have the chance to read, rather than waste brain space on social media and mindless games, like Flappy Bird and Crossy Road.

Before our society becomes an emotionless abyss of robots attached to their electronic devices, let’s take another look at the small steps we can take to avoid this future. It is worth our time to make reading more enjoyable to the next generations. It will inevitably draw our world towards a more creative, inventive, and enlightened society. In the interest of this dream, George Washington High School can set their students up for success by applying recreational reading to the curriculum. Reading is the candle in the dark and as Kate DiCamillo once said, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.”

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