Recreational Reading Should Be Promoted


As people get older they are less likely to continue reading for pleasure. The teachers and administration should do more to promote recreational reading among high school students.

It is art class at Ridge Meadows Elementary School. The intercom crackles to life. “It is now time for 10 minutes of Silent Sustained Reading. Stop what you’re doing and take out your books.”

This is the Rockwood Reading Day I remember from my childhood. Each student carried a book with them all day, ready to be picked up at a moment’s notice.

This year Rockwood Reading Day was on Friday, Feb. 8, but many students didn’t know about it because, at least at MHS, it passed uneventfully. No reading time, no talk about reading, no mention of the day at all.

There are reasons why interrupting the day to read is less practical at the high school level. Teachers work to fit the curriculum into the time they have, and losing time throughout the day for reading might not be a welcome distraction, especially considering activities like labs, timed exams or class discussions.

Planning ahead for reading time on this day could help teachers, or the administration and teachers could come up with their own way to celebrate Rockwood Reading Day.

In the grand scheme of things, however, the biggest problem does not lie in the school’s lack of participation in this day but rather in the decreased amount of time students spend reading for pleasure.

On average, 53 percent of 9 year olds read for fun nearly every day.  However, of 17 year olds, only 19 percent read for fun nearly every day, according to a 2012 Common Sense Media study. Meanwhile, the percentage of kids who never or hardly ever read grew from 11 percent among 9 year olds to 27 percent among 17 year olds.

As a 17 year old myself, I can not with complete honesty say that I read for fun nearly every day. Between school, homework, a job and after school activities, it can be hard to make time for it. But reading is too important to cut out of one’s life entirely.

Reading improves everything from language comprehension to compassion, according to Christopher Bergland from Psychology Today.

Literacy is very important in this country, and teachers do an amazing job educating students so they are able to be successful. But as far as recreational reading goes, there isn’t much encouragement.

Language Arts classes often have an independent reading assignment at some point in the year in an effort to encourage students to choose a book they want to read. Additionally, the librarians hold a reading marathon each year, allowing students to choose an event that allows them to read at their pace. This marathon was advertised on the slideshow displayed in the Commons but little else was done to promote it.

MHS is part of Rockwood too. If reading is important enough for Rockwood to dedicate a day for it, it is important enough to promote, and Rockwood Reading Day is a great place to start.