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A Picture Of A Thousand Words

When’s the last time you read a book for fun? Not for a test, or an assignment, but just because you were interested in a topic.Whether you’re a fan of graphic novels or Tolstoy, it can become increasingly difficult to find the time or motivation to read in a high school environment. The prevalence of […]

When’s the last time you read a book for fun? Not for a test, or an assignment, but just because you were interested in a topic.Whether you’re a fan of graphic novels or Tolstoy, it can become increasingly difficult to find the time or motivation to read in a high school environment. The prevalence of outside information and entertainment sources like social media and television has resulted in a drop in the number of teenagers who read books regularly. Only about 20% of teenagers in the United States today say they read regularly, according to the American Psychological Association.

But is that decline a problem?

The general consensus is yes because not reading sounds bad. 

There is a “very, very small percentage of people that are still avid readers.” says Haily Holston (‘20). “We’re ripping apart the book so much [in school], we forget the true meaning of the book while we’re searching for the true meaning of the book.”

That analysis can kill the desire to read within young people. Being forced to read a book, even if it is an amazing work of literature, can ruin the experience. 

But “people should still be reading.” Haily says. Reading is a primary source for language development and general education in young people. The prevalence of social media and other sources of stimulation in today’s world may not make up for what we gain when reading.

“Social media is super biased,” Emily Hancock (‘20) says. The senior adds that in the “Information Age”, news and other knowledge can become less reliable because “you can’t really check facts” whereas nonfiction books often cite sources.

Some people believe the decline in reading is counterbalanced by the increase in the availability of knowledge.

“I think [reading] has gone down…other things have gone up,” Asher Bloom’s (‘20) says. “I definitely think documentaries have gotten more popular,”

Taking a look inside a personal bookshelf, one can see the books we read often reflect who we are. Asher, drummer boy extraordinaire, is currently reading Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks, a book about the effects psychology can have on how the brain interprets music.  

While he enjoys reading, Asher makes an excellcent point that even though there is a variance in how often students read and enjoy paper books, students do read on social media. Students can read an article “broken up into snippets on someone’s Instagram story…not really aware we’re reading, but we are,” Asher says . 

With the increase in social media, information has become more widespread. While there are downsides to this, such as an increase in false information, the upsides are more impactful. Young people are more informed about current issues and are reading everyday, even if they don’t intend to.

“If you’re playing a game, or watching a movie, or watching a TV show, you’re receiving things… but reading, you are actively putting the words in your brain,” Asher says. “It creates a stronger relationship with the creator and the reader than some other forms.” 

People don’t really lose that connection when reading on social media. The physical action may be more passive, but the mental effort required is the same. Books might provide more room to form individual opinions, but no matter where or how often you read, there is a positive impact on your knowledge and life.

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