Reading in school offers source of joy, not for all

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Ever since I was a little kid, I was an avid reader. All I ever wanted to do was read. I loved it. I would come home from school and read until dinner and always read way past my bedtime. Sometimes it would get to the point that my parents would take away my book because I “needed a break.” This love of reading partially came from my parents–they both love reading and taught my siblings and me the same. I absorb myself into the stories. It is still my go-to escape from reality and something I genuinely love.

When I was in elementary school, we were required to read a certain number of books, so everyone had to read. But once it wasn’t required in the sixth grade, I realized that reading wasn’t something kids my age did for fun anymore. I thought maybe it was because they were lazy or caught up in social media or video games, or it was just too hard. Yet, in my sixth-grade experience, my love for reading grew stronger when I realized there were book genres that I enjoyed other than Harry Potter, although I didn’t have as much free time to sit down with a book as I would have liked.

Entering high school, I couldn’t wait to take English 1. I was so excited to read real “literature.” I know that most people my age don’t appreciate books the way I do, but my class’ reaction to learning that we had to read a book was kind of ridiculous.

Some kids were so mad about it. I overheard things like “I can’t believe we have to read a book” or “this is so much work.” Don’t get me wrong, if someone legitimately struggles with reading comprehension or something related to that, that’s completely different and totally understandable, but I’m pretty sure what my classmates were saying wasn’t caused by a comprehension issue.

At first, I was mad about this. My initial thought was “They’re so lazy!” Then I realized it’s almost sad that not everyone can appreciate books the way my family does because it’s such a wonderful thing that I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on.

It’s more than just, “Oh, I’m smarter than you because I like reading”; stories bring people together and have been doing so for years. Reading seems to be the one thing all generations can enjoy, so when my grandparents visit, I have something to talk to them about: the classics that we are reading in school. My younger sister and I bond over the books she’s reading that I read when I was her age; my mom and I have wonderful conversations about the books that we’ve both read, and I’m so thankful for that. The books that I have read give me a different perspective on things I’ve never thought about before.

There are so many ways for our generation to be distracted: Netflix, YouTube, Fortnite, Instagram, etc. I think if everyone took a break from all of these extra forms of entertainment that are irrelevant to what’s really going on in the world, that time could be spent with books that possess the potential for change.