Many teens carry with them affectionate memories of colorful children’s book characters and silly voices during a bedtime story, and for some, these memories have prompted a lifelong habit. Reading definitely is not for everyone, but for plenty of students, this unplugged form of recreation holds a special place in their hearts.
Most teens can trace their relationships with reading back to childhood. Blurry memories of bedtime stories, or even of reading to siblings set them on the path to becoming a reader. Some students can even pinpoint when they first felt pulled to reading.
“I’m in my kindergarten class when everybody was busy playing with blocks or playing tag. I would just bring a book outside during recess,” senior David Jaimes shared.
But plenty of students are much more eager to reminisce about reading when they were a little older than this.
“I remember reading the Ever After High books, you know about the dolls and everything,” freshman Cynthia Valderama shared. “(I) remember reading things like definitely the three little pigs, but in Spanish, of course”
Ever After High, a series by Shannon Hale is, according to Goodreads, a fairytale-inspired middle-grade book series. It is unsurprising that Valderrama read this series at such an age. A different student shared another middle-grade series they remember reading, one by Rick Riordan.
“I actually got into reading around fourth grade,” senior Patrick Deliz said. “My mom had gone to Target and, you know, we were just walking around, I wanted a game but instead, she decided to buy me a book, the book was Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief.”
Relationships With Reading
Many students may enjoy reading but the hobby is admittedly not for everyone.
“I feel like I have a very poor connection with reading,” freshman Josiah Farley shared. “I’ve tried in the past, I have tried reading book after book and it just hasn’t clicked.”
Being able to read is necessary to succeed, even just in high school, but how much you read or what you read is a personal choice for most teens. But, this has not prevented other students from having something to say about students who avoid reading at all costs.
“I’ve seen a lot of people, you know, my age (that) just can’t spell and I feel not reading enough can play a part in that,” Valderrama said. “There are people who just can’t spell because they may have a disability or something, but I still feel like social media and the sort of delivery of content without having to pick up a book definitely plays a part in literacy rates.”
There is definitely a case to be made for reading more. The magic of reading may be something that keeps many readers coming back, but there are many more practical advantages for reading often too.
“If you read and actually get into it, you might find your vocabulary enhanced, and you know, you might find yourself open to new perspectives,” Valderrama also explained. “And for fiction, you get to have like a sort of small visit to the author’s imagination.”
Reading For This Generation
Thankfully, since reading is not for everyone, there are many other ways of consuming stories, all of them very different. Movies and books are an excellent example. Movies utilize props, sets, actors, and visual effects. Reading relies solely on the author’s ability to paint a picture in their reader’s brain, and the reader’s ability to decipher that image.
Movies are also, relative to books, a new invention. Today’s teens have more ways to tell stories, and more ways to hear other stories than ever before. Plus, reading itself has grown and evolved as a way of storytelling. While many stories are still relevant today, what we consider good writing or good storytelling in general, is very dependent on time period, and individual preference too.
“Good writing to me, is when I can identify whether or not someone really meant what they were writing, whether or not a part of their soul into it,” Jaimes shared. “I feel like when you do read, you can see the effort they put into it, whether or not they’re genuine with their words.”
Jaimes’ opinion on good writing, however, is applicable for any time period. Another student talked a little bit about the difference between what was appropriate to write in the past versus today.
“I feel like now, you can write about pretty much whatever you want. You know, you can write about superheroes and aliens and romance and comedy, and it’ll be accepted,” Farley explained. “I feel like back then there was a very small kind of area that you had to fit in to write a book or novel, if you understand what I’m saying.”
Today, as Farley implied, it is much easier for writers to tell stories that succeed in finding their niche. While there may still be a “correct” way to write a book, there are many different types of writing, many different themes, and many different topics that books can cover. Most of all, books today contain more voices than ever before.
However, Jaimes found that today’s books were still not quite for him.
“Books written today. It just reminds me of social media, which is just like ingenuine,” Jaimes said. “There’s like, very few books that I’ve read that I feel were worth picking up in this day and age.”
Since reading is so closely tied to writing, it is a natural assumption that many readers are writers, and while many are, this is not always true. One student who does not even enjoy reading shared his thoughts about writing.
“I think it’s because writing is my own outlet and my own kind of mindset that I’m putting onto a piece of paper while reading is collecting someone else’s mindset,” Farley shared. “Not that I have a problem with that. It’s just a little bit harder for me to catch on to.”
Others started writing as a result of how much they read, in an attempt to recreate the same magic they feel when they read.
“These are such great books and great places that I go in my imagination. Can I do the same?” Deliz said. “I started writing stories and I started you know, doing all these writing exercises.”
Reading may look different for everyone, and take many different forms, but it is definitely something that can be good for teens and for many teens just something enjoyable to pass the time with. With everything going on in the world right now, reading can offer a welcome and healthy escape. Even if that escape does not involve actually going anywhere.