Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Required Reading: Pros and Cons

NOTE: I really like pro and con lists.

The topic for this weeks Pros and Cons is required reading.

As a junior in high school who's been assigned to read books since seventh grade, I've been forced to read my fair share of books. I have a lot to say about the subject.


If I'm being honest, there are some pros to required reading. Like the fact that you may not have read a book without being forced to and then enjoy them. For example, I finished reading The Glass Castle as part of my summer reading and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though I never thought I would. Reading beyond your comfort zone can be very healthy, and while challenging, rewarding. I absolutely enjoy hearing someone say "I probably wouldn't have read this unless you pushed me, but I liked this book." (Which my friend said about one of the books we had to read for LA, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich) And when I read To Kill a Mockingbird back in 7th grade, I enjoyed it.

But, with TKaM, I would've read it anyway because my mom loves that book and she would've made me at one time or another. My English teacher helped a lot with understanding the book; stuff I would not have gotten without him. Like, in my naivete, I thought the "black balcony" was referring to the color of said balcony, not the people who had to sit there. Or when Bob Ewell said "... rutting on my Mayella!" I had no idea what that term meant, and my teacher said it gave a horrible connotation to what "Tom was 'doing' to Mayella", as a part of ethos to get the jury on Bob's side.


As a very stubborn teenager, I don't like to be forced to do anything. I know this. So that's one of the many reasons I don't like required reading. Why should I have to read books I don't want to?

My reaction to most required books.
I know that you're really supposed to delve in when you have to read books for school, and normally I read through a book once to understand the plot then read it again to get a better understanding of everything. Unfortunately, most of the books I read for school are ones that I NEVER WANT TO READ EVER. (Like Great Expectations, The Odyssey, or Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.) So I usually end up "reading", term applied loosely, a book I hate instead of reading books I actually enjoy (like the ones I can post blog posts for). Because if I read a book I want to read instead of a book I have to read then I just completely forget about said book.

Speaking on behalf of a percentage of teenagers, required reading totally turns us off to reading in general. I mean, why can't I just read books I want to instead of the ones a bunch of 40-50 year old people who know nothing about me think I should read. I mean, maybe I DON'T want to read a very depressing play about teenagers deciding they're randomly in love and 6 people end up dying (AKA Romeo & Juliet). HOW ABOUT THEM APPLES?


I think required reading should be a thing, because sometimes it works (like 10% of the time) but if a student reads 1/4 (or some other agreeable fraction) of the story and genuinely doesn't want to read anymore, but for a reason other than laziness, they should be able to have some sort of alternative project for a book they want to read.

For example, my L.A. teacher made us do blog posts about a book every 70 pages and talk about it (which was right up my alley) and then graded us on whether we did it or not. You see, that's a good idea. Then I'm not reading a horribly depressing book about a sexist, misogynistic society invaded by white people (Things Fall Apart) and instead I'm reading YA lit that I truly enjoy.

Because at my school, I get weird looks for reading. (I talk about it here on my blog). And I'd say a majority of people there don't read for leisure. And required reading is certainly not helping. So instead of trying to get kids to read books that teachers and adults think they should read, they should try to GET KIDS TO READ IN GENERAL BECAUSE LESS AND LESS KIDS ARE READING AND IT MAKES ME WEEP FOR HUMANITY.

I told you guys I had a lot to say about this.

What are your opinions? Leave them down in the comments!


Owyn the BBS Page


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