A Little Reading Won't Hurt
A Little Reading Won’t Hurt I remember my elementary school days, before everyone got their own laptop, before everyone had their very own cellphone. I remember the warm afternoons after lunch, when our class would read in soft silence. I remember recess, sitting with my friends under the shade, thick books in our hands—I remember when everyone read in their free time. Now that time seems far away.
In the past years, fewer children and teens have been reading in their everyday lives. They’re distracted by other things; busy days, friends, parties, games…Maybe they don’t understand the benefits of simply reading a book. But growing children and teens should try and read more often, because it stimulates the brain and helps form successful lives. It seems to be a fact that kids are simply reading less than they once were. 13 year olds who answered “almost every day” in a US Department of Education study dropped from 35% in 1984 to 30% in 2004. Those who answered “never or hardly ever read” rose from 8% to 13%.
Fewer kids are reading every day, and more are reading nothing at all. It’s too bad, because researchers also find that there is a connection between frequent reading and academic success. In a survey by the US Department of Education, they found that students who answered “almost every day” to how often they read as opposed to “never or hardly ever” performed much better on reading and writing exams. I have experienced this myself—when I was younger, in 4th and 5th grade, I read more chapter books than most of my classmates…I was the bookworm. It seemed to me that I learned new vocabulary almost every day in my chapter books.
As a result, whenever we had “words of the week” and vocabulary tests, I was ahead of my grade. I already knew many of the words; I remembered them from the books I had read. Students should realize that reading—even simply for pleasure—can improve their vocabulary and reading comprehension, which is found in almost all other academic subjects. When you read often, you absorb the information you find in the text. Not only do you start to understand more, but you can do so more quickly. And, when it comes to tests, this can be a huge help.
I loved being able to achieve things with the knowledge I found in books, which were simply entertainment for me at the time. But not only are teens reading less in recent years, they are spending a lot of time on their electronics instead. In 2006 annual averages, found by the US Department of Labor, 15 to 24 year olds watch an hour and 57 minutes of TV on a weekday, compared to seven minutes reading. And that’s just TV; there are also a multitude of various other gadgets and games to keep children occupied, that may make up many more hours. I understand that children and teenagers are inevitably drawn to things like television and internet; ways to easily entertain oneself.
However, it’s still alarming to see such a large gap between TV and reading time; TV is almost 17 times greater. On the other hand, while I almost never watch television, I can easily say that I spend a lot of time on the internet. But, I still find enough time to read on most days. Kids should grasp that there is a world outside of laptops, phones, iPads and such; of books and reading. Diving into a good book can be equally entertaining as playing a video game—but you can learn something from the pages of a book. Perhaps the compromise of a nook or kindle is enough to make kids realize that reading is something that can easily be a part of everyday life.
Some may argue that a kid could learn a lot from the internet or TV, and that they do not necessarily need to read often. However, it really depends on how the child is spending their TV or internet time; they could be playing games, viewing silly videos, or watching SpongeBob—none of which are really educational in a useful way. There are shows and sites out there meant for learning, but chances are that kids won’t go to them in their free time. When simply staring at a screen, it doesn’t stimulate your mind in the same way a book will. Not to mention that reading is something fun.
Not a chore or a painful experience. Yes, I like surfing the internet, yes I like to play video games. But, reading is still something I love, and something I do often. There’s just a certain amazing feeling that you get from holding a book in your hand, falling into its words. You get wrapped in it and carried away.
I’m sure that even if it seems hard at first, there is a book for everyone out there. And although it may not seem like it, reading prepares young adults for their future careers. “Reading comprehension”, “English language” and “Writing in English” were considered very important basic skills by the majority of employers, in a survey by research group The Conference Board. The future has always been something uncertain for me, something I want to be prepared for. Reading books can do this for me; I can begin learning necessary abilities by reading often now, in my early years. By doing so I am expanding my choices for the future and the types of jobs I can choose.
In a way, it reassures me that I am doing something useful with my time, something that will come in handy later in my years, when I’m choosing the direction of my future. Reading is so important—it will help you learn, and live life to the fullest. I hope in the approaching years, more people will come to realize this. And although numbers have declined over the years, you can help this slump in young readers—donate to a foundation that raises funds for children’s books and reading resources; Reading is Fundamental (rif.org) or One World Literacy Foundation (oneworldliteracy.
org) are a few among many. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, perhaps you can find an occasional odd hour yourself to pick up a book and read. Works Cited National Endowment for the Arts. “To Read or Not To Read.” (2007).
Web. 21 April 2013.