Love Your Literature

Students should be granted opportunity to choose what books they read in school

Love+Your+Literature

cartoon by Kassidy Wagner

Carley Sherer, staff writer

The all-but-eager reaction students give their teachers after they announce the next book to be read in class is a familiar moment in English courses, but does reading really have to have the negative connotation that surrounds it in schools?

When educators press students to read specific books, it demolishes desire to read, crushes creativity and prevents them from enjoying literature. Assigned reading books leave many students bored and struggling to understand the complex texts.

After finishing a novel that I’ve been assigned to read, I find myself unsatisfied and unwilling to free-read in my spare time.

Many students find themselves using summarizing sites such as SparkNotes in replacement of the book as a result of their lack of interest. This is a sad but real problem in ELA classrooms that stems from preselected novels.  

Literature should be treasured, not dreaded.

While teachers should guide students in the direction of high-quality literature, students themselves need to have control over the books they read in order to keep them motivated and engaged during class.  

Those who are given the opportunity to choose their own books are better readers and are led to scholastic achievement. According to a study by the University of Maryland, giving students a choice from a collection of books improves performance on standardized tests.

Presenting students with options allows them to take risks they would not take otherwise. Teachers can experiment with different methods, such as having students select the book of their choice from a particular genre that isn’t as popular — the students may end up surprised by their interest in that genre.  

Not only will students take more risks, but they will be more engaged in all class lessons. Teachers can use free-reading to gauge what their students are interested in and can mold lesson plans to target those interests. The class won’t dread doing quality work because they will care about what they are learning.

I get it, some classics have to be implemented into the school curriculum.  

But instead of having one book students have to read, form a list they can choose from so they can feel empowered by having a say in the subject they’re immersing themselves in.  

Words are powerful — let’s make sure students actually read them.