Thursday, October 15, 2015

Discussion: The Stigma Against School Books

I've come to realize something that looking back on it, seems true for all of my school years since middle school. Whenever I am assigned a novel to read for school, the whole entire class groans with dread. It got me thinking. Since when has reading been such a chore for young adults like myself, and why do we hate school books?

I'll be one to admit: my expectations for my reading experience and pleasure of a book drastically plummet if I am forced to read it for a class. Though I am an avid reader, the act of pushing a book on me really throws me off. Not only does this not make me want to read the book, but another main factor is that most required reading is not what I would normally read.

Most kids my age rarely read for pleasure anymore. But the main question is why. Why does my generation hate reading so much? In elementary school, everyone was reading either the Magic Tree House novels or the Junie B. Jones series. Everyone read the novels for enjoyment, and we didn't have to be forced to read a book every now and again. When does reading become so shunned from our activities? The only major turning point I see is that people are forced to read.

A lot of people have different reading paces. I normally read at least 10 books or more a month, while others can only handle 10 a year. When a person is forced to read a book, the whole entire magic of reading is lost. I can honestly say that if I were to read Pride and Prejudice today, when I am a strong enough reader to completely comprehend it, I would enjoy it much more than my eighth grade self. When instructors made a student read, they're whole entire opinion of reading is lessened.

Another question comes to mind though. Why do we have such a negative stigma towards school novels? So far in my high school career, I have had to read Night by Elie Wiesel, Origins of the Dream by W. Jason Miller, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the Crucible by Arthur Miller. In my last two year in middle school, I read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In my AP English class I take right now, whenever we are assigned a book I see at least a half a dozen kids say that they hate the novel or have horrible things about it.

Unfortunately, teenagers have such a bad experience reading school novels that they don't find the amazing reprieve of reading that I have. Though I completely understand that reading is essential to our curriculum, I feel that giving the students the choice among a group of books to read from would be less detrimental to the reading experience in general.

So far, my favorite required reading has been The Outsiders. If for some reason you never read this for school, I completely recommend it. I read this back in seventh or eighth grade and still think about it today my junior year. The Outsiders is the epitome of a book that sticks with you.

What's your favorite book you have had to read for school? There are a lot more required reading novels for my AP class I'm taking right now, and I'm really enjoying it so far! Next up is the Glass Castle for me. Have you had to read that for class?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my rant! What do you disagree and agree with?

Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!


  1. I totally agree with you - everyone in my English class is always so bummed whenever we're assigned a book. I feel like the whole reason I really hate reading books as a class and talking about the same questions is because the teacher has a set idea of what is the right answer to each of the questions and anything that you say - no matter how deep or how true - isn't the right answer so it doesn't matter. I'm happy to say that the English teacher I have this year is the complete opposite mostly because he had just read the book once before and picked it for the class because he liked it. He doesn't come up with questions to ask the class though. We have genuine discussions which is so nice. Awesome topic!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

  2. You're completely right about the set questions! I feel like the teachers give around the same type of question for each book even though each one of them is unique and different in their own way. My teacher in previous years have always looked for the type A answer, but my teacher this year is way more open! If you give a back up to your answer even if it isn't her opinion, she'll take it into consideration, which I really like. Thanks Laura!