Is School Assigned Reading Ruining Student’s Love for Literature?


Charlotte Gumpel, Staff Writer

We all know the drill: when an English teacher asks students to take out their books, their request is often met with apathetic groans, rolled eyes and sighs of discontent. In my years of schooling, required reading was hit or miss. I either loved the story or I loathed opening the book. Yet, I seem to be on the minority side – many students I know fell into the trap of Sparknotes and online resources due to their sheer lack of interest. 


Our education system heavily emphasizes the need to read and dissect books written a long time ago with words and concepts that are unnecessarily complex. And once the tedious reading is done, students are asked to write essays, reports and analyses of books that never sparked their interest in the first place. With this emphasis, reading has become a monotonous and frustrating chore. 


High school students are required to read books like “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury and “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, all of which were published decades – and in Shakespeare’s case – over centuries ago! Although these stories laid the groundwork for the stories we consume today and are prime examples of excellent literature, they are outdated and disconnected. Such a disconnect is not enjoyable for the teenage mind. School is about learning, but it’s also about helping kids develop a passion for learning. When schools assign books that are boring and severed from present-day society, that passion is halted.


Furthermore, schools place too much emphasis on annotations and the dissection of books. Teachers want students to analyze each symbol, each character description and each use of figurative language. It enforces the notion that dissecting and picking apart every crevice of a story is more important than actually enjoying the story in its entirety. 


“I would say I have not read an actual book on my own since sixth grade maybe,” Gabriella Virga, a sophomore at the Union County Vocational-Technical School, said. “School made reading into work with essays and logs, so I lost interest in independent reading entirely.”


Due to strict reading requirements, the idea of reading for pleasure has become increasingly foreign. Yes, many English teachers require their students to have an independent reading book, but there are often coexisting assignments and deadlines.  


Reading is a skill that is used daily, so schools are correct to require it. However, the rotation of books that are read needs to be updated and rethought. Yes, I absolutely believe that several classics should be read, but the school system is in dire need of providing literature that is relevant to society today; there should be a combination of classics and newer literature. 

I would say I have not read an actual book on my own since sixth grade maybe. School made reading into work with essays and logs, so I lost interest in independent reading entirely.

— Gabriella Virga

However, as with any situation, there are some students who find that required reading has sparked their interest in reading. Being exposed to certain books outside of their comfort zone has led to some wonderful discoveries, for some. 


“I think school reading fuels my love for reading and writing,” sophomore Morgan Kinard said. “There are required books that I have read that I would have never known about if it weren’t for English class. I think it just depends on the student.”


Kinard makes a good point by saying it depends on the student. Given that it differs from person to person, it is evident that the way to reignite students’ love for reading is to give them a choice. Reading is a skill that should not be taken for granted. No matter the level, genre or age, students should have the resources and opportunities to build up their love for reading on their own terms.