Reading literature has long been, and still is, considered more than a necessity in English classes. However, recently there is a lack of reading in high school. The question is: why?
Many contribute this absence of reading to be directly linked to the internet. The internet provides a multitude of websites consisting of in depth book summaries, as well as the central themes, motifs, symbols, and ideas of most books, including almost every single classic. So when given a novel that students find “boring” or difficult to follow, the majority turn to online summaries. This is a problem that seems to correlate with whether or not students should have to read classics in the classroom. Some teachers believe that students should, others think it doesn’t matter, but one stance all teachers can side with is that reading, in general, is a necessity.
One of TL’s English teacher, and lover of books, Mrs. O’brien, shares her views on the subject. Mrs. O’brien states that “classics have withstood the test of time” and that overall, “they’re well written.” She states that all classics are important, and that “regardless of when they were written, the themes are still relevant.” However, when asked if students should read books they’re more interested in rather than the classics, she shares “it’s good to read both, students should read books they’re interested in just simply because they’re reading.” Mrs. O’brien also believes that if students begin to read books of their choice “it might make them more open to reading the classics.”
When Mr. Robins, a TL history teacher, who was previously a middle school English teacher, was asked his opinion, he responded saying “I don’t think they’re necessary, however, there is a really great benefit to reading them, and they’re also relevant.” He continues, stating, “I like a blend [of classics and other books], students should read what they’re interested in rather than nothing, in the big picture, reading makes you more intelligent, and if that’s the case, it doesn’t matter what you read.” However, one point Robins does mention is that “the majority of high school students use some kind of an online summary.”
Whether it’s reading the classics, or reading any form of literary work, most teachers can agree: it’s important to read. For example, as both Mrs. O’brien and Mr. Robins would agree, the classics are relevant, but if anything students should be reading as much as possible. A lot of students use online summaries, and possibly the best way to combat this is by allowing students to read what they like, a book that they’re invested in. All students should be reading, even if it’s not a classic, there are still enormous benefits to reading.