Editorial: High Schools Must Promote Reading More

Angelina Memmi, Head News Editor

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Look back to elementary school. There was reading time in many classrooms, trips to the library, and the Scholastic Book Fair. Reading was not only encouraged as an important learning tool, but as a fun pastime. However, as students venture into secondary school, reading seems to be forgotten. Leisure reading is rarely discussed or encouraged.

High schools must promote independent, leisure reading more, as it greatly enhances students’ overall school performance and well-being. 

It is widely known that reading is crucial in learning. According to the Young Readers Foundation, reading expands knowledge and vocabulary, and this exposure improves writing skills. Reading also strengthens memory and focus, since most books include multiple characters and storylines to remember.

According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s, the mental stimulation that reading requires has been linked to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Reading does not just aid in learning. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex has shown that reading for six minutes decreases stress by 60%, which is 68% better than listening to music, 100% better than drinking tea, and 300% better than taking walks.

According to Sleep Advisor News, A book before bed improves one’s sleep, a reason why bedtime stories are a childhood tradition. As kids grow up in a world that’s becoming fast-paced, reading is an effective relaxation tool.

High school is an incredibly stressful time in every student’s life. The day forces students to rush from class to class, with new information being presented nonstop and frequent tests to judge how much information was retained. The night brings a frenzy to complete homework and other activities before the lights are turned off. The high school life weighs heavily on many teens.

A study conducted by the Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading reveals that just 20 minutes of independent reading each day would be the fuel to reignite every student’s fire, yet high schools are not pushing this efficient way to relieve stress and improve their brains.   

High schools must take a lesson from elementary schools. Weaving in events with the local library, posters of book recommendations, book club and fair activities would have a great effect on students’ mental health and school performance.   

Reading should not be a chore, nor should it always be dreadful assignment that will later translate into a test or project. Often, schools require students to read each day and to then record how many pages they have read. Multiple articles, including The Atlantic, have reported that this required reading lessens the student’s desire to read.

Imagine if more students could escape their busy lives for 20 minutes each day and travel to a whole other world. Reading makes this possible, and high schools should steer their students toward this stress relieving, knowledge-boosting activity. 

Contact your school’s board to bring awareness towards high schools’ needing to promote reading more.