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Reading: A Thing of the Past

Chanel Brown | Contributing Writer

When I was 8 years old, I discovered my interest in reading through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I loved the way my imagination was able to create a magical world through simple words on a page. I enjoyed the feeling of anticipation as I flipped through the chapters; wondering if Harry and his friends could defeat the powerful Lord Voldemort. I was able to find an escape from the real world through books, and I still love reading to this day. Reading has not only been an escape for me, but it has also assisted in developing my writing and communications skills. It is proven in society that literacy is a fundamental tool to be successful in school and most career fields. So, how could something as important as reading be neglected by so many?

Reading daily can have an imperative impact on your quality of life, both physically and mentally. These benefits can include: improving your communication skills, writing skills and your analytical thinking. It can improve your comprehension, ability to focus, and can be mentally stimulating. Reading has also shown signs of helping with sleep deprivation, preventing memory loss, reducing blood pressure, and even alleviating symptoms of depression. Even with all of these benefits, the majority of Americans do not include reading in their daily routines. According to the Pew Research Center, which conducted a survey earlier this year, approximately 23% of Americans have not read a book in completion after graduating high school. The Pew Research Center states, “...adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the past year (39% vs. 11%).” The percentage of Americans reading books is significantly lower in the past few decades. According to the Washington Post, the number of readers in America was approximately 57% in 1982. What is the reason for this sharp decline? A sophomore in high school believes people are reading less simply because they no longer have an interest in it.

Mckenzie Brown, a 15-year-old student attending Norwich Free Academy, believes that students do not read outside of the classroom because it is not popular amongst this generation. When asked how most kids react when the topic of reading is brought up, Mckenzie said, “They usually make up excuses, saying they don’t have the time to read. I just don’t think it is popular with high schoolers, and they don’t have the motivation to read.” According to the Library Journal article, Reading Through the Ages: Generational Reading Survey, Mckenzie is correct— Gen Z’s are less likely to read for pleasure compared to other generations. The author of this article, Amy Rea, wrote, “Millennials were much more likely to say they read more now than three years ago (48 percent)...In contrast, nearly half of Generation Z respondents said they read less for pleasure now... their time is likely committed to required reading rather than recreational. They were also by far the most likely to agree with the phrases ‘I don’t have time to read for pleasure,’ and ‘I read a lot for work or school, but rarely read for pleasure.’” It is evident that younger generations have less interest in reading; they would rather occupy their time with other forms of entertainment. According to a once avid reader, the internet is to blame for people reading less.

Nancy Hurlock, a woman in her 60s from Norwich, CT, believes that reading has become unpopular due to the internet. Ms. Hurlock said, “...The internet gives information so quickly. Instead of going to the library or buying a book, people get their information from the internet for free. It's faster than reading a book.” She went on to say, “The internet took over in the entertainment aspect too. Personally, I have started reading less in the past few years. I used to live in Voluntown, where I did not have access to wifi or cable. I would read all of the time then. After I moved and had access to the internet, I switched from reading books to watching Youtube videos.” Even someone who enjoys reading admits that they are doing it less because of their access to the internet. But even with this excuse, I believe that there is still hope for people to start the habit of reading daily.

Reading is a skill that can be learned through constant practice. Someone who has a lack of focus or dedication for reading today can soon become an avid reader. Some tips I would give to someone who wants to add reading to their routine are: find a book genre that interests you, start with a small chapter book, and spare 30 minutes out of your day for reading. As you get into the habit, you can explore other genres, read thicker books, and dedicate more time in your day to reading. Once you include reading in your daily routine, you can start improving your health, focus, mental stability, and literary and communication skills. So, pick up a book today, and see how this simple task can change your life for the better!


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