Do high schoolers spend less time pleasure reading due to television and programs like Netflix and Disney Plus? (Photo courtesy of Abigail Mabe)
As kids age out of middle school and make their way into high school, do they also age out of pleasure reading?
Sure, reading occurs for mandatory assignments in English classes, but students often find a way to sidestep the actual reading and use websites such as Sparknotes to make the process of reading less painful.
Even if students read the assignments, this is not pleasure reading. Pleasure reading is reading for personal enjoyment, not for external factors such as a good grade.
A common view amongst high school students is the preference to watch a show or play a video game instead of reading. “So I do not read books for pleasure,” said Mac Jacobs, a senior at Leesville High School.
Some students make an actual effort to read on their own, “Yes I do read books for fun, I’m reading a really good one called Mindhunter,” said Claire Theunissen, an avid reader amidst her multiple AP classes.
According to Theunissen, “Reading is super important. It expands your vocabulary.” Although students like Theunissen find time to read, other students who participate in extracurricular activities, find it hard to put aside time for pleasure reading, and it seems the older the teenager is, the less time they have to read.
“I think I read more now than I have [in the past],” said Anderson Fox, a freshman at Leesville High School. Freshmen find a dramatic increase in reading assignments once they enter high school, between their English classes and textbook chapters. This could either encourage the student to find more time on their own to pleasure read for a break or tire them out of reading in general.
“I used to read more as a kid because I had more time to but now I have barely anytime to,” said Jacobs. Jacobs participates in extracurricular activities and finds it hard to fit in reading, especially since he does not particularly enjoy it.
Several students share the same mentality; that they no longer have enough time to read. “I do think I used to read more than I do now. That’s probably because I have like no time,” said Abby Beasley, sophomore. Beasley is part of the school Symphonic Ban and is committed to practicing and competing on the weekdays after school and on weekends. This blocks a lot of Beasley’s free time, and she saves the rest for homework and friends, not leaving any time for pleasure reading.
“I do it more often in the summer because I’m super busy,” said Hannah Woodard, a sophomore who also participates in extracurricular sports and activities during the school year. “I just feel like I’ve gotten way busier.”
As students move away from reading, they often move towards Netflix or the new Disney Plus as forms of daily entertainment. As homework increases, time for pleasure reading decreases as a result.
Although Woodard, Jacobs, and Beasley do not often read for pleasure, all the interviewees responded reading is important. “I do not enjoy reading, but I think it is important to read,” said Jacobs.
But does reading really disappear among the upperclassmen and teenagers? The answer is no. Reading occurs in daily life, whether we realize it or not. Reading text messages, captions, snapchats, road signs and directions, even cereal boxes in the mornings all count as reading.
Although this reading occurs in daily teenage life, it is not the pleasure reading defined by our english teachers; the sustained reading of a novel for a long period of time. Pleasure reading is stimulates the brain and provoke individual and unique thought, but as teenagers become busier with schoolwork and extracurricular activities, there is clearly less time to do so. They may expand their creative thoughts in different ways such as being a part of a club or a team sport, working with others cooperatively.
Although some may prefer participating in sports or clubs over reading for fun, if pleasure reading is important to the lives of students, they will pursue a way to do so on a daily or at least a weekly basis, such as Theunissen has done.
Although the new opportunities in high school allow them to branch out away from it, pleasure reading has not disappeared amongst teenagers and high schoolers. Those who find joy in a book or series will continue to find time to read.