Long Story Short
February 24, 2017
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“Hey did you see that new movie?” and “Did you listen to that new song?” are two familiar inquiries in the hallways here at CHS, but hardly ever do you hear the question “Did you read that new novel?” If you ask most students the name of the last book they read, they’ll bite their lip, look into the distance and offer an “I’m not sure,” or maybe they’ll name the last book they SparkNoted in order to pass their English class. What is causing student’s lack of interest?
With the increasing presence of online study resources including SparkNotes and Shmoop, many students don’t feel the need to actually read novels when they are assigned. Resources like Sparknotes offer detailed summaries, quizzes, and character lists that can be beneficial to students, but they don’t replace the texts themselves.
“SparkNotes also offers analysis of the text; even when I do read the assigned novel, I read SparkNotes, too. It’s nice to verify that you understood what you read,” said junior Hope Cursey.
Many students. including junior Kayla Devaney, enjoy reading outside of class time but choose not to read school assigned stories.
“I enjoy reading for pleasure, but I don’t like being forced to read books. I’ll read on my own, but when teachers assign books I’ll usually just use SparkNotes,” added Devaney.
Another cause preventing students from reading—social media and other technology sources. Twenty-four of the 25 CHS students who were asked “Would you rather watch Snapchat stories or read a good book?” laughed and promptly choose Snapchat over literature.
“I don’t have time, and I never seem to be able to find a book that I really get into. Video games and movie are just so much more stimulating and exciting,” said junior Josh Shive.
According to a study done by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, in the last 20 years, the percent of 13-year-olds who are weekly readers went down from 70% to 53%, and the percent of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers went from 64% to 40%. The study also noted that the percent of 17-year-olds who never or hardly ever read, tripled during this period, from 9% to 27%. Many people even attribute lower SAT reading section scores to student’s lack of time spent reading outside of class-time.
“Students shouldn’t rely on summaries alone, it won’t help them in the long run and it just teaches them bad habits. There are no shortcuts to success, ” said junior English teacher Angela Glenn.
But not all of the student’s here at CHS resort to online summaries. Senior Anna Piermattei made reading more frequently her 2017 New Year’s resolution.
“I used to read frequently…but in high school I had to fill my time with other things. On applications for colleges, they don’t ask you for the last book you read. Schools want to see that you’re involved in activities in your school. To me, reading is an escape from reality, and I’m really trying to find time to read more often this year,” said Piermattei.
Senior Paul Ocone urges students to read more saying, “Really good books are engaging and exciting, the written word can convey emotions and feelings in ways that other outlets are unable to.”
Whether through back-lit screens or paper-back novels, students are exposed to words all day long. Although the majority of high schoolers here at CHS seem to prefer the technological route, there are still some lovers of literature roaming our halls.
Can’t seem to find a novel that draws you in? Check out this list of 100 books (with quick summaries) and see if any of them interest you!