The Value of Reading

Feet shuffle past the library, yet nobody looks past the windows at the dust that falls onto the delicate and worn leather-bound spines. Rarely does one hear the creaking of the large wooden doors. For Everyone is doing the same thing, scroll, tap, ping, and repeat on a screen. It is this screen that distracts from a once essential pursuit: reading.

With the expanding role technology plays in everyday life, the time people spends reading is on the decline. “Kids in 2004 spent about 554 minutes a week reading and 234 minutes in 2014,” said Priceonomics.

The question is raised, what is lost in this transaction?  One of the most compelling reasons to read its ability to foster many positive traits from a vast imagination to heightened intelligence. When you read, your brain is actively paying attention and gaining new information according to  Business Insider.

“Reading keeps the mind engaged,” said English teacher Hector West, “it builds one’s imaginational skills and helps people see different perspectives better. All of this keeps the mind from stopping, and staying in a mental rut.”

Aside from the more intangible quality of improved imagination, the effect of reading on academic performance is directly measurable. According to Portland Education's Blog, “Students who read on their free time do about 30% better in school than those who don’t.”

Sophomore Jamie Drake attributes her academic success to reading. Since middle school.

“I have grown so much is because of reading, because I noticed that I started advancing farther than other students in my class when I read more. Around 7th grade I was bottom in my English class, I blamed it on the teacher until I started reading books that intrigued me. I ended in the top of my class,” said Drake

It seems for some students reading is unappealing after spending so much time on assigned texts for school. Although assigned reading serves as a means to discover new genres. Finding a story interesting enough to enjoy reading is a hassle, and assigned reading makes it harder because many students believe all books to be like the assigned stories.

Although reading seems like a chore to a large sum of people, it can help open the mind to different perspectives and still be interesting. Reading transports readers to a place where they can learn, explore and feel things through a different person’s ‘eye’. In addition, reading often helps with more creative things, like the growth of imagination and the ability to observe and understand people, and even situations.

Like West said, “I enjoy books for many reasons, they help me by giving the information I need when I need it. I feel as if they enrich my soul, and books are a release from everyday life.”

In 2010 California and Florida both passed laws to have textbooks digitized because it is easier for the students and the students claimed they performed better with it. The reality was they did better with the actual print out than they did with it being on a screen. Business Insider conducted a study to prove that point; They say that when students are required to comprehend and analyze they usually do better with printouts.

The world has turned into a place where everything needs to be recorded, and posted for the world to see. Privacy has become less and less our own. Reading can provide a place to get away from the flashes of a camera or the pressures of society.

“When I read I drift away from the pressures of next week’s exam, I float away from me,” said Drake.  “I change into the character I am reading about, meaning I don’t have to deal with my problems, I don’t have to look at how many snaps I’m receiving or not receiving. It really is amazing.”

The way people see reading vs technology has changed throughout the years. People have given books the cold shoulder despite the beneficial effects they have. Reading is good for the mind, healthy for the soul, and interesting. With people seeing reading as banal, libraries are collecting dust and people become ignorant of what literature has to offer.