(Random picture of me being adorable)
I know what you’re all thinking, “how could someone possibly hate reading?” But before you judge, know that reading isn’t a piece of cake for everyone and that it can actually be very challenging to read a book for some. I struggle with short books, long books, paperbacks, hardcovers, fantasy, romance. If it’s a book, I have struggled, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t enjoy the books that challenge me. Now you’re probably thinking, “well you said you hated reading,” and I did, until I left high school. I grew to love reading on my own, not through reading The Great Gatsby or whatever else was required on the curriculum and that experience is what changed my reading habits. When I left high school and went on to college, I started reading for myself and the books I loved connected me with reading in a way I never had before.
It all started in the first grade. I was a late bloomer at almost everything when it came to my education. I wasn’t great at math (nothing has changed in that department.) I didn’t know my left from my right (don’t worry, I do now.) My writing and my reading skills were average. And I was suffering from a learning disability, ADHD. I remember it being so hard to concentrate on a book. I would never finish it. All I could look at were the pictures. They were distracting and I didn’t care about the story. Now, children’s books should have pictures. I just personally think they were distracting for someone like me, someone who was focused on everything else aside from the goal, to read the thing. I hated having to read the words and write reports on them because I couldn’t remember all of the details, and though I would enjoy some of the books, the bad grade I would get made me hate them. I felt stupid.
As the years went by, my reading got better, but I still didn’t care. I was assigned more and more book reports. I could choose the book, but I still didn’t want to read them because I knew I would be tested on it and that I would fail because my memory wasn’t great. My learning disability made me feel stupid and it made me hate English. I was a shy girl and hated presenting those damn book reports. Of course, my mother wanted me to do good in school which was already tough due to my ADHD, so I would sit for hours on end trying to write them, trying to sum up what I had read into something meaningful enough to get me a good grade. I wasn’t passionate about what I had read. And it wasn’t because the books were boring. It was the constant testing that made me loathe them. The education system failed me because they didn’t consider me as a reader, they considered me as a student with a grade and nothing more.
I don’t know how the education system is now and DISCLAIMER: I would never blame teachers. Most of them do the best they can with what they are given and I know a lot of teachers are frustrated with some of the things they have to teach us, especially in English classes. English isn’t like math or science, it can’t be taught in those ways because everyone’s writing/reading experience is different. There are so many aspects of reading that can be interpreted in different ways. I don’t think students should be tested on the true meaning of The Great Gatsby (obviously, all I remember from school is The Great Gatsby.) The answer is obvious because it’s what we’ve been taught, but it might have different meanings to different people.
In University, there is a wider range of acceptance for different interpretations in literature because there isn’t so much examination. It’s all about discussion and papers where you can express your thoughts while being considered for your position, instead of being told you are wrong because it differs from your professors. And if you have a professor like that, they aren’t doing it right. All of my professors, so far, have been very considerate of different opinions and mainly consider how well you can defend it.
I think that testing kills the reader inside of us when we are young, and that’s why a lot of children don’t like to read. It could have to do with attention span and wanting to play instead of sitting, looking at words on a page. But the only reason there is a stigma behind it is because children are challenged way too hard in school when it comes to reading. Children should read for fun, not for book reports or grades. As they grow as readers, they will grow as intellectual people with opinions of their own.
I don’t know how the education system is now, but I do think we should be less focused on book reports and grades when it comes to reading and more focused on the reading itself. The overall experience of reading aside from analyzing every single aspect. I’ve learned to read for myself, to not think too much about the details and to just fall into the story. Even with my school work, I try my best to enjoy it without thinking about whatever paper is to come because that is how you truly appreciate the work at the end of it all.