The Case for Reading


When was the last time you read a book for your own enjoyment? (Source: Yongyu Qiu (II))

Reading is a classic pastime and a timeless source of knowledge that is highly accessible in the modern age. Due to days filled to the brim with school, work, extracurricular activities and easy access to digital content, however, reading has sadly become an obsolete hobby for many.

Many Boston Latin School students are former avid readers. As elementary school students, many ravenously devoured books — up to several a week, or even daily. Now, however, reading can feel like a tedious chore.

In classes, highly structured reading schedules require students to read a certain number of chapters, pay meticulous attention to seemingly insignificant details and take careful notes, which removes the joy of reading a new book and prevents one from becoming truly invested in the story. Zach Chen (III) says, “I think trying to memorize ‘the color of the main character’s dress’ […] shouldn’t matter. But that’s the questions we get on tests.”

Books read in class, most of which are required by the Boston Public School curriculum, often feel out of touch with the present day. For many students, it is difficult to enjoy reading when one can not relate to or find much relevant meaning in a story. This phenomenon makes it difficult for students to be motivated to read night after night because their experience with reading feels like a forced march through the pages.

Deterred by these classroom experiences, it can be challenging to pick up a book again and read simply for pleasure. BLS Keefe Librarian Ms. Susan Harari explains, “If you stop reading books, it’s harder to transition […] after you haven’t read one for a little while.”

Reading the right book, however, can be an extremely enjoyable and beneficial experience. Reading gives students a chance to escape their busy and unpredictable lives and allows them to understand the world through a different lens.

“I really enjoy long books that are just stories and draw you in and help you understand humanity in a way that you yourself wouldn’t necessarily be able to. One of the most important parts of reading is that it does allow you to connect deeply to the human experience,” explains BLS Keefe Librarian Ms. Deeth Ellis.

Various genres, from science fiction and fantasy to romance novels, young-adult fiction, nonfiction and biographies, give readers a plethora of opportunities to find a book that fits their interests. The Keefe Library at BLS provides easy access for students looking for independent reading books. BLS students can browse the shelves and ask for assistance from the school librarians or even go to their local library branches. The Keefe Library website also provides excellent resources for finding new reading materials, in both online and physical media.

Despite these accessible materials, other activities often take precedence over reading, such as homework or social media. “I think homework, mixed with tests and quizzes and extracurriculars makes it very hard to read when reading feels like a secondary thing. In addition, it’s very hard to start […] reading a book, compared to looking at your phone or watching a YouTube video,” comments Chen.

When breaks and long weekends come around, students should take the additional time to pick up a book. By reclaiming the joy of reading for themselves rather than for a banal school assignment, they are able to reap the multitude of benefits a book can offer.