by May Chan, Cupertino
Question: Should students be given a 20-minute period each day in school, for the purpose of reading any non-school book they choose? If so, where would the extra time come from? If not, why not?
From novels to comics, reading offers a varied assortment of entertainment options for people to immerse themselves in–an alternative reality of captivating stories. Reading, a disputed activity, has sparked debates between people, some arguing for the art behind books and literature, while others aren’t able to appreciate or enjoy books. Some may not understand the entertainment behind reading because schools force them to read only “educational” books, not enjoyable ones. Due to the benefits of reading, schools should desire to help students who struggle to concentrate on reading and who lack interest in reading. The most efficient solution for teachers is to set aside twenty minutes per day for students to indulge in reading stories of their own choice. This period will help students excel academically, provide a calming break, and promote interest in reading.
A twenty-minute free reading period would allow students to develop standard literacy skills, which have become exceedingly important in modern society. As young students grow older, they become busy and addicted to their phones. They forget about the passion for reading that they obtained as children, preventing them from gaining proficient reading skills. Reading skills are incredibly essential in our society since reading helps students in writing and in learning subjects like history, as historians not only read but also analyze difficult historical texts. It has become immensely significant that students are tested on their reading skills through standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, and AP. If schools provide time for students to read, this time could help support students to excel in future tests and jobs. Through reading more books, students can gain the skills needed to comprehend complex and beautifully written works of art they will find in English classes, as well as gain knowledge from reading textbooks in their other classes.
Another reason for school to provide a twenty-minute free reading period is to allow students a break from any stress and anxiety. With continuous stress and anxiety, students never have a break as they stay focused on their homework, tests, and extracurriculars. Teachers should provide their students with a short period for individuals to relax and focus on books that they can enjoy. Although some students might find that reading adds to all this stress, this reading period could allow most students to read and relax with books that interest them rather than mandatory books. Also, this break would allow students to distract themselves from the constant stress whether it would be from academics or social pressures. An editorial in the Harvard University newspaper has even advised that “if students are not given the time to relax, catch their breath between assignments, and prepare thoroughly for exams, they will likely not be able to produce their best work. Even if they do, it may come at the expense of their mental well being and with undue stress.” Stress plays a major role in the decline of mental health by hindering students’ clear thoughts or concentration. If students don’t have even a short source of distraction from all the stress, students may be unable to complete important tasks such as learning and performing their best on their grades. Even though school can become exceedingly draining, reading will always allow distraction or escape from the difficult reality to maintain a healthy mind.
Many argue that reading an extra twenty minutes is useless due to the students’ lack of interest. They feel that no amount of reading will inspire students to enjoy reading. However, these critics don’t appreciate the difference between forced reading and free reading to promote interest in books and allow individuals to develop their reading abilities. Throughout their whole life, teachers push or pressure students to read challenging or even boring stories beyond a child’s ability. Therefore, after achieving proficiency in reading, some students are still unable to read books they are truly interested in. With these twenty minutes, students can begin to reclaim past ardor in reading or reminisce on the joy they felt when first learning to read. Students who are struggling with reading and may need additional time to finish chapters in the book can take their time to closely analyze or comprehend the text. Therefore, students would feel more comfortable reading at the rate or difficulty level they choose. This time contributes to students’ growth in reading and encourages enjoyment in reading captivating stories. The way for students to truly enjoy a book is for them to find an alluring story and a time to read at their own speed and level.
Reading offers a significant benefit for all students, not just aspiring writers or historians. Books are versatile objects that can be utilized for education, entertainment, and inspiration. Therefore, students should provide a period of twenty minutes for students to enjoy books, strengthen their reading skills, and simply relax. This opportunity will also allow students to discover or experience different genres and take a rest from technology. As technology becomes more advanced, students become focused on their personal devices, losing the ability to understand the beauty behind literature. To help students cope with stress and other social pressures, a little free time with books will allow students to expand their minds into new profound ideas and engage with new perspectives.