Independent Reading in English Class


Clip art courtesy of Adazing.

Caroline Schaffer, Former Deputy Features Editor

For years of my school experience, English teachers have said to always have an independent reading book on hand for class reading time. They would stress the significance of reading a book of interest, but rarely did teachers actually set aside time regularly for students to read their chosen book. Instead, emphasis would be placed on the required reading for the course that most students dread. 

A majority of kids develop a love for reading in elementary school, which ends up being stripped from them in middle school once the required reading starts picking up. Reading becomes a boring task for most of us when forced to read a book of no interest. 

This year, though, it seems even more importance is being placed upon independent reading, as it has been worked into the English curriculum. Hopefully this is the case and time can be designated for reading routinely so that students have the opportunity to enjoy reading again. Even if reading isn’t much of enjoyment for some, it could at least give them a bit of a break from the typical school work. 

It has always dumbfounded me how we are encouraged to read for pleasure by our teachers, but then given loads of required reading for an English course. I understand the importance of reading certain literature in English class, but when reading is only dedicated to mandatory books, a student’s enjoyment of reading is only going to diminish more. Rather, it would seem more productive to still do the necessary reading for a course, but while also allowing time for independent reading. 

As many people know, required reading that is of no interest to a student is oftentimes skimmed or not read at all. Instead of actually reading a mandated book for English, many students find it easier to use SparkNotes and online summaries. This takes away the whole purpose of the reading in the first place, since material is not even being read and comprehended. So at this point, why is all the stress of reading placed upon books more often than not, not even read?

As mentioned, not all people like to read, which is completely understandable. It’s not for everyone. But independent reading in English class would be a way to hopefully encourage more students to read and improve their reading skills by allowing them to choose what they read. 

In elementary and early middle school, I loved to read. I read everything from Harry Potter to Twilight to the Fault in Our Stars. Then as I got older, I never read for enjoyment as I grew to believe I did not like reading anymore. Recently, I have been able to get back into reading, which makes me remember why I loved reading as a kid.

So far my English class has been allotting 30 minutes once a week to independent reading, since it has been intertwined with the curriculum this year. I am hopeful that this is the year independent reading will be brought back into English class as a regular occurrence, for real this time.