Tomes v Phones: Students and Reading in a Digital Age


Jenny Crum , Editor

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.””

— Stephen King

In almost any literature class in high school, when a book to be read is assigned, there is usually a frustrated sigh breathed from the mouths of students who fill the room. They gripe about hating reading and hating books and hating the teacher for making them read the book.

It is a basically synonymous view among parents and adults nowadays that the decline in interest in reading is because of the technology that we have today.

They think that technology is too readily available; they think it is too easy to lean on when kids are bored… while in days past, they may have picked up a book instead.

When Ben Williams, a sophomore at CHS, was asked if he liked reading, he declined with a vehemence that is common among his peers. He claims that reading for him “doesn’t fulfill any sort of enjoyment.” He says he hasn’t read a book outside of school for years… literally years.

A freshman at CHS said something slightly different. He says that he actually enjoys reading… at least reading anything that “is not assigned.”

He said that he liked the freedom of deciding what you were going to read next, and up until middle school he says that is how it was. He understands why teachers assign reading to students, because obviously there is certain literature that we all must read to succeed. But when he is assigned something to read, he says that usually he doesn’t enjoy it as much as something he would choose.

To contrast with the opinions of these students, senior Collin Buffaloe thoroughly enjoys reading. He says that he has always read books—he “can’t remember a time that he didn’t.” He loves historical fiction and how a book allows you to get lost in a story. Collin doesn’t think school has really influenced his love for reading… “If anything,” he says, “it strengthened his love for it because the books they read aligned with his favorite genres and topics.”

Psychologists and neuroscientists agree that reading and intelligence levels are proportionate—the more you read books that challenge you, the “smarter” you will be. They claim that reading regularly increases vocabulary and grammar processing as well as a person’s fluid intelligence (a person’s ability to dissect a conversation or a reading and understand hidden meanings or themes). Fluid intelligence is essential for any advanced high school or college class. Psychologists report that reading also increases emotional intelligence (the ability to understand one self’s or someone else’s emotions). It is practically undeniable that reading makes your brain more capable to succeed.

All of these facts put aside, some students still don’t read. This could be because of a challenge such as dyslexia or simply because, as Ben Williams stated, reading doesn’t “fulfill enjoyment” like Netflix or a video game does. But as Julia Bernstein, a sophomore at CHS said, reading “lets the reader visit another world… it allows us to travel without going somewhere. That’s why reading is so wonderful.”