BY EMMA FRANZ
Reading not only allows for an extensive vocabulary but enables students to live vicariously through the characters of a good novel. It transports the reader to another world. Although once upon a time there may have been many students eager to read, the novels read in English class have taken a toll on their enthusiasm. One of the struggles faced by students includes the lack of desire to read the books a part of the English class curriculum.
Even some of the biggest bookworms struggle with the inclination to complete assigned reading. Most students would prefer to read novels of their choosing, rather than books that date back to the early 1900s or even late 1800s.
Those who already loathe reading are not in favor of school novels either. The idea of being forced to read a book doesn’t persuade students to want to read. The novels read in school have literary value, but students are told to focus on the values taught through literature. Meaning that the main focus of each novel is to discover the themes and not necessarily the value of the literary pieces or the themes. This takes away from learning how the novels emotionally impact the students, rather than them being told how to interpret the novel.
‘Curriculum is solely focused on teaching values through literature, rather than the literary value of the content,” author Francine Prose said.
This being said students find it challenging to read the books in English, due to the lack of pure enjoyment gained from reading the novel.
Students and teachers are limited in what they can discuss, what elements can be analyzed and how they should perceive the meaning of the text. Many novels read in literature classes take place in a time period from long ago and while each novel is informative and provides many themes, they don’t allow readers to personally connect. It is hard to piece the story with a real-life situation, without having experienced the situation in the student’s life.
Not only do novels in English class not persuade those eager to read, but they distance the non-book lovers even more. Without being able to view a screen with a visual representation right before them, they have to strongly focus and interpret what is being read. While they may be expected to feel some emotional connection while reading a text, most students are distracted by the large vocabulary found within the novel and struggle to understand the meaning of each word that is being read.
It is challenging to understand the themes and main idea of the story without being able to comprehend the story. According to the Atlantic, Common Core Standards push students to become clinical crafters of arguments and masters of academic language. These novels guide students towards understanding the lesson from an academic perspective, rather than understanding their emotional intake on the novel.
Some of the time, the lack of desire to read the novels a part of the English curriculum isn’t caused by the book itself. It is the idea that students are being forced to read a book at school, which is followed by their thought that the book can’t possibly be interesting. This demonstrates a significant contrast between reading for leisure and being forced to read.
One way this dilemma can be improved is by allowing students to choose the novel the class will read. Each class can have the option to choose from three books of different genres and the class can vote for the one that stands out most to them. Each book can contain themes and literary devices, while still grasping the attention of the students. This will create a win-win situation.
Overall, the importance of reading novels in English class is vital to the curriculum. However, the books read in the classroom should be taught to students in a manner that is comprehensive and the books presented should be picked by the students, rather than for the students.
Photo by The Lariat Photography