Commentary: Reading is great, it doesn’t deserve hate

Gazette/ staff photo

Gazette/ staff photo Thien Thien Nguyen

Thien Thien Nguyen, staff writer

  “To look at and comprehend the meaning of written or printed matter by mentally interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed.”  – Google dictionary

  You might be a little confused on why there is a random definition here. But it’s not random at all. It’s called reading and most young people despise it.

  We, as a species, can comprehend the concept of literature better than any other species on Earth. And yet, research from the American Psychological Association states, “In recent years, less than 20 percent of U.S. teens report reading a book, magazine or newspaper daily for pleasure, while more than 80 percent say they use social media every day”.

  When I ask a person in my class if he or she has ever read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, three out of four of my classmates reply with “No, reading is boring” or “I don’t read”. Most stated their loss of interest because they don’t like the books assigned to them in class or reading doesn’t appeal to them at all.

   There are many reasons a person may dislike reading but, in general, most people do not understand the difference between reading for academic purposes and reading for pleasure.

  As an avid reader, I enjoy reading as many as two books per week just for entertainment. And the surprising thing is that I never started as a proficient reader. English is my second language. Before discovering that novels existed, I was stuck reading textbooks and dreading it.

 An article on The Washington Post, “A new report shows reading for fun declines between ages 8 and 9. How can we stem the tide?”, finds that society today has more pressure for children to excel at reading literature. Thus, parents are more compelled to buy books for their kids to improve their comprehension and raise their grades.

  However, these actions only damage a child’s outlook on reading. The feeling that they are not in control of their choices creates a barrier for them when they read and results in a loss of interest. They then view reading as a chore, a requirement against their will.

It’s called reading and most young people despise it.

— Thien Thien Nguyen

  Reading is not substandard, it’s quite the opposite. In fact, reading for fun has been proven to help increase vocabulary, strengthen cognitive skills and reduce the risk of several mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and dementia as reported by The Reading Agency.

  The problem preventing me from reading, however, is not because of pressure, but because of social media such as Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. The distraction is so real when I’m concentrated on my phone that I forget I wanted to finish that last chapter of a novel.

 The increased amount of time spent glued to a screen is harmful to you, creating eyestrain and lack of inspiration. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your phone, just learn to put it down once in a while.

  When I read, I can feel the stress of my day falling away. I’m a part of the story, and whatever one character feels I also feel. Why? Because reading has been proven to lower stress and increase empathy which helps to improve overall health.

  There are many benefits of reading and it also offers numerous genres ranging from science fiction to historical fiction to keep you entertained. Even graphic and digital novels count as reading. All you have to do is to turn off your phone, open a book and let your imagination run wild. It could possibly even improve your grades.