How School Ruins Reading // Why So Many Teens Hate Reading So Much︱Discussion/Rant

Hello, everyone! So, this is something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while now but I didn’t have a platform where I could express my opinion, but now that I have a book blog, I can! I’m a teen (I don’t know if I’d already mentioned that on my blog but if you are friends with me on Goodreads, you probably know because it’s in my bio lol) and I obviously love reading. For that reason, I’ve gotten many comments, such as:

  • How do you read so much?
  • Do you not get bored?
  • All you do is read
  • Reading is so boring, I don’t know how you do it
  • Wow, I could never read like you do
  • etc…

I think you get it. And ever since I became an avid reader 4 years ago, I’ve wondered about something a lot: why do so many teens (and adults) dislike reading so much?

The conclusion I have come to is that the big culprit is the school system. Anyone who’s been a high schooler knows the dreaded moment when your teacher tells you you’re going to start analysing a new work of literature. As someone who is still in high school, I am unfortunately too familiarised with this. Which is ironic, right? Why does someone like me who spends so much of their free time consuming stories through books can dislike reading for school so much?

It all has to do with the fact that school forces you to read books that are not appropriate for most 14-18 years old. They’re novels written decades, if not centuries ago, with overly complex and old language, filled with metaphors and hidden meanings. To add to that, you’re forced to analyse and nitpick every other sentece which makes the reading experience even slower and more lackluster.

The worst part of it all is that even when you do get the chance to pick a book on your own, it usually has to belong to a certain list provided by the teacher or the school system. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Don’t get me wrong, books like Os Lusíadas or Amor de Perdição (acclaimed Portuguese classics) have their literary merit and they deserve to be read and explored, but classics shouldn’t be the only types of books being encouraged to read. Why not recommend teens books that are 1) diverse instead of ones that only feature white, cis, straight characers, 2) not filled with harmful stereotypes, racism and misogyny and 3) timely and that approach important topics from an informed perspective.

✧─── ・ 。゚★: *.✦ .* :★. ───✧

Before I started reading for fun, I never had a hatred for books like many of my friends and classmates, but only when I made an effort and gave myself the freedom to explore all the different genres and stories out there, did I realise that reading was actually a very fun hobby, that made me feel both happy and fulfulled.

School is not only about learning, it’s also about instilling a love for learning in students. You can’t expect teens to like reading if you close them off to the many kinds of stories out there, including the ones that would, in fact, appeal to them. If you do, this mentality will continue to persist in their minds: books that are required reading are boring = all books are boring = I don’t want to read = I hate reading.

✧─── ・ 。゚★: *.✦ .* :★. ───✧

It’s important to note that I’m not saying that reading is for everyone. Because it’s not. Just like sports aren’t for everyone or playing an instrument or any other hobby isn’t for everyone. What I am saying is that I know there are many, many people out there who have the potencial to love reading, but they don’t because school has unintentionally given this activity a negative connotation.

If for some reason you have stumbled upon this post and you are not already a bookworm, I urge you to please give reading a try. Even if you already have, think about it like watching movies, for example. Just because you watched a couple of movies and you didn’t like them, it doesn’t mean that all movies are bad, right? Well, it’s the same thing for books. There are so many different genres and stories in the world and a plethora of bookish content creators from whom you can get wonderful recommendations suited for your tastes (there are even online services, like this one, dedicated to giving you personalised book recommendations!), that it would be a shame if you gave up on reading that easily. Maybe it won’t become your favourite hobby, but at least it might become something that you do once in a while to change things up and take your mind off of social media.

What do you think about this topic? Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments!

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21 thoughts on “How School Ruins Reading // Why So Many Teens Hate Reading So Much︱Discussion/Rant”

  1. Sadly, I can relate a lot to people being surprised that I love reading. I also get the “How do you read so much?” and “It’s so boring, how do you do it?”. And yeah, I agree, whenever we have to read a book for English class, most people don’t like it, including me. And also, the main characters in classics are usually white, cis, straight, and rich. And when they do feature people of color, most times there is a harmful/offensive light surrounding them. Schools keep on teaching that the best books are classics, but they’re really not. There are so many amazing books out there that you can analyze, that also have good representation, but schools don’t really let students read those instead. Amazing post, Susana!!

    “School is not only about learning, it’s also about instilling a love for learning in students. You can’t expect teens to like reading if you close them off to the many kinds of stories out there, including the ones that would, in fact, appeal to them.”

    I love this line so much, again, great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Schools keep on teaching that the best books are classics, but they’re really not.” Exactly!!
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! 💗💗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post! I usually get stares back when I say I love to read, or when I take along a book with me when I’m going somewhere with my friends. I started off my reading with classics because my parents bought them for me, back when I was way too little, but I actually love reading classics (it’s a taste that’s not for everyone, and that’s okay). It always pains me to realise that many of the authors I love were racist and sexist bigots of their time. My school curriculum does not have any English books to read, and the only novel we got for Literature was by RK Narayan. This gave us quite a lot of space to bring books to school and exchange them (hence, my love for YA), and I agree that if kids weren’t forced into reading books they don’t like, a lot more people will enjoy reading books that they do like. Wonderful post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree with you – classics aren’t for everyone, but I’m glad they work for you 😀 It reallly does suck when you find out that a lot (if not most) classic authors were bigots :/
      That’s so cool that your school gave you so much freedom to pick your books!
      Thank you so much for your comment 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel you on so many of these things, Susana!

    I do think you can learn a lot from reading classics, and that it’s probably a good idea to introduce kids to the ones that played a major role in shaping literary traditions and culture today. But when the only types of books students are introduced to are classics with old-fashioned language that even adults have difficulty understanding and that seem completely irrelevant to teenagers’ lives, I can understand why they would never want to pick up a book on their own…

    That’s why, in younger years especially, I think it’s really important to pick out books that kids might also read on their own, and to let classes have a say in what they want to read. And yes, not every book has to be picked apart! Sure, you should learn also learn about literary analysis, but if you analyse every book you read to death, you’re probably not going to read more than two or three in a school year… And I think having a variety of different ones is actually super important – how else is there going to be something for everyone?

    And the thing is – you don’t have to do it this way! For example, I think having a different sudent give a short report on a book of their choice once a week can be a great way to showcase a variety of works that actually interest students. You can have a classroom reading corner that kids can go to when they finish early, rather than giving them extra busy work. Invite authors to discuss their writing process with kids after reading the book together in class and preparing questions… The possibilities are infinite, but unfortunately, we still often see the same one or two books written by dead white dudes being picked apart in the exact same manner over and over again… And so many people never discover what else is out there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly!! Classics are definitely important but they shouldn’t be the sole focus!
      I completely agree! I can’t imagine how tiring it would be if we picked apart every book we read 😩 no wonder teens don’t like reading
      Those are such awesome ideas! How I wish school would implement them, especially the one about having a reading corner! That would encourage reading so much!!
      That’s so true – schools are always talking about the same books over and over again, to the point that none of them have changed from 40 years ago!! Which is crazy because there are soooo many books out there, great for analysing in class and with diverse characters and by diverse authors!
      Thank you for reading and commenting :))

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was lovely Susana!!!
    I agree with you on various points and I do think that people need to change their mentality towards reading.Reading is far more than sitting infront of a book for hours.Schools force us to read classics such as Pride and Prejudice,Great expectations etc. and makes us think that fictious books are a waste of time.Thanks for this post Susana!!🤗❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OH MY GOSH!!! I TOTALLY AGREE!!! I know a whole lot of people who dislike reading and it’s DEFINITELY the school system’s fault. Outdated books first of all have no relevance to today’s life and second of all the writing style is boring and makes people not want to read. I’d also like to mention how exclusive most of the books school systems have us read are. Most of the books we read in the US school systems are written by old, white, non-queer* men (I mean, it’s probably not been proven but nevertheless their books are never queer) and this almost certainly makes reading less enticing because people can never see themselves in books!
    AWESOME post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YESSS TO EVERYTHING YOU SAID!!
      I truly hate that books for school are so non diverse – it’s exactly what you said! It’s frustrating to always read about the same cis het white characters (+ the blatant sexism & racism 🙄)
      Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, exactly!!! Ugh we need to read some better books in school. But the thing is, when anyone reads a GOOD book they dislike that one too because they’re reading it for school. A looong time ago my class actually read the first Percy Jackson book and I know people who hated THAT one because we were reading it in school.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s sooooo true!! I wish I’d added that! That’s happened to me too and I knew in the back of my mind that I would really like the book had I read it for fun and not school.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. i love this post so much! i totally agree that the expose to literature that we get in schools discouraged students from wanting to pick up books on their own. not only are they are old, but the diversity is nonexistent and a lot of the themes and ideas are outwardly problematic. ugh it’s the worst. if people gave other genres and books a chance, then i really think more people would love it! anyway. thank you for writing this post, loved reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. right??? there are so many problematic aspects to these book but they’re never discussed because rEqUiReD rEaDiNg books are always “amazing pieces of literature” 🙄
      Thank you for reading and commenting! :))

      Like

  7. YES YES YES! Someone finally said it ahh, amazing discussion post! I totally agree with everything you touched here and I can’t hold back so I’m just gonna share a bit of my own experience, lol!
    I used to really hate reading. Like, not only because I couldn’t find the books (because school didn’t show those) but also because of the stereotype of readers are nerds, and being a so called nerd is a bad thing. Society really believes that and it really pushed me away from even picking up a book or trying to enjoy it.
    The reason I started reading is actually that I was an absolute movie freak and fell in love with a movie franchise. I soon found out my family owned the books and they pushed me to read it, and I really enjoyed them! The weird thing is that after that series I stopped reading for another two years because I couldn’t find ANY books.
    But yeah, there’s a lot to talk about here and I love that you shared all your experiences and opinions with us! This was amazing to read!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!!
      And thank you for sharing your experience! I loved reading this comment 🥺❤
      I can totally see why the nerd stereotype turned you away from reading, it was something I had to deal with after I started reading avidly and it’s so annoying 😑 One of the reasons I didn’t read was also because I didn’t know where to find books that would interest me, too!
      Oooh, now I’m curious, which movie franchise was it, if you don’t mind answering?

      Like

  8. Ooo this post was very interesting! First, yes totally agree that it can be boring at times. In my opinion, if we’re going to read classics it should be books that shaped genres and should come from a variety of povs. For example, Nella Larsen, or Jules Verne. Also, there are SO many amazing YA books that could be read in class. Actually when I was in high school we read an abundance of teen books in English. One of my faves have come out of required reading! In short, I definitely agree with you. Many teens have this idea that reading is just a bunch of classics or boring books because of school. Lovely post Susana!! ❤

    Like

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