Where did all the readers go?


Shary Ali, Staff Writer

As a high school student, it’s common to hear phrases such as “I haven’t touched a book since sixth grade” and “I only read on social media.” With so many distractions from school, one’s social life and technology, reading is evidently on the decline.

A survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) between 2004 to 2017 noted that the number of Americans who read for pleasure dropped by 30%, leading many to wonder what could have caused this gradual decline in reading.

“I think it’s the increase of choice,” junior Adnan Rahimzai said. “Today we have so many options of entertainment like watching Netflix and playing video games that deter us from reading. Back in the day, shows would air once and for the rest of the day, people could be productive by reading.”

It’s interesting to note that while the average reading time has decreased over the years, the average TV time has increased drastically. In 2017, the American Time Use Survey by the BLS reflected that Americans spent more than two hours and 45 minutes per day watching TV, 10 times the amount they read. 

“Reading takes a lot of brainpower,” sophomore Katie Craddock said. “So when you spend all day in a classroom doing challenging and rigorous work, students come home and want to spend their time mindlessly as a brain break.” 

This exact reason is why the following question has constantly been discussed: should high school teachers find a way to incorporate leisure reading within their classrooms? Many English teachers have been especially conscious of the assignments and readings they assign to their students, hoping that over time they can rejuvenate the students’ appreciation for reading. Some have been doing so by offering a variety of reading choices while others have simply been allocating more time for leisure reading in class.

“In my tenth grade and AP Literature class, I carve out time for us to read,” English teacher Nikki Lehman said. “I know a lot of my tenth graders aren’t going to read at home, so we make use of class time. With my Literature kids, I feel like they’re overextended [at home], so why not use the class time we have to read?”

With entertainment options expanding as a result of constant technological improvement, it can be hard for people to remember why reading was ever so enticing in the first place. However, not all hope is lost, as many still hold on and immerse themselves in the delight of reading. 

“The craftsmanship of words is so beautiful,” Craddock said. “You get to go somewhere else, have an adventure, meet mythical creatures and learn from the mistakes of amazing people. I think it’s amazing what authors can do.”