For as long as I can remember, I have always loved reading. I remember numerous days in which I would finish multiple books within hours as a young child. I actually remember the feeling of being literally on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen in the next chapter of my book. I would read and read without hesitation or feeling burdened. Within the pages of books I found comfort and joy. The books would envelop me with their mystical worlds and imaginary characters. Looking back at this I have come to the conclusion that I loved reading so much because it had no pressures, it had no requirements and truly was something I could do for enjoyment and something that took me to a completely different world than my own.
I also can still remember the exact moment when this love of reading ceased to exist, which was when I started fourth grade. That was the year that a new reading program was implemented in my elementary school. If I recall correctly it was called accelerated reading. What was so disappointing about accelerated reading was that it required students to read a set number of books by a certain date and then we had to take tests on the books, adding pressure to the reading. Along with that it took away the pleasure that reading had once brought me. The act of reading became a task. From that moment on, reading was not what it had once been for me or other students. This same system of reading in order to prepare for a test or assessment continued throughout my educational career. In fifth grade it became only reading passages in order to practice reading comprehension for the End of Grade tests. (E.O.G.s), in middle school it was reading books that followed a specific unit of study that was necessary for all of the middle schoolers to read books to prepare for the assessments that would come at the conclusion of the year. These were books that were not interesting in the least for a sixth grade girl I’d like to add.
Due to the excessive amount of required reading myself and other students were expected to complete, I was unable to find the time to read books that were of interest to me at all. My inability to read without an ominous test weighing on my mind, caused reading to become a burden and something I almost dreaded. I think that this system of assigning reading to students for the sole purpose of preparing for a test is what causes the common reaction of college students in saying, “Oh I hate reading,” or my personal favorite, “I’m not doing that assignment, its just reading.” Reading has become such a burden to students because we have had it pounded into our heads that reading means a test. Reading to the average student has become a task that is seen negatively due to the years of school before college where it was drilled into our heads that we were supposed to read for a test. Sadly this mentality has replaced the view that reading is for pleasure or to further explore a topic of interest to us as students. I feel robbed of the joy I initially found in reading and I believe if this is allowed to continue, we as a nation will completely destroy many of our young people’s love of books.