Don’t cheat yourself: read!



Conor Flynn, Staff Writer

                “Please come up and grab your assigned novel!” the teacher announces. There is a short, heavy gasp followed by a longer, audible groan. Even better, the book assigned is a 400-page whopper, a sizeable volume most students wouldn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole. As the books are handed out, a thought runs through every student’s mind: “Will I read this?” or “How much of this will I read?”

                Completion of assigned reading may be one of the biggest lies a high school student ever tells. Some students only read if there is an assessment over it. “The only way I’ll read is if it’s for a grade,” senior Linh Nguyen says.

                Fortunately, reading in general isn’t dead and gone in high school. Nguyen continues “If I have a good book I’ll read if I have nothing else to do.”Readingfor pleasure is still common among many students, so why can’t assigned reading be the same way?

                Whether or not there will be a test over the material, every student should try to trudge through the assigned novel to the very end. And no, SparkNotes, CliffNotes and GradeSaver do not count as “reading.” Those sites are simply summaries, and none offer the nuances that many great books can. Every single one is assigned for a reason, an opportunity for each student to learn what exactly the author—or teacher—has to offer us. Says AP Literature teacher Dr. Lisa Tilley, “The students are cheating themselves.”

                Take the assigned summer reading book. Most students found out that the discussions in Guided Study over the literature would have no effect on their grade and skipped over it. Is reading during summer so horrible an idea that a half hour could not be set aside for each day for the task? Now, it is true that these books were not the most exciting stories, but reading some of the material to at least participate in any class discussion would be good enough to have a good idea of the message it is trying to send.

                Embarrassing enough, some teachers can tell when students haven’t read the assignment. “If I’m asking a question and they are just staring around the room, I can tell they haven’t read,” Tilley mentioned. “Also, if a comment is unique to SparkNotes for example, it is clear,” she added. Even on tests, it is obvious to teachers whether or not a student has read, and according to Tilley, if an assessment has a discussion question, the grades are either great or awful.

                Some students can get by on tests or discussions by simply skimming through the pages or glancing online, but most of the time it has an effect on their grade. Worse yet, they will miss the beauty of the message or nature of the novel, and miss an interesting or exciting opportunity to grow.