Reading for Fun vs. Reading for School

school

Reading for school

fun

Reading for fun

I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird and it got me thinking of my old high school days (all of three years ago).

I was remembering reading To Kill a Mockingbird my sophomore year as a class. I remember laughing at the obvious funny parts in the story but I didn’t really read the book. I read it just enough to write a paper but I didn’t really get into the novel.

I found that this time round with To Kill a Mockingbird, I actually read it… and thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me sad that I could have read this five years ago and felt the way I do now.

Then I got to thinking, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened.

I ‘read’ Pride and Prejudice my senior year– I didn’t get past the first page. I just wasn’t interested in even giving the novel a chance. However last summer my mom bought this gigantic book that contained all of Jane Austen’s works. It was so pretty that I found myself wanting to read it. I picked it up and have been in love with Pride and Prejudice ever since.

Let’s get something clear. It’s not like I didn’t love to read when I was in high school. Oh no, I was constantly reading in those days (especially Harry Potter). But give me a book that a teacher says I MUST read and suddenly my interest in reading disappears.

I have a couple of theories on this. My thoughts are maybe we automatically associate school with boring, so our mind tells us that the book is uninteresting even when it is, but I’m not sure about this one.

I think this one is more likely, when we are given a book by a teacher, we know we are going to have to pick it dry. We are not reading it for entertainment’s sake but to delve some hidden meaning of why the author made the curtains blue.

If they gave us a novel and said, “I just want you to enjoy it” then maybe we would actually read the novel. When I read for enjoyment, my curiosity starts to peak and I automatically start picking at the novel without even realizing it. If teachers went along with this I guarantee many more students would actually read the book.

What about you guys? Did you struggle with this in school? Do you have any theories as to why it happens? Let me know by commenting below and happy reading!

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19 thoughts on “Reading for Fun vs. Reading for School

  1. I definitely think it has something to do with the free will involved. People, especially when children, do not like doing what they are told to do. We like choices. For the classes I had that gave me a few choices of what to read, I actually enjoyed the books more than I did the books that the teacher picked out for us.

    I also believe it may have something to do with maturity level and interests at a younger age. Some of the books we read, although very important, were not of much interest to us simply because we would rather read about dragons and wizards than Orwell, for example.

    • I completely agree with you on the free will thing, it makes all the difference! I wish I had been lucky enough to have choices in my classes.

      Very true on maturity level. Magical worlds were a lot more appealing than Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Thanks for reading!

  2. Reblogged this on The Motley Experience and commented:
    I definitely think reading for fun vs reading for school has something to do with the free will involved. People, especially when children, do not like doing what they are told to do. We like choices. For the classes I had that gave me a few choices of what to read, I actually enjoyed the books more than I did the books that the teacher picked out for us.

    I also believe it may have something to do with maturity level and interests at a younger age. Some of the books we read, although very important, were not of much interest to us simply because we would rather read about dragons and wizards than Orwell, for example.

  3. I think that free will is definitely a component, but I also think that sometimes we are not at a point in our lives where we can fully appreciate or relate to a certain book just as sometimes we outgrow books or they no longer seem relevant to us. The key to engaging students is to make the works relevant to them and their lives. Some books this is easier to do than others.

  4. In my experience, students do respond better when given multiple alternatives, but the degree was not as great as expected. Yes, they start out with more gusto, but many still end up fading out and sparknotesing it. I do think it’s a maturity issue. The fact of the matter is that young people often expect to be entertained, and the “classic lit” in most classrooms – well, the author doesn’t care so much if you’re entertained but moreso that you are moved. Those books take more effort than pop fiction. In the end, I do think it boils down to maturity. For what is the essence of youth but to rebel? I guess it’s healthy.

  5. I think you’re spot on with the theory that “when we are given a book by a teacher, we know we are going to have to pick it dry.” Sometimes I wonder if the author actually intended his books to be interpreted so precisely. I’d enjoy assigned books a lot more if we could read and discuss them instead of picking them apart! Loved this post:)

    • I’m glad someone else thinks so too, and trust me, I’m thinking the same thing when I read a book. I’m like “maybe the author made the curtains blue, JUST TO MAKE THE CURTAINS BLUE!” I’m glad you liked it, thanks for reading!

  6. I think it’s free will, for sure—I certainly know that I’ve never finished a single book I was assigned. But I think that for some of us who would otherwise enjoy the book, it’s at least partially about pacing. When you’re reading for a class, especially if you’re not in a particularly advanced class, you read only a couple/few chapters at a time. For me, if it’s something that I wouldn’t mind actually reading, I want to actually read it. But then I’m always afraid that I’d forget all those details and things we’re going to dissect in class. I had that problem when we read Of Mice and Men, which is probably the closest I’ve ever come to finishing an assigned book… Oh! Wait, there was The Odyssey—I’ve definitely finished that one, a few times (once was even for class!).

    Also, and I don’t mean to sound snobbish here, but when you’re in a class full of people who just don’t get what they’re reading (ie, my ‘9th Grade English’ class), it’s even more painful to listen to conversation when you really know what they’re trying to talk about. With Lord of the Flies, I read the first couple of chapters, thought my ears were going to fall off in class discussion, and decided to just wing it after that.

    • Yes I would come across that problem too. I would be reading and then remember I’m suppose to be looking for literary devices and so would have to go back and search for those. (I finished The Odyssey too, it was great)!

      I also agree with the class discussion aspect, when I read I want to discuss a book but many students just want to goof around which never made any discussions fun.

  7. I struggled with most books we had to read, because I found them really boring, but there were definitely some I liked. So I don’t think it was the fact that I was forced to read them, some of them were just poorly picked :p It seems like my teachers always tried to find the most boring and annoying books they could find..

  8. For me, I hate books I read for school because one of my past teachers made us write down seven important quotes every chapter. That experience permanently etched itself into my mind, ruining the joys of reading when I am doing it for homework. Totally melodramatic, but that’s how it happened 😛

    Also, my first time reading To Kill a Mockingbird was completely different, as a teacher loaned the book to me read for pleasure and not work, in sixth grade. It is still one of my favorite books ^_^

    • SEVEN IMPORTANT QUOTES EVERY CHAPTER??!!! That is seriously the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! You are not melodramatic at all, that would have completely ruined reading for me!

      I’m so glad that you’re first time reading To Kill a Mockingbird was so pleasant. It truly is one the greatest books every published!

      • Yup. And then after writing the quotes down, we had to say why they were important -_- It’s a good thing that this thing known as symbolism exist. All I had to do was write down something and make up something for it to symbolize.

        But even then, I had to stop every ten sentences to write something down, so I wasn’t really getting the whole reading experience…

        To Kill a Mockingbird is a gorgeous book!

  9. Pingback: The Sunday Post(13) | book adoration

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