Do Latin Students Read Outside of What’s Required?

Blaike Young Staff Writer

With the internet being such a prominent part in our lives these days, and one of the sole reason’s for Border’s closing (nobody buys CDs anymore, thanks iTunes) you wonder when the day will come books will be extinct. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m pretty sad for the day I can no longer smell the slightly yellowed pages and turn the page myself, not pressing a cold, smooth button on a Kindle or Nook that will take away the slight exercise my fingers receive from the slight action. But not only do our fingers help us burn some calories, that we desperately need to lose because sitting on our bed with our laptops on our lap does not qualify as being active (who am I kidding? I’m not burning any calories flipping a page) but our minds get the exercise as well. Now I know that students aren’t particularly fond of the 3 gym credits required for high school (read Nick Lehmann’s piece on his gym experience), but I’d like to think students voluntarily exercise their mind with a good book they cannot put down. So that beckons the question: do students read outside of Latin? The answer is yes. Sophomore Casey Boykins said that, “reading is one of my favorite hobbies and it has been since I was really little. I try to read at least a book a week.” When students were asked though if they had time to do the amount of reading they would like outside of school, the consensus was no. Why is that? Casey further stated, “the amount of homework I get at Latin totally prevents me from doing my own outside reading.” Another reason, as senior Robert Chen expressed is, “sometimes you are forced to read articles or books for class that just make you [not] want to read anymore.” As Latin students I think we can all relate. The amount of homework we are assigned to read each night, and not even just for an English class, can be brutal. By the time you’re done, your brain is dead. Students often don’t take as much enjoyment in an assigned reading from school as they do from a personal choice. At first the reason for this seems obvious. That is because the reading was chosen by a group of teachers and not to the personal specifications of an individual teenager who knows their reading likes pretty well. But isn’t it also because students are forced to dissect and butcher a book so much that it it’s no longer enjoyable? Don’t teachers sometimes find more symbolism in a book than even the author intended? Robert elaborated, “because you will have to focus on looking for themes or motifs and living in fear of whether or not the line you are reading is significantly important…you are not reading but instead [searching] for things on a checklist. This is enough to ruin even the best novels.” I’m with you there Robert, and I feel a lot of Latin students are too. What’s great about books is when you can really get into them, feel cozy in the language, but if you have to stop after every sentence to analyze something to the point where they are just black words on a page with a number at the bottom, it’s certainly not going to feel like a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on a rainy day. You know you don’t like a book when you keep looking at the page number and feel like you have to count how many pages are left till you can stop so you don’t fail the reading quiz the next day. How many students end up doing that on their assigned reading? I’d guess a whole lot. How many students end up doing that on their personal choices? I would guess a very small margin. So what’s the takeaway? Latin students love to read outside of school, but with very little time because of the surgery they have to perform on a book they didn’t choose, they have very little time for books they do choose.