If there was anything that slightly resembled a magic weapon in life, it would be your ability and (dare I say it?) love of reading. Just think of all the places that reading is necessary – you have to read all those questions on standardized tests, no matter the subject area. I swear the math tests have more reading than the reading tests sometimes. You have to read all those instructions to fill out college applications, and woe is you if you read it incorrectly. You have to read your textbook in classes both now and in the future to even have a chance of keeping up with the material and graduating.
Looking forward, you’ll have to read all those business forms in your future occupation and you’ll have to read government forms and instructions when its time to do your taxes. You’ll get your news by reading the newspaper and you’ll have to read to even know how to apply for a new job (so that you can continue reading all those new business papers.) If you’re like most people our age, you’re groaning with just the thought of how tedious and boring all that reading is going to be.
But don’t worry
If you like reading now and you keep reading for fun, you’ll be able to handle all kinds of things as you age. A college textbook on sociology might sound like a horror story now, but after years of reading Meyer and Rowling books, you’ll be a pro at reading long passages and you’ll even understand what the textbook says because reading is the absolute best way to boost vocabulary across the board.
Read Anything New Lately?
Here’s the deal. If you’re like most kids, you hate to be told to do anything. I know that when a book is assigned to be read, I almost immediately hate it – purely on principle. (And yes, I’ve changed my mind a few times, but only a few.) The fact of the matter is most books that our teachers force us to read are literary classics and things that frankly aren’t all that interesting in our own little universes. Beowolf
? For Whom the Bell Tolls
? Need I mention Jane Eyre?
I’m not saying those books are terrible. They wouldn’t be classics if they were. But they are something you probably wouldn’t pick out in your spare time. But consider how much more interested you’d be in a book if your teacher whipped out the latest novel on gods and goddesses battling each other in modern day New York (The Lightning Thief). Or perhaps a more modern classic that deals with things like rape and family secrets (Contents Under Pressure). It’s likely you’d be much more interested and be more willing to read the book instead of just buying the cliff notes. Your grades might improve, too.
Keep At It
I can’t make your English teacher stop handing out long, rather dull books to read. But I can encourage you to keep finding books you like to read between all those novels. Read things you enjoy so that you can really get into the written word and improve your reading skills. Reading for fun will help you learn new words, figure out what things mean, read between the lines and even learn totally unrelated subjects – I swear I’ve learned a ton of Greek mythology
from one series of books I enjoy.
Your ability to read well grows over time. It is the reading outside of class done for long stretches of time that helps you read better and faster. In short, reading for fun as often as possible – at least a few hours a week, makes you a better reader. So are you reading enough?