York’s Learning Commons space filled with amazing books and comfortable chairs set up to be inviting to anyone who visits. (Photo by Milan Bishop-Sasaki)
York’s Learning Commons space filled with amazing books and comfortable chairs set up to be inviting to anyone who visits.

Photo by Milan Bishop-Sasaki

Why and how York encourages students to read

February 4, 2022

With so many other options like video games, on demand movies, and social media, reading is often put on the back burner. Not to mention the lack of time due to school, work, sports, ect. There are so many reasons not to read, it is often easy to forget all the reasons you should read. 

“I think nearly everyone has enjoyed reading at some point in their life, it falls away for some people whether that’s a fault of schooling or busy lives, it happens,” School librarian Erica Drumm said.

Interests and hobbies you once loved falling away is something that happens to almost everyone at one point or another. It is easy to forget about things, and theres nothing shameful in that. 

“People need to be kind to themselves about that, it’s ok to take a break from things,” Drumm said.

It’s ok to get busy, take a break, and even forget about things. You don’t need to beat yourself up about it when you notice. It is good to try to get back into those interests if they’re something that makes you happy. Whatever gets you back into something that makes you happy is a good thing.  

 In middle school, my English class did a 40 book challenge where you tried to read 40 books per semester,” Senior Allison Hiser said. “I only managed to read 20 but still it opened my eyes to how exciting reading can be.”

Now for you it may not be a 40 book challenge, The way you decide to read may not even be in the format of a typical novel, but there’s no shame in starting something new or different.

“You know graphic novels I think are an unbelievable entry point for some people. and for some people it’s their end all be all and that is awesome,” Drumm said.

Graphic novels are just one example of the many forms writing can take.There are no rules  or incorrect ways to read, and there is no shame in choosing an atypical route.  

“I have started really getting into audiobooks, I have a 20 minute commute and I am actually listening to a new book,” Drumm said. “Which I count as reading and most librarians would as well. Audiobooks are great because you can listen to them and still do other things like take your dog on a walk.”

Audiobooks are a great way to read when you feel overwhelmed and like you do not have time to sit down and just read. Many students are unsure if they can make time for something like reading. It is easy to get tunnel vision when you have essay deadlines, and testing dates breathing down your neck. For students who feel they need to focus on their school work there are many ways reading can help you in school. 

“As a teacher librarian reading is just a practice that is just going to help you be a better reader,” Drumm said. “Reading also helps you be a better writer, because you learn to emulate what you see on the page.”

If you are looking to improve your vocabulary, your ability to analyze texts, or to write better papers, reading can be really helpful for that.

“I’ve noticed that while teaching is that students that are readers are strong writers because they know language so well,” English teacher Ceceilia Bylina said.  “I think that reading provides you with written and verbal skills that you don’t have unless youre reading a variety of things. These skills can also help you on things like standardized tests.”

As much as school is incredibly important and may be the focus for many people, It is important to take a break. Reading can be beneficial in so many other ways especially when you need help relaxing. 

“ When I read it takes away all my outside stressors and let’s me relax in the moment,” Senior Allyson Hiser said. “For a senior in high school who has a lot to figure out, it can be hard to just pause and breathe. Reading allows me to do that which in my opinion is extremely important. Sometimes even on my most stressful days I look forward to going home and reading the next chapter in my book, making the day that much better.”

York’s Learning Commons department reorganized their book collection to make it more navigable for students.”Most students choose to read fiction when they are going to be reading independently so we chose to genrefy the fiction collection so that students could sort of gravitate whatever interests them like fantasy or sci fi, or romance,” Librarian Eric Drumm said.
(Photo by Milan Bishop-Sasaki)

Books are also a great conversation starter, and something to discuss with your friends and family. This may sound like a book club, which can be very fun, but are not necessary to enjoy reading with a group of people. Reading can simply be a common interest you share with your friends.

“Both my friends and family enjoy reading,” Senior Audrey Matis said. “Reading is most definitely something we bond about as we all give each other recommendations and have vigorous discussions about all of our theories about where the plot will turn or who the main character will decide to be with.”

Talking about books whether that be through, reading the same book, sharing recommendations, or just reading together. Reading can really help people bond with one another and solidify new relationships with people. 

“My mom also likes to read and enjoys similar books to me,” Hiser said. “Books were definitely a bonding experience for my mom and I because it allowed us to collaborate and share our opinions on what occurred in the stories we read. I got to see my mom’s opinions on certain events which I never would have if it wasn’t for reading.”

Many benefits of reading such as escape can also be said about tv shows and movies. Though there is nothing wrong with choosing to relax and watching a good tv series, there is something special and different about the experience you get when reading a story rather than watching it on a screen. 

“In books you can let your imagination sort of go freely in the way that you kind of created what these characters look like and what these places look like,” Bylina said. “Even though the writer obviously tries to write that for you. My perspective of what characters look like is probably slightly different than another person reading. I think this allows you to immerse yourself in that world more deeply and in some way allows you to be like a director. Watching a movie or like a really good tv show is also a very immersive experience that’s super fun. I just think it’s a different process in your mind when you are reading because it’s almost like I am more active in the creation of the story.”

Reading engages your mind in ways that cannot be emulated in anything else. Reading is a unique experience that lets you experience new worlds and stories. Books provides many unique benefits to their readers, that are difficult to achieve in any other format.

“ Reading is super important because of how it teaches empathy,” Bylina said.” There’s something about a fictional character, where I think you let your guard down so you can understand them or feel what they feel “You get to see different perspectives from different parts of the world, or different races, genders, anything like that andIi think you kind of just immerse yourself in a world that’s different from your own.”

York teachers and staff are aware of these many perks and are always trying to provide resources to help you read in whatever you choose. Reading doesn’t fall exclusively in the English department, though it may be an important part of numerous other subjects. York’s English department is constantly trying to not only incorporate reading into their teaching practice as well as encourage it outside of the classroom. 

“I think a lot of teachers in the English department have tried to bring in independent reading time, but as the semester goes on people get busy and it gets a little bit harder,” Bylina said. “I dont give a ton of reading homework for class because I want to give them time to read something else. I often give them homework to read their independent reading  book. I know some kids don’t do it but at least it carves out some time for them to read a book.”

York is an amazing place to be filled with helpful teachers and incredible resources that students are encouraged to take full advantage of. 

“We always have lots of projects going on but one big thing we work on is encouraging students to ask us for our recommendations,” Drumm said. “There is a form on the books page of the learning commons website where students can write whatever it is that interests them maybe that’s a genre maybe its a movie they maybe it’s things they want to avoid ‘please don’t give me any sad books’ ‘please don’t give me long books’ and then we pick out books for them and deliver them to their classes “

The York Learning Commons is a great way to start your reading journey. Sometimes it is difficult to get into, but once you find your way it can have such a positive influence on your life. 

“Some people think that reading is not for them but they probably just haven’t found their niche,” Drumm said. “There is the right book out there for everyone, it’s just about getting it into their hands.”

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