Pleasure reading complexity pales in comparison to current standards

Reading habits in high school differ for every individual. However, a recent study suggests that students are reading books far below the appropriate level.

The data in a study done by Renaissance Learning Inc. shows that only 34 percent of student’s reading levels are proficient and the average reading level is fifth grade.

“A fifth-grade reading level is obviously not high enough for college-level reading. Nor is it high enough for high school-level reading, either, or for informed citizenship,” Sandra Stotsky said, professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas.

 

Popular dystopian novel The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins sits at the top of the list of 20 most popular books amongst high schoolers. Dystopian novels such as the Hunger Games Series and the Divergent series have become increasingly popular with students.

“Along with Manga, dystopian books are also popular,” Mindi Ashworth said. “They’re intended for young adults.” 

Oakwood librarian Mindi Ashworth says that the most popular genre amongst students in Manga. Manga is the literary version of Anime.

“I think that students like it because it links visuals with reading,” Ashworth said. “Graphic novels have become very popular.”

Also on the list of popular books are realistic fiction novels, such as To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee as well as Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. These two books are currently featured in Oakwood’s curriculum.

“I like realistic fiction books the most because they’re easiest to understand and I can relate to them more,” Lydia Beyer (9) said.

The Oakwood curriculum also includes classical literature books such as Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

“Nonfiction and classical literature are typically challenging for students,” Ashworth said. “The library currently has a mix of both young adult and adult books.”

Some authors argue that it is important for young people to be exposed to classic literature such as Jane Eyre so that they are prepared for the college level reading they will do after high school. The National Association of Scholars indicates that appropriate books in a college setting include works of classical literature written over a long period of time, such as Confessions by Augustine (390 A.D.) or The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678).

“If you examine the top 40 lists of what students are reading today in 6th–12th grade, you will find much of it is not complex enough to prepare them for the rigors of college and career,” David Coleman, author of Common Core State Standards, wrote.“Teachers, parents, and students need to work together to ensure that students are reading far more challenging books and practicing every year reading more demanding text.”

 

By Sara Hagan

hagan.sara@oakwoodschools.org

 

 

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