My ideas for increasing reading in high school students
I love reading. I love books. It's hard to measure but I have an idea that teens today are reading as much as ever. But, they are not consuming content that heightens knowledge or understanding. Instead, they are reading text messages, Twitter feeds, etc.
1. Better funding for school libraries
2. Make more of "the classics" available in electronic format.
And make them free downloads. Maybe from the school. Maybe the local library.
3. Assign reading to students.
But the assignments have to be both interesting to the students and germane to the area of study.
4. Encourage writing.
Writing and reading go hand in hand.
5. Have a portion of coursework that can only be accessed by reading.
It won't be taught, mentioned, reviewed, etc. in class. If you didn't read it, you didn't get it.
6. Challenge them to have "unplugged" time.
Students could keep log of the amount of time they spent doing "unplugged" activities. Reading, board games, etc. Rewards could be given for reaching certain goals.
7. Gift books.
8. Demand a high level of reading comprehension.
Many kids don't enjoy reading because it is difficult for them. This is a failing of education. Be requiring good reading skills we are setting our kids up for success and for a lifetime of enjoyment.
9. Have dedicated reading time.
Spend fifteen minutes a day in supervised reading. Let the teen pick the material but it must be a physical book, text, etc. There is no quiz or book report due. They simply read. No sleeping allowed.
10. Demonstrate that not everything is in Wiki or Google.
Create programs that require the use of printed materials. Try to invoke a sense of discovery.
11. Create a required but independent reading list.
a) Educators create a list of perhaps 100 great works from a variety of genres.
b) These would not include any works already included elsewhere in the course of studies.
c) Over the course of their 4 yrs. of high school, each student would be responsible for a set number of independent essays. One for each book they chose from the list. Maybe a dozen over the four years. Again, outside of any other curriculum requirements.
d) Perhaps a better alternative is that each time a student finishes a book, they have a chat about it with a teacher or advisor.
e) Many, if not most high schools now require a certain number of community service hours for graduation. Perhaps as an incentive, we could give students 2-3 hrs credit per book completed and discussed. This would be another form of tangible reward for the teen.
12. Have teen-oriented events hosted by the local library.
And don't even mention books or reading. Game night, movie night, chess club. Have the local car club hold a meeting at the library. Host an E-sports competition. Or just a separate room to hang out with friends after school. The more time people spend at the library, the more likely they are to discover all that they have to offer.