Booking time for independent reading

Reading is a vital part of developing English-language skills

I still cannot decide if it was the best of times or the worst of times.

I refer to the ninth grade literature and writing class independent reading assignment, which has the potential to either be a beautiful success or a monotonous trudge.

Independent reading in lit/writ allows students to develop the skill of visualizing a story through words. (Photo by Parth Dhaulakhandi)

There are three parts to this assignment: reading a self-chosen novel, reflecting on the book in journal entries that are due every two weeks and a final project about the chosen book. This assignment is repeated three times throughout the school year, with the final project and journal entry logistics changing each time.

Ultimately, reading, like other skills, must be practiced according to The National Council of Teachers of English and all English classes at the school would greatly benefit from integrating independent reading projects in their curriculum.

I enjoyed reading my chosen novel in my literature and writing class, and noticed a change in my writing after reading well-structured books. In the first semester, my book, “Scythe” by Neal Shusterman, was recommended to me. This book had a profound effect on me because it expressed a dystopian society I had envisioned many times before. I went on to read the sequel, and plan to complete the trilogy soon. 

Afterwards, I noticed my writing somewhat adapted to the author’s method of organization. For example, I found myself adding more subtle details while describing scenery. Reading can further improve key writing skills, such as structure and flow, when students are taught to enjoy and immerse themselves in literature, according to Routledge.

Additionally, an entire class period is devoted to exploring recommendations, so when students select their books, they are making informed choices that best correspond to their interests. I was exposed to this book series only because of this assignment, and I am grateful I got to read such a literary masterpiece.

Although this assignment has been a great stimulus for students to read more often and reflect upon their reading, when reading a book I am not fully interested in, I often feel the book is more of a chore than an escape.

However, there are benefits to reading books that don’t suit personal interests, whether it be because of their storyline or because of their writing style. Making notes of what doesn’t make sense can help develop overall comprehension, according to Purdue Global, and reading diverse types of literature can help expose students to new ideas and expand their worldview. For example, “Scythe” allowed me to think about topics I do not otherwise pay attention to, such as corruption.

Independent reading is a great addition to the lit/writ curriculum as it encourages students to immerse themselves in literature and be inspired by accomplished authors, learning from both their form and word choice. So let us say bye to the age of foolishness, and hello to the age of wisdom and delve into a fine piece of literature.