OPINION: Rediscover reading

Reading provides entertainment, skills for college students



From children to adults, reading has something to offer everybody.


We are reading less and less. About 27 percent of U.S adults haven’t read a book in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center. Another study from the Washington Post found a 30 percent decline in the number of Americans who read on any given day.

This is staggering. What used to be a prominent form of entertainment has gradually been replaced by TV, video games and social media. We seem to be forgetting how great of a pastime reading can be and just how much we can get from it. We have the free time for it now, so let’s read more.

There are many benefits to reading. Perhaps the simplest but most important of them is that you can learn something.

WSU English professor Peter Chilson said when he was growing up, he was always drawn to reading more than other forms of entertainment and was able to learn new things because of it.

“For me, TV wasn’t enough,” Chilson said. “I found that reading unlocked my own imagination, and in unlocking my own imagination, it helped access and develop my intellect.”

Chilson also said he was introduced to new worlds and places in the wide array of books he read in his formative years.

“I was traveling all over the world in books,” he said.

When you read a book, you are living in someone else’s shoes and experiencing what the characters experience firsthand. WSU Librarian Lorena O’English said this makes reading a great way to develop empathy.

“[Reading] gets you out of your own life into other people’s lives, and you learn stuff,” she said. “Reading basically is an engine for so much about expanding your perception and knowledge of the world.”

There are many reasons why people might not read. Among them are boredom, an inability to focus or disinterest. However, I believe there are always ways for people to read. If sitting down and staring at pages isn’t your cup of tea, you can always listen to an audiobook.

Sometimes all it takes is a good book to get us to start reading. When the Harry Potter series first came out, people who weren’t big-time readers became obsessive readers. If reading isn’t something that makes you excited, you just haven’t found the right book yet.

On the university level, college students might not read for a multitude of reasons. Many students have enough to read as it is. Between homework assignments, textbook chapters and academic journal articles, it can be hard to find the time to fit in reading for pleasure.

While reading isn’t exactly what a lot of college students have in mind for fun, it can be a great way to relax and is not a hard thing to do right before bed or during breakfast.

O’English said college students can read for pleasure as a way to take a break from school.

“A lot of times, [students] are really stressed out over scholarly readings,” she said. “Sometimes it’s really, really good to take a break from all that and go read something for fun.”

There are also practical skills to be gained from reading. Chilson said it is possible to develop and enhance communicative skills through reading, making it an even more beneficial pastime for students.

“I think a lot of reading and wide reading improves one’s ability to use language,” he said. “It improves one’s writing. I’m absolutely convinced of this, and it improves one’s speaking ability.”

The age of technology has brought with it more TV shows, movies and video games than we know what to do with. These are all great in their own ways, but reading has been overshadowed. It might seem almost like an antiquated form of entertainment now, but reading is still just as good and enjoyable for us.

Now, with canceled plans and boredom constants in our lives, reading is a great way to fill empty space in your day. Next time you’re bored, go to your local (or university) library or bookstore, find a good book, and let the words do the rest.