Why Reading Matters

Why Reading Matters

A good book is more important than you could ever imagine.
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Have you ever read a book that was so good you just couldn’t put it down? This used to happen to me all the time when I was young. I was a voracious reader, and so were many of my classmates.

My parents used to joke that I ate books for breakfast. My friends and I would compete to see who could read the most novels per week, quizzing each other and making up skits about our favorite characters. Elementary school was like being part of a built-in book club. But then, around the end of eighth grade, something changed; there was a downward shift in the popularity of reading. No one had the time. We were teenagers. We had cell phones. We could play games on apps and post photos on Instagram and text, text, text.

In high school, I felt a certain hollowness creep up inside me when I realized that I'd stopped carrying around a novel everywhere I went. No one wanted to talk about books anymore. And the worst part was that I knew something very wrong was happening, but I couldn't put my finger on what.

I recently decided to do some research on this subject, and what I found shocked and astounded me. Reading for pleasure is an activity that is not only declining with age, but dwindling completely across the board. According to an article written by Alison Flood for The Guardian, “The number of American children who say they love reading books for fun has dropped almost 10 percent in the last four years” That's a huge decrease for such a short period of time.

It's no secret that this is closely related to increased use of technology like cell phones, laptops and iPads. David Benby writes for The New Yorker that, for today’s teenagers, when compared to technology, “Reading a book is a weak, petulant claimant on their time. Reading frustrates their smartphone sense of being everywhere at once. Suddenly, they are stuck on that page, anchored, moored, and many are glum about it…Reading anything serious has become a chore, like doing the laundry.”

The draw of technology, of constant connection, eats away at the wonders of books and the magic of fictional worlds. Today’s youth want nothing more than around-the-clock social stimulation, which we can only get from social media, television and texted conversation.

You might be wondering at this point, why should we be so concerned? Some might argue that a love of books is a matter of personal preference, just like some people prefer math or science over the humanities. Many associate reading only with English or history, and this way of thinking needs to stop. Not only does reading have countless benefits on a person's health and intellectual growth, it provides us with empathy, a better capacity to understand the world around us and the people in it.

When you read from the perspective of a certain character, you become one with that person. You feel their experiences as if they were your own. You start to imagine their innermost thoughts and you understand why they act the way they do because you have the unique experience of being inside their head, an experience you can't get from watching TV or movies.

In life, you will meet people who are very different from yourself, and you may be confused because the way they look or act is hard for you to understand. But protagonists in literature come from all different backgrounds.

As a reader, you gain the ability to empathize with others, to understand the struggles, thoughts and experiences of people who are different from what you are used to, which is absolutely necessary for building a habit of tolerance, acceptance and understanding between people of varying cultures or religious, social and economic backgrounds.

Through reading, I have been able to view the inner struggles of a patient in a mental institution, to experience the catastrophes of war from the eyes of a soldier on the front lines and to feel what it was like to be both a slave and a slave owner in pre-Civil War Louisiana, to name only a few.

These are eye-opening experiences from past and present that I would never be able to understand without seeing them through the eyes of a book character. Through reading, the mind can travel, it can imagine and, most importantly, it can understand. You can place yourself in someone else’s life, if only for a few, short hours, and resurface into reality with an enlightened understanding of the trials and variety of human experience.

So I urge you all to pick up a book and start reading. It doesn't matter what the book is; whatever catches your interest. Who knows? You might actually enjoy it. And you'll come away from the experience with a better understanding of the fact that we are all human beings sharing this planet, all just people living our lives and working to accept each other along the way.

In the words of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's famous novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird," "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

Cover Image Credit: Popsugar

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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15 Thing Only Early 2000's Kids Will Understand

"Get connected for free, with education connection"

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This is it early 2000's babies, a compilation finally made for you. This list is loaded with things that will make you swoon with nostalgia.

1. Not being accepted by the late 90's kids.

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Contrary to what one may think, late 90's and early 00's kids had the same childhood, but whenever a 00's kid says they remember something on an "only 90's kids will understand" post they are ridiculed.

2. Fortune tellers.

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Every day in elementary school you would whip one of these bad boys out of your desk, and proceed to tell all of your classmates what lifestyle they were going to live and who they were going to marry.

3.Bunnicula

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You could never read this book past 8 o'clock at night out of fear that your beloved pet rabbit would come after you.

4. Silly bands.

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You vividly remember begging your parents to buy you $10 worth of cheap rubber bands that vaguely resembles the shape of an everyday object.

5. Parachutes.

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The joy and excitement that washed over you whenever you saw the gym teacher pull out the huge rainbow parachute. The adrenaline that pumped through your veins whenever your gym teacher tells you the pull the chute under you and sit to make a huge "fort".

6. Putty Erasers

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You always bought one whenever there was a school store.

7. iPod shuffle.

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The smallest, least technological iPpd apple has made, made you the coolest kid at the bus stop.

8. "Education Connection"

You knew EVERY wood to the "Education Connection" commercials. Every. Single.Word.

9. " The Naked Brothers Band"

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The "Naked Brothers Band" had a short run on Nickelodeon and wrote some absolute bangers including, "Crazy Car' and "I Don't Wanna Go To School"

10. Dance Dance Revolution

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This one video game caused so many sibling, friend, and parent rivalries. This is also where you learned all of your super sick dance moves.

11. Tamagotchi

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Going to school with fear of your Tamagotchi dying while you were away was your biggest worry.

12. Gym Scooters

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You, or somebody you know most likely broke or jammed their finger on one of these bad boys, but it was worth it.

13. Scholastic book fairs

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Begging your parents for money to buy a new book, and then actually spending it on pens, pencils, erasers, and posters.

14.Go-Gurt

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Who knew that putting yogurt in a plastic tube made it taste so much better?

15. Slap Bracelets

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Your school probably banned these for being "too dangerous".

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