Andrew Zerman is a sophomore English major. He is a staff writer for the Newswire from Cleveland.
I greatly attribute my interest in becoming a high school English teacher to my upbringing. As a kid, I didn’t have many video games and my TV time was rationed. Instead, my parents taught me to allocate my free time to reading, as they believed that reading brought many of the benefits that videogames would not. While most kids would ask for a GameCube for Christmas, I would ask for a new book. Likewise, kids’ primary source of excitement for the weekend was playing video games while mine was leisurely reading. Reading as a child brought me many benefits in life today, including the fact that I’ve had the intent of building a career of some sort in English from the age of six.
Just look at people who read the most around you; you can tell that reading makes you more analytical. Beginners are usually around the ages of five or six — focusing on just sounding out the words and trying to learn. They are not reading for meaning or deep understanding. They are just developing cognitive skills used throughout the rest of their lives.
Those who are past this stage, though, engage with critical thinking skills. It extends beyond the mere “what” with regards to the interpretation of a text, it includes the “how” and the “why.” Likewise, for full understanding of a topic in a class it is important to gather as much information as you can. Once I got past that beginning stage of reading, I became more inquisitive, by nature, within the classroom and many teachers are fond of that trait in students.
My vocabulary was also greatly improved by reading. This newly acquired vocabulary was implemented moreso in my writing than it was in my speech, but it still benefitted me nonetheless. Obviously, there was a strong correlation between my vocabulary level and the difficulty of the books that I was reading. It is not the every day slang that cultivates vocabulary, it is literature. You can see this everyday here on campus: Our professors at Xavier have spent their lives reading and analyzing texts in their fields and have particularly strong word repertoires.
As college students, we experience an extremely high amount of stress every day. While alleviating stress can be difficult and easily become a pathway for unhealthy coping mechanisms, reading is always a healthy and readily available solution. Reading provides a world that can be quite different from everyday life, and it can serve as an oasis from stress. In the aftermath of a stressful day, reading is always what I have resorted to in lieu of staring at a screen.
Reading stimulates imagination. Imagination is what is particularly valued in society, not the regurgitation of facts that some teachers try to shove down the throats of their students. Imagination is often a skill that will be crucial when searching the job market. One significant facet of academic reading is literary interpretation. This involves people putting themselves in the shoes of the writers, which is very much a learned concept. It is rare for people to have the same interpretation of a text because of the variability of the human mind. The beauty in this is that there is not necessarily a “right” or a “wrong” with regards to interpretations.
The assets that leisurely reading can provide for people far exceed the word limits of this article. In this fast-paced world of technology at our fingertips, it can be difficult to slow down and enjoy an activity such as reading. Yet, ironically enough, we are in a generation where it is more necessary than ever. So, what are you waiting for? Start looking for books and utilize your time the right way.