Department rallies to reverse reading rate decline


Bella Martin

Sophomore Shannon Tragesar reads “Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of the Brady Bunch as Told by the Father/Son Team who Really Know” by Sherwood and Lloyd J. Schwartz in Alicia Drechsler’s 2B Honors 10 English class Feb. 14.

Anna Mason and Annabel Park

Sophomore Shannon Tragesar has read more this year than ever before.
“I’ve read five books and last year I read none, besides the books we were forced to read,” she said.
Her change in habits is because of a new program encouraging English teachers to leave 10 minutes of class for free reading.
Tragesar has already noticed benefits.
“I read faster, which makes my homework go by quicker,” she said.
English department Chairman Jason Bowman said the program stemmed from students reading below their grade level and underperforming on standardized assignments.
“The idea was that if they read one or two or three books throughout the year, that would be an improvement,” Bowman said.
English teacher Alicia Drechsler is one of the teachers who has implemented the program.
“A lot of kids have told me ‘Oh I haven’t read a book in a while, this is nice’ or ‘I used to read a lot, I just haven’t had the chance to read,’” she said.
Drechsler has compiled a library of books in her class, many of which she has obtained from donations and from the website
“I’ve seen more kids getting books from me than the actual school library,” she said.
The book club has also mobilized to promote more widespread reading.
Junior Kirsten Roys, who joined the club her freshman year and again her junior year, said the club is choosing easier and more interesting books.
“I think a good book has a likeable character who’s narrating, or it’s narrated from an interesting point of view,” Roys said. “One of my favorite books is ‘The Book Thief’ and that will be February’s book.”
Junior Lindsay Docken, book club member, also enjoys reading in her free time.
“Reading helps me experience a new world or escape reality,” Docken said. “I love anything by John Green, Cassandra Clare or Ally Carter.”
But Docken noticed a trend among the required reading for English class.
“Some of the books are good, like Shakespeare, which inspired a lot of other works,” she said. “But some of them can be thick or dull to read. Picking better books would definitely encourage reading.”
The next book club meeting will be March 15 and will cover “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
Regardless of the content or setting in which students read, Bowman reiterates the need for habitual reading.
“Arguing about reading is like arguing against glaciers. There’s just no point arguing against it,” he said. “It’s something you need to do well at otherwise your life’s going to be more of a struggle.”