Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why A Teen Should Read More Than Just Text Messages, Twitter Updates & Facebook Statuses

Reading isn’t a very popular “hobby” in our youth culture. In fact, it's considered “uncool” among most teens. Reading doesn't have a very good reputation anymore, unless it involves texting, Facebooking, or some other social media. Why would you want to read, anyway? Here are four common excuses a teen may use for not having the desire to read:

  1. I’m not much of a reader. I’d rather watch the movie instead. Reading doesn’t have to be so much of a task. It really isn’t. Perhaps you should start by watching the movie, then buying the book and comparing the two.
  2. I just don’t have the patience to read. If you’re one of those ADD people who can’t sit in the same spot for longer than five minutes – unless you’re on the computer or watching TV, of course – then maybe you’d like to buy a book on tape and listen to you as you’re working out or cleaning your room.
  3. I just don’t have time between school, sports, chores, my job, etc. This excuse is understandable. However, it’s also ridiculous. You do have time to read. You just have to find it. Carry a book in your purse with you throughout the day. Read chapters (or just a few sentences) here and there, whenever you have any free time on the way home from school or right before you going to bed at night. Maybe replace your evening Facebook time with reading. Or just read on the weekends when your time is more flexible.
  4. I don’t like reading because the books school assigns us to read are so boring. This is an excuse that I can agree with. I used to also be sort of a non-reader in middle school, only because the books that we were forced to read didn't exactly grab my attention because of the flowery writing styles and pace of the story. Therefore, I never had the patience to read, much less actually know what was going on. Realize, though, that these kind of books are from different eras. Those kind of books aren't the only books in the bookstores. Writing styles have changed. Not to mention, young adult fiction is not half as dreadful. YA fiction is just like watching a chick flick in most cases - except it's in print. On paper. In your hands rather than on the television screen. And instead of killing brain cells it actually increases them.

Now that you don’t have anymore excuses not to read, back to the question. Why should a teen read more than text messages, Twitter updates, and Facebook statuses?

  • Reading provides a sense of escape from the real world and is an invitation into a fiction world. Of course, this may not always be healthy – but we all need a little escape at times.
  • You can learn a lot of knowledge and wisdom from reading Christian fiction.
  • By reading, you may learn how to deal with a certain situation in your life when those issues are presented in the novels. This is mostly why I love Christian fiction, because you learn how to handle situations in a Christian view.
  • Reading gives you the ability to pause and think. You can pause a movie, of course. But who pauses a movie just to reflect on what just happened?
  • Reading helps you to see from all different point of views. Books have various perspectives – the underdog. The popular cheerleader. The emo kid. Instead of seeing people and judging them based on the surface, books give you the ability to dig deeper into their lives and give you a sense of understanding and sympathy towards them rather than judgment. I love having a window into characters lives - characters with all different personalities who have gone through situations I've never been through.
  • Unlike watching a movie, reading allows you to get inside a character's head. Hear their thoughts and feel what they feel. People become more connected to the characters on pages than they do to characters on screens.
  • Reading helps improve writing, whether or not you're considering pursuing writing as a career. Many schools don't teach writing as much as they should, and it's something that we'll continue having to do throughout our lives. Writing texts to your friends doesn't help improve your writing – if anything it worsens your writing. Read more, so that you can learn the correct way to write.
  • You’ll feel better about reading a book instead of watching a movie. At least I do. Watching a movie is effortless. All you have to do is sit down on the couch, pop in a DVD and bring out the popcorn – only to fall asleep by the end of it. When you're reading, you're not only enjoying a story, but you're also helping your reading comprehension skills which will help you in your school work and on tests.
  • Stories you read stay with you for a long time. You have more time to fall in love with the characters and the setting. You get to stay longer instead of having to be rushed through the story and eventually forget what the whole thing was about.
  • You can bring a book and read anywhere. You can’t exactly do that with a movie, unless you’re planning on carrying around a television with you as well.
  • And the most obvious - reading helps to stretch the imagination, which is always a good thing.
Yes, reading can be even more enjoyable than watching a movie: cuddling up with a book in hand and hot coffee to sip. In silence. Only you and your imagination, and the words on the page.

The next time you’re tempted to buy a chick flick, I dare you to go to a bookstore instead. Read a novel rather than watch a movie. Find the type of genre that seems more appealing to you, which will probably be YA fiction if you're a teen. You’ll become so lost in the book that you’ll forget that you’re actually reading instead of watching a movie. You won’t even realize that you’re sitting in your quiet bedroom.

That’s the magic of reading. It can take you to some other place, all because of words. Not film. Not actors. But words.

Are you a teen reader, or a teen non-reader? Why or why not?
What are some other advantages someone could gain from reading a book rather than watching a movie?
Do you think YA fiction is becoming less and less popular since it seems there aren't many teenagers who read anymore?


  1. Interesting you should post this wonderful insight about teens and reading. It occurred to me that texting and social media contact have removed the emotions of personal contact. As writers we convey passion, textures, hollows, etc. using dazzling words and sparkling speech. It seems that these nuances are missed in a quick text, and short quip.

  2. Totally agree with everything you said in this post! I think everyone could benefit from a bit more reading in their lives!

  3. I'm so glad my 10 year old loves to read. Hopefully, that will stay with her always. :O)

  4. It's a pity reading has been so much abandoned in recent years, and that when young men and women do read, they usually read books of little worth. So many lovely books - like the classics - are now put down for being too slow, because we live in such an ADD society. I think that movies are a lovely invention, but nothing beats the written word.

  5. Ray: Texting and social media is definitely a huge cause for this crave for not only a fast-paced life, but fast-paced entertainment. No wonder people struggle so much with impatience!

    Shaynie: I agree! Reading has become not only less popular within the youth culture, but among adults as well.

    Diane: Reading is a great early habit to develop! I also used to love to read in elementary school, kind of stopped in middle school - but picked it back up once I entered high school. Usually people who started reading as a young kid continue to have the same passion throughout their lives. =)

    Abigail: I love the term "ADD society". It fits the culture that we live in today completely. I admit, I don't read much classics, only because I often zone out and forget that I'm reading... lol. However, I have fallen in love with a few, so I understand where you're coming from. Today novels are much like watching movies on paper. It all started because of television, because of the internet, because of our society getting what we want and when we want it. And although I do love to watch movies, I agree. Nothing beats the written word. =)

  6. I am most definitely a teen reader! One of my favorite things to do is get lost in a book. Sometimes, when I think back on a story theme I can't remember if it was a book I read or a movie I watched. Hehe ;)


  7. I am a teen reader! ;D Love your blog. Sadly here in Brazil we don't have so much Christian fiction for teens.


Thanks for stopping by my blog!