Do Students Still Read?

Librarian+Stacy+Udo+helping+a+student.

Librarian Stacy Udo helping a student.

Ffiona Phillips, Journalist

The Olympia High School Library is full of many great books that students over the years have had the pleasure of reading. Some people chose to read as a leisure activity while some read only when required. Though how much a student reads isn’t entirely up to the student. Many other things have an effect on whether a student has the time to read. 

Librarian Stacy Udo comments “Even kids who are avid readers in Elementary and Middle School come to Highschool and their workload is a lot harder and more demanding, and all of the sudden pleasure reading gets pushed to the side.” Supporting this statement, Sophomore Lilah DeBoer says, “I think I read less now than I did in Middle School because I’m so busy with extracurricular activities and I have way more homework.” Students wanting to read is only the first step to getting students to read. Students also need to have the time to read. DeBoer goes on to say “I would definitely read more if I didn’t have as much homework, it would be a great thing to do with my time.” When asked if she would read more if she didn’t have as much homework, Sophomore Diana Kaufman exclaimed “YES!” It’s shown that when students have the free time, a majority of them will read. Thinking back to when students had an abundance of free time, did they read then? “I do think the pandemic helped bring back the love of reading for some students because during full remote learning they had more time to juggle classroom stuff and reading,” Says Udo. 

During the pandemic when students weren’t in class, and when they weren’t reading, a majority of many students’ free time was spent on social media. How does social media affect a student’s reading? Udo comments on the subject, saying “My daughter is getting all of these book recommendations through BookTok, which is really great. I myself use Instagram to keep up with publishers and book bloggers to see what’s popular and what’s coming in.” Udo and other library staff have dedicated a small portion of the library to display books that are popular on BookTok to provide easy access to students. Kaufman said she has gotten book recommendations off of Social Media. DeBoer on the other hand, states “I’ve gotten some recommendations from friends but not really off social media, sometimes social media can be pretty addicting in ways and can distract from reading books.” Udo adds, “Most of the requests that I get from students for books we don’t already have, stem from BookTok or Instagram especially with kids posting fanart and fanfiction.” “Every day I was posting stuff about digital citizenship and books, and authors.” She says, “Since we’ve been back in person I’ve kind of let all of that go, and I need to intentionally figure out how to bring that back in because that was fun and I felt I was able to push across to a wider audience.”

When asked about what the library does to promote books Udo states, “The pandemic brought about a book club, and we did things virtually the first year, and we did things like book bingos, and we go together every couple of weeks to talk about what we were reading and we read things in common. It’s a small group and hopefully we will continue to grow.” Udo also mentions doing battle of the books yearly, which helps promote books in the library.