I’m sure that I’m not alone in saying that when we were kids, we used to love reading. Were you like me as a child and couldn’t be found without a book in your hand? I know I’m not the only one who spent the majority of their time basking in the glory that was reading, because, back then, reading used to be fun.
There’s something psychological about being incentivized for things that were previously done for your own enjoyment. They call it the overjustification effect. Before students were rewarded for reading, reading was something that mostly all kids enjoyed. Kids would read because they genuinely liked reading, not because they were trying to get a prize for reading the most books in class, or whatever the reward was for the kids who read back in Elementary school. As soon as the prizes started coming though, the actual interest in reading started dwindling. There are the few that hang on and refuse to be moved by pretty, insignificant, rewards, but the majority allow themselves to be swallowed up by the prizes, or the good grade, and then, suddenly, reading doesn’t hold much of an appeal anymore.
I used to love reading, and I still very much do, but not with the same passion I had when I was a kid and just discovering the amazing world books for the first time. Am I alone in saying that? One could blame the educational system for taking the enjoyment out of reading novels, or one could blame themselves and the fact that they’ve just let reading go. But I find it necessary to find some way to bring back the passion that many start with when they first begin reading. So let’s all look back to that first chapter book we all read as a kid. Whatever it was: “Junie B Jones”, “Geronimo Stilton” or “Captain Underpants”, just to name a few — try to draw forth that excitement we had when turning the pages and the sincerity in our actions.
To rekindle that love for reading ,maybe we all just need to take a step back and pick up a book that has nothing to do with the books that we have to read for class. Every year in English class, there is a set curriculum of books that we have to read and study (some get through more pages than others). Then ,there was ORB. But as what happens with teens and books, some were actually reading their novels and just others weren’t. To gain that love of reading again, we need to separate that connection we create when pairing reading with school. Go to the library or Barnes and Noble, and pick up a book and read it cover to cover. You may love it, you may hate it. But if you hate it, pick up another book and try again. If you loved the book, pick up another one and continue on. Hopefully, somewhere along the way you find that book that you fall in love with and that ignites your love of reading to the point where you begin the read again because you want to and you like it, not because of school or the grade.