As students in the Australian education system, reading has been a constant presence since kindergarten and yet by the time we reach year 12, a majority of students only read the texts ascribed to them for study and nothing else. Most people say “I hate reading”, “books are boring”, “books are a waste of time” etc. and yet it is perhaps the most vital skill a HSC student could possess. One of the greatest regrets of most of my classmates in HSC was that they did not read enough beforehand, thus holding them back from reaching the levels of success of the readers within our grade. So, how do we change this and why is it important?
Why is reading important?
The short answer is, the more you read, the more exposure to quality writing, the greater your own writing. The long answer has many different avenues that we can explore.
Ultimately, your brain is a muscle which needs to be exercised regularly in order to perform at its best, just like any other muscle. Reading is a helpful tool in keeping our minds sharp and in helping it to grow, research even indicates that reading helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease! Another concept worth considering is that literature is always composed with a purpose in mind, shaped by the author’s context. By reading texts from different authors, from different eras, with different purposes, you introduce yourself to a whole new realm of understanding and appreciation of different perspectives, understandings and opinions that continue to hold relevance today. This universality of literature is what makes reading such an amazing experience and consequently, why it’s central to your experience as a HSC student. The more you read quality literature, you provide yourself the opportunity to broaden your understanding of different facets of human existence, things like politics, the power of love, racism, abuse of power and other important issues plaguing our past, present and, future.
Another important factor to consider is that the more often one reads quality literature, the greater the likelihood of adopting a more extensive vocabulary and finesse when writing. The greatest authors of our time, including the dreaded playwright Shakespeare, are renowned for their compositions textual integrity, a flawless sense of cohesion that allows their writing to flow seamlessly. This vital quality can only be gained through practice and exposure.
How to get started?
The only way you will regularly read and gain something from your reading is to read something that genuinely entices you, something that encapsulates you so overwhelmingly that you can’t pull yourself away from the book. Most people who haven’t experienced this feeling don’t regularly read and if they do read, it’s because they’re forced to by their school. For that reason they have no idea where to start, neither the motivation, a motivation which comes too late once they realise how beneficial reading could have been to their performance in the HSC had they prioritised it. A good starting point is to determine what genre of literature excites or entices you the most. An easy way to figure this one out is to decide what genre of films you enjoy watching the most and then find a book from that genre. For example, if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter films, a good text would be “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. All you need to do is find what you enjoy and then find that enjoyment in relevant texts.