High school students would benefit from frequent library visits



Southern Lehigh students should be able to have class time to visit the library.

Books in the Southern Lehigh High School library have sat unused for so long that it’s now called the Media Center. But reading is an essential life skill and instrumental to education, as well as a potentially therapeutic activity. Therefore, English classes should visit the library at least once a month, so students can practice comprehension skills on literature of their choice and de-stress from the school day’s typical classroom instruction.

Mrs. Tina Lentz, the Media Center Administrative Assistant, is largely responsible for helping students check out books. She feels that reading is very important to education, and therefore encourages intentionally inviting English classes to the library.

“I think that is a wonderful idea,” Mrs. Lentz said. “Students still do come in and try to find some things, but not as many … I think they all should come down and find a book to read.”

First, consider the benefits of reading for education. In school, students must read textbooks and articles for almost every course, be able to interpret worded questions during tests, understand written instructions for class activities, and so on. In fact, you’re reading right now. The necessity of comprehension skills doesn’t end at graduation, either; nearly all college courses require extensive textbook analysis. Then, in the world beyond, most careers require reading to receive instructions, perform tasks, communicate across email, and more. 

English teacher Mrs. Lauren Tocci agrees that visits to the library could help prepare students for the future.

“I think about how much time our college-bound students will be spending in their college’s library,” Mrs. Tocci said. “Engaging with those resources now is such a benefit. I think you will use it your whole life.”

Students should be given plenty of opportunities to read in high school, since consistent practice can increase reading speed and comprehension of difficult material. Moreover, library visits could support English classes’ curriculum by exposing the variety of writing in the real world, thereby illustrating abstract literary concepts with practical examples. These visits would also provide an opportunity for students to locate books of their choice. Since people are more likely to engage with literature that interests them, this would increase the chances that they take advantage of it. 

“I think reading is very important for students’ education because it broadens their imagination,” freshman Elizabeth Kane said. “It allows them to learn new words to add to their vocabulary, and gives them something to work their brain instead of just staring at the computer.”

Furthermore, visiting the library would be a needed break for students, as it would allow an intermission from typical classroom instruction. A chance to explore the library or escape into a book that they find personally interesting, while still educational for the reasons outlined above, would also be enjoyable. In fact, a 2009 study conducted by Mindlab International consultants and the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 68 percent.

“I think reading is a very calming activity because it helps you see another world and perspective,” Kane said. “It helps you calm down as you think about things other than tests coming up.”

The library is not lacking material, either; plenty of works line the shelves, with everything from fantasy to research studies, so Mrs. Lentz feels these visits would be feasible.

“We used to do it,” she said. “Last year, Mrs. Touma and Mr. Fay’s classes came down and all the students would pick out a book. I think it was great.”

Some might argue that, since Southern Lehigh offers digital reading resources like Overdrive Sora and World Book Online, it’s unnecessary to encourage students to use physical copies from the school. However, setting aside time for English classes to visit the library emphasizes the importance of reading for students who wouldn’t seek out online books on their own. Furthermore, Mrs. Tocci feels that the space itself is conducive to learning.

“I think that engagement with physical objects in a virtual world is so important,” she said. “As we’ve gotten so used to digital resources in the 21st century, we can forget how important physical space can be to providing some sort of engagement and excitement. … It would have such a positive impact.”