A Girl’s Perspective on Reading in NJ Schools

Reading has always been one of my greatest passions. I still remember learning to read in elementary school and being amazed that squiggly lines on a page could contain entire worlds. Now as a high schooler, I wanted to share my perspective on how reading is taught in NJ schools and why it’s so important to me.

In the younger grades, reading time felt almost magical. My teachers would gather all us kids on a rug and read aloud beautiful picture books. I loved getting lost in the colorful illustrations and following along with the stories.

As we progressed to reading on our own, I devoured every book on the classroom shelves. Reading workshops let me practice comprehension strategies while also reading just for pleasure. My teachers guided me through more complex texts but also allowed time simply to enjoy reading.

That balance has continued even now that I’m older. In my high school English classes, we analyze great works of literature like Shakespeare and dissect rhetorical strategies. But we also have silent sustained reading time to explore our own interests.

Having that freedom to pick my own books has allowed me to discover new passions. I’ve learned so much about social justice issues, historical time periods, and the experiences of people very different from myself. Reading has expanded my worldview tremendously.

Beyond the academics, reading also provides me comfort and an escape from everyday stresses. Returning to a great book feels like meeting back up with an old friend. And diving deep into an exciting new story helps me forget about worries for a little while.

Reading isn’t just something I’m required to do for school – it’s a lifelong hobby that brings me joy. NJ schools have done a wonderful job nurturing that by balancing curriculum with choice reading.

Another thing I appreciate is how reading is celebrated through things like our school reading challenge program. I love competing with friends to see who can read the most pages each month. Small incentives like that motivate me to push myself further.

Overall, I’m so thankful for the reading foundation NJ schools have given me. I know not all students have access to as many resources and supportive teachers. The fact that I can explore limitless books in my school library or classrooms means so much.

My hope is that someday every student in NJ and beyond develops a passion for reading. There are so many perspectives and worlds awaiting us between those pages. Reading teaches empathy, critical thinking, and gives us a glimpse into lives far different from our own. With more reading, I believe society as a whole could become more compassionate and informed. NJ schools have put me on that lifelong path, and for that I’m endlessly grateful.