Paradise Lost

The first time I had to read a book for school,  and not for pleasure was in fourth grade. My teacher gave me “The BFG” by Roald Dahl and a reading log to keep us honest. That day marked the start of a number of years I have spent reading books selected by teachers. With my need to complete schoolwork the right away and with integrity, I have kept up the tradition of reading every classic story ever handed to me from cover to cover, no matter how painstaking it is.

I’ve come to points in my life where my mind has drifted off into the dark forests of SparkNotes, but I have never let the temptation sway me. Even though it was hard to find the point in reading these seemingly unfulfilling books while all my friends got the same grade without even doing the work, I have realized over time that the true reward isn’t in passing the tests.

Now don’t get me wrong, the day I had to trade in “Percy Jackson” for a copy of “The Wednesday Wars” was not a good one. As an avid reader, I despised the fact that I now had to read something that wasn’t for my own enjoyment, but rather for a grade. When reading became a homework assignment instead of a personal hobby, I began to lose hope in the child-like imaginative world that a book like “Harry Potter” can create.

As time moved forward, the problem no longer lied in futile childhood imagination. The benefits of reading the books assigned to us in class began to become hazy. I couldn’t see the difference in grades between myself, who had actually read the book, and the girl sitting next to me, who had looked up the plot online.

However, schools changed; and the types of books changed too. After a while, I found myself enjoying these classic age-old novels. I appreciated them more as I matured and saw their significance. I got lost in the world they created and the notion that others could perform just as well as me without reading became a silly after thought. Even the disappointment of not being able to read books for pleasure faded away after a while. In time, I realized I wasn’t the one missing out on a better grade, they were the ones missing out on a better book.

All in all, I have found ways to fit my own books into my reading schedule. Though the required novels assigned to me in school take up a lot of my time, I have learned that you can make anything work if you are dedicated enough. By starting early in elementary school and reading the intended curriculum I set myself up for success in middle and high school, when these books counted for a lot more. Ultimately, I am satisfied with my decision to keep up with the classics. Although at first difficult, I’m glad that I have seen the day where all of that reading paid off.