Reading is reading. Does it matter what you're reading?Friday, May 18, 2007 By Jessica Cabrera
This is a sentence. Quite obviously, you are able to comprehend this sentence, which implies you are literate. Perhaps not an intellectual, but literate indeed, which leads me to the following question: what is the difference between reading this newspaper article or a timeless classic like, let’s say, The Adventure’s Of Huckleberry Finn. In fact, what’s the difference between reading this newspaper article, or a magazine article? I, for one, am clueless to the answer of the question I have posed. Reading comprehension is reading comprehension, regardless of the material that is being read. The same skills that are applied when reading a graphic novel, a newspaper article, or even an advertisement. The student gathers the most important details from the text, summarizes the information, and from that, the student attempts to answer almost formulaic questions: why was the text written, what audience was the text written for, etc. “If you’re reading a magazine or a newspaper, it may be more beneficial sometimes than a novel… [Magazines and newspapers] promote students choosing credibility. It haves them evaluate if it [information] may or may not be true, and because novels are false, they can’t bring that into factor,” Michelle Austero, freshman English teacher, said. However, there are some teachers that feel that a magazine or a short story is not appropriate reading material for the ten minute reading interval assigned at the beginning of the class period. Countless times I have seen teachers tell students to close a magazine, and take out a novel. “My teachers really do not let me read a magazine. They’re always telling me to close it and take out something that is worth reading,” Jorge Hernandez, junior at Columbus, said. The objective of the reading period is meant to increase reading levels, and interest students in reading. “To my belief, [the policy states] that as long as it is ten-minutes of reading, it is upon the teacher’s discretion,” Austero said. Yet a novel, although it may be considered “appropriate reading material,” may not interest all students. Some may find an issue of National Geographic and its feature on the African Plains more appealing than a copy of Harry Potter. Then there are those students who would rather read magazines such as AP [Alternative Press] which features various up-and-coming artists in the alternative music genre a more pleasant read, instead of the biography of an American president. “Newsweek is one of my favorite publications, and I wish I could read it, but I do not even try to take it out during class in case my teacher tells me to put it away. I would rather avoid that,” Damian Garcia, sophomore, said. It can be argued that magazines, graphic novels, and even newspaper articles do not provide the historical background, or the analysis skills a traditional novel can. The use of literary devices and symbolism may be diluted, but the fact of the matter is that the student is still reading, and building a habit that can later be applied to contemporary literature, or classic literature. Newspapers and magazines also provide bountiful information regarding present day society, which can be crucial to success in life. In fact, last year’s NRT featured the menu for a Subway sandwich restaurant. If those are the standards that the government expects us to meet, and if it is deemed acceptable by the standards of one of those magical tests everyone is oh-so-eager to appease, then why is an article in a magazine not acceptable?