Library Offers Personalized Reading Lists

Photos by Noa Schabes ’17.

As a self-professed “bookworm” from a very young age, I have spent much of my free time consumed by the imaginary worlds created by different authors. However cheesy and nerdy that may be, I think there is a lot to be learned from books. Reading is a great way to relax and tune out the world for a little while.

But as I’ve grown up—and I’m sure many of my classmates and friends would agree—my time for reading or other hobbies has been chewed up by homework, after school activities and the college admissions process. My leisurely reading time is precious, and I no longer have time to research books I might enjoy. With this in mind, Head Librarian Megan Dolan is supporting reading for fun by creating personalized reading lists for any community member.

Students fill out a form based on their favorite movies, TV shows, books and authors. “We could be doing more to promote reading for fun in the School,” Dolan says, adding that appealing to individual interest is the best way to get books into student’s hands.

Dolan realizes that at the end of a long day, most students are tired—and reading for fun is far from their minds. Turning on a TV seems more appealing than picking up a book, but this isn’t necessarily the best choice. “It turns out that happy people watch less TV, but the same correlation does not happen with reading,” Dolan says. “People who read more are more likely to be happy.” Dolan also points out that reading, especially reading fiction, helps to develop empathy.

According to Scientific American, researchers have found “evidence that literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling.”  In essence, readers are encouraged to understand complex emotions and empathize with a character’s challenges. Such empathy translates to the real world, with readers better equipped to understand differences and handle adversity.

Certainly, reading also reduces stress levels. According to the National Reading Campaign in Canada, those who read are more likely to report being in good or excellent mental health. Another study at the University of Sussex found that reading reduces stress levels by as much as 68 percent. In addition, reading for as little as 6-minutes each day is enough to reduce stress levels by 60 percent, while also slowing one’s heart rate and easing muscle tension.

English teacher Kenley Smith emphasizes that reading is most crucial thing for preparing students for success. Smith also echoes the importance of reading to reduce stress. “It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare or Moby Dick. It could be The Hunger Games or Alice in Wonderland. It can be anything.”

Smith also suggests that reluctant readers seek out  Dolan or a librarian at a public library.