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August 08, 2019 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily

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Thursday, August 8, 2019
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.

Editorial Page Editor

Zack Blumberg
Emma Chang
Emily Considine
Joel Danilewitz
Emily Huhman

Tara Jayaram
Jeremy Kaplan
Magdalena Mihaylova
Ellery Rosenzweig
Jason Rowland

Anu Roy-Chaudhury
Alex Satola
Timothy Spurlin
Nicholas Tomaino
Erin White
Ashley Zhang

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily’s Editorial Board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.

Editor in Chief



remember my early childhood
as the stack of picture books
my parents read to my brother
and me each night before we went
to bed. My consistent reading habits
were rooted in these bedtime stories
and grew throughout my primary
school experience. I would take
bi-weekly library trips with my mom
that would result in her cutting the
stack of eight novels I brought up to
checkout to four. I had every reading
phase a young, Gen Z child could
have, from my obsession with “Harry
Potter” to the classic “Little House on
the Prairie,” both of which I enjoyed
while using the flashlight I hid under
my bed so I could stay up for “just
one more chapter.” But as life got
busier and filled with school, work
and the balance of everything else,
recreational reading began to take a
backseat in my life.
I’m a communication studies
and film, television and media
double major. I am an editor
and (sometimes) writer for The
Michigan Daily. I research current
events and build presentations
for the Residential College forum
I co-facilitate. I’ve spent the last
10 weeks of my summer working
as an archival research assistant.
While I still read constantly, it’s
hard to find the drive to read
anything not assigned to me in one
obligations. I’m confident this
feeling is a popular sentiment
among other college students.
Research highlights that reading
for pleasure can lead to an increase
in empathy, improved interpersonal

effects of depression and an increase
in general well-being. Additionally,
promoting reading for pleasure
— especially among children —
is considered so important that
professors like Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
dub it a civil rights issue, an argument
taken by him and colleague Michael
W. Smith in their book “Reading
Unbound,” due to pleasure reading
being a “more powerful predictor
than even parental socioeconomic
status and educational attainment.”
Major longitudinal studies highlight
the same set of facts about reading
in youth: It is one of the greatest
explanatory factors of cognitive
progress and social mobility.
However, despite these benefits,
the 2018 American Time Use Survey
performed by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics found that the share of
Americans 15 and older who read
for pleasure fell by more than 30
percent since 2004 — dropping from
28 percent to 19 percent. This raises
the question: If the general American
public isn’t prioritizing reading, how
is the next generation going to?
While my reading has decreased
over the past few years, my connection
to it has not. I still acknowledge the
impact of reading and writing on my
thinking, on my understanding of the
world and other identities, on me as
a person. Reading provides insight
into alternative experiences and
perspectives — it is an introduction to
the world as a multi-dimensional and
complex space. These are the benefits
of reading that every English teacher
has raved about, but it’s something

that American citizens — including
myself — need to do a better job of
encouraging in our communities
and daily lives. We cannot allow
reading rates to continue to decrease.
We must push ourselves and those
around us, especially those younger
than us, to centralize reading.
My inspiration for this op-ed
spurred from the unfortunate passing
of Nobel laureate Toni Morrison on
Monday. Morrison’s contributions
to literature are prolific, with a body
of work that spans 11 novels and also
includes both children’s books and
essay collections. Her novels, which
were revered by both the public and
critics, illuminate the Black — and
largely female — experience through
awe-inspiring prose. Reading about
her loss saddened me on behalf of
the American public. Her words
impacted so many minds and hearts.
“Beloved,” the winner of the 1988
Pulitzer Prize and one of my favorite
novels of all time, taught me lessons
about home, memory and gender
that I didn’t know I needed to learn
until after I closed back cover. And
these feelings of mourning have
been common, as evident from the
outcries of sympathy and admiration
by famous figures, as well as the posts
by many of my friends, indicating
a deeper emotional and social
connection to reading that should be
spread throughout our country.


Erin White is the Summer Editorial

Page Editor and can be reached at


Read, even when you don’t have to


Mutual friends


Undergraduate students are encouraged
to apply for an Opinion column for Fall
term. Email the Editorial Page Editors
Joel Danilewitz (joeldan@umich.edu)
and Magdalena Mihaylova (mmihaylo@
umich.edu) for application materials.

Readers are encouraged to submit letters
to the editor and op-eds. Letters should
be fewer than 300 words while op-
eds should be 550 to 850 words. Send
the writer’s full name and University
affiliation to

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