The Demise of SSR


Books remain unread by students. Reading during SSR has been on a slow decline in the past few years

Olivia Lusk, Reporter

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Imagine Big Spring in the year 2015. The bell sounds on a chilly Tuesday morning in February. However, it is not a bell announcing a class change. It is, in fact, a bell signaling that SSR has begun. Four days a week, both students and teachers alike, drop whatever they are doing to read.

Flash forward to Big Spring in 2018. The same bell chimes for SSR, however the classrooms participating are slim to none. Teachers are continuing with their lessons. The classrooms that are reading are impostors; the student in the back of the classroom reading on her phone is actually scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. A once enjoyable activity is now well-forgotten. Reading has been placed on the back burner because many don’t see it as important. Elementary schools preach that reading is important, but that same sentiment is lost by the time students reach high school.

Many teachers continue their lesson throughout SSR because they believe the time is better spent learning. However, SSR is only eleven minutes. It is highly unlikely the students will learn life-altering materials during that time. In addition to this, reading for just the eleven minutes can give you benefits both in school and out. 

Studies have shown that reading reduces stress levels. Reading actually can reduce stress up to 68% according to a University of Sussex study. It only took six minutes for the participants stress to decrease; Big Spring’s SSR time is eleven minutes. By reading for the eleven minutes, students stress levels will significantly decrease. It can also help with vocabulary growth, memory advancement, better writing skills, and enhanced analytical thinking skills.

Dean Smith, English and Public Speaking teacher, is a big advocate of SSR and one of the teachers who created the program. Smith said the importance of having SSR is to allow students choice in their reading. Students are more likely to read more if they are reading the materials they enjoy versus books assigned by their English teachers.

With all the benefits that reading can bring, the question is asked why more students don’t read. Perhaps one reason is how overworked the students are. Many of them are involved in one to five Advanced Placement and Honors classes, clubs, sports, band, choir, or musical. Most students simply don’t have time to pick up a book. However, SSR is designed to allow students to escape away from the stress of high school. So, the next time the bell rings at 10:18 for SSR, pick up a book and set down the cell phone.