Reading has always been regarded as a valuable method for students to stimulate their minds. However, the types of novels typically popular among teenagers, such as Twilight and The Fault in Our Stars, are hardly ones that teachers would want to touch. This raises the question of whether teenagers should be encouraged to read the books they enjoy regardless of their quality. Popular novels do have their place as a form of entertainment, but they should not be considered worthy educational tools.
Genre fiction, plot-driven works that fit into familiar categories such as romance, fantasy or mystery, often appeal to young readers because of their potential for escapism—readers can enjoy losing themselves inside an imaginative world. Unfortunately, these popular novels could lack literary quality. They may sacrifice realism for entertainment and advocate questionable morals, distorting young readers’ ideas about life.
Additionally, they are not as effective in developing linguistic skills as other novels may be. Potentially simplistic or poor quality prose becomes accepted by the reader, hindering their reading and writing ability, and insufficiently preparing them for more difficult texts they may come across in future studies.
While recognized classics are often more difficult to understand, they are more enriching. The culture and ideals of the time period are preserved for students to study. Also, they often demonstrate complexity, allowing readers to develop a nuanced understanding about a topic.
Ideally, novels studied in the classroom will be interesting as well as illuminating, but that is not always the case. Ultimately, teenagers should not be deterred from reading what they would like, but they should remember to think critically about the text while doing so for the maximum benefit.