Over the years I have made my thoughts on required reading well-known. I personally hate that required reading is a thing. That being said I don't know how much it is pushed in schools now but when I was younger it was pushed quite a bit. Now, remember that this opinion is coming from an avid reader.
What is Required Reading?
Required reading is reading that must be done. In school, this means that there is a list of (usually) books that must be read before the end of the year. These are for the most part, from my experience, classics and older books that really the younger generations have no interest in unless they are studying literature in university or simply really enjoy reading.
Do We Need Required Reading?
While reading is extremely important and promotes literacy, I really don't believe that we need required reading. In the way that it is being done presently anyway. In my opinion, required reading should be a general thing, not a forced specific list that students must follow.
What Should Change?
As an avid reader, who started reading more in elementary school, required reading really limited my options in school so I read more at home but that is for sure not the case for everyone. My sister, for example, I don't think that she has read more than 5 books since school ended for her. She hates reading and I think that is in part to being forced to read certain books for school.
I believe that if changes were made to the required reading guidelines there would be many more readers. The main change that I think should be implemented is that while yes there should be a number of books that you have to read during the school year, the student should get full control over what those books are. That being said that wouldn't include comics, novellas, textbooks, etc. Those books could be fiction or non-fiction, and to prove that they actually read it have a summary that they must submit when the book is finished. Over the course of the year, I think that if a student reads at least 5 books they should pass that reading requirement. However, I know some students really don't know what books they like or what books they should try and I think that this is when having a list of suggestions will be really helpful. This list should live in a library not in the classroom, unless it's posted on a board and not forced down the student's throat.
Now while this covers the students that are able to sit and read a book I know that there are many students who just either don't have the time (i.e. they have to work and do schoolwork), can't (i.e. learning disabilities that make it hard for them to sit and read a book), or won't (simply refuse to read anything), there are other options that schools should look into. Having audiobooks as an option (while not my preference) would work really well for those who don't have time (listening on the way to and from school) and those who can't (learning disabilities like dyslexia would benefit from this option). The only problem would be those who won't read, those who flat-out refuse to read anything, while I know it needs to be some sort of requirement I think that if you can get those students who won't read to even read a chapter, it should be considered a pass.
Some students are just not readers and the public school system seems to forget that and force kids to be something that they really aren't. It's those kids who were forced to read as kids that hate reading as adults (generally not always). Sometimes it's those kids who go on and really excel at university and they start to love reading when they are given full control over what they read.
I am an advocate for reading and I know that reading is extremely important but it's not for everyone and required reading does more harm than good in my opinion.
I know that this opinion isn't shared by everyone but I think that if changes could be made to the school system regarding reading that it would help students find a love of reading.