The Resurgence of Literature in Ludlow High School


Mia Bradway, Guest Writer

2020 was a devastating time for the world. We were all left stuck to our own devices. Over the course of the pandemic, I found myself exploring a plethora of different hobbies: hiking, baking, painting, and more. However, only one of these odd hobbies that I adopted had stuck: reading. I would find myself getting lost in other worlds. Having an escape from the crumbling world around me really guided me through the rough times. 

For some reason, I convinced myself that my new hobby was some secret that only I knew about, so you can sense my surprise when, during the first week of junior year, I see one of my favorite books in the hands of another teenage girl. Shock had overtaken me as I realized there were others who enjoyed the same books as I did so close around me. I began to talk to some friends and realized they too had also picked up my new hobby. 

The Revival

Many teenagers adopted this love of reading over quarantine. I asked Kylie Gauvin, a close friend of mine and student here at Ludlow High School, about what got her into reading and when she started to which she told me that “Growing up I always enjoyed reading, but when middle school came around I began to stop reading. When quarantine hit I started to pick back up reading and it was a good escape and a different way to spend all the free time I had during that time out of school and sports.” Quarantine really impacted this generation specifically, and one of its main changes was forcing teenagers to explore new hobbies (or revisit old ones). Reading gave teenagers a way to cope with the changes in the world around them. “I feel like I know the characters and the plot of the book seem so real, it is a distraction and escapes from the stress and life,” said Gauvin. 

Sometimes, learning about other people’s problems (real or fictional) can help you forget about your own for a little while. For many teenagers, this hobby they thought would just be fun to try over quarantine turned into a “casual habit,” as Gauvin said about herself. 

We were all introduced to reading in our adolescence, however, the older we get the less and less we read. Reading begins to feel like a chore, rather than a hobby, when it is assigned for schoolwork. Students detest reading because of its “homework” like feel. The time quarantine gave students helped some rediscover their love for the hobby. Now, instead of reading being associated with school and a “must,” it is seen as a part of people’s everyday life.  

Social Media’s Impact

Teenagers are almost known for being stuck in their phones these days, however, more and more teenagers all over the world are reading. Social media has had a huge helping hand in this resurgence. The influential success of TikTok was the main driving factor in this revival of literature. ‘BookTok’ became a viral hashtag where people would post videos of them reviewing, recommending, and even edits of books. The impact these videos had on non-readers was exhilarating because it made kids who deemed reading “homework” want to read, simply for their own enjoyment. 

I asked Jessica Trajkovski, another close friend of mine and eleventh grade student at LHS, on her thoughts about ‘BookTok’ and its impact on her, and she said that she is  “very consumed by ‘BookTok’ and it definitely plays a part in what I read and consumes most of my TikTok.” These videos posted under this hashtag changed the way teens viewed reading. Trajkovski happens to also be an active member of the ‘BookTok’ community—“It definitely played a big part in the past year of my life, not only making a ‘BookTok’ account, but just being a part of the community really changed the past year of my life.”

It not only helped teenagers want to read, but many of these videos promoting books helped the authors thrive as well. The promotions of books on TikTok helped authors sell more because these videos were the best form of advertisement. “It promotes books and everyone wants to know what the hype is. The comment section is filled with people who want to read the book so they could be a part of the discussion,” said Ella Roy, an eleventh grade student at LHS. 

One specific author I am a fan of, Colleen Hoover, has received lots of praise on her books due to their recognition on TikTok. Colleen Hoover is a big name fiction author due to her success in promoting her books on social media. The reason social media is so successful in promoting reading is because of the people advertising them. The posts have a certain way of pulling in a specific audience, in this case, teenagers. 

Teachers Recognize the Comeback

Teachers at LHS have also realized the uptick in their students’ reading. “I love to see more students with books and even discussing the stories in classes and in the halls,” said Mrs. Ollquist, the head of the English department here at LHS. Ollquist discovered her love for reading at a young age, ultimately deciding to major in English in college—making a career out of her beloved hobby. 

Ollquist loves to talk about books with her students; it makes her feel connected to them when they can share experiences of their love of reading. She claims that she can also see an improvement on writing assignments of her students that read over those who do not. 

The Romance Genre Debacle 

Around Ludlow High School, I’ve recognized girls reading mainly romance novels. Romance, personally, is my favorite genre, but many don’t take the genre seriously. People will claim that it’s not real reading because of its “lack of substance.” However, romance novels discuss real problems (ie: mental health, abuse, and more), which readers can learn from/about those characters’ experiences. Plus, the added bonus of a happily ever after makes everything sweeter. 

“I once had a ‘friend’ insult the types of books I read because they weren’t literary. I disagree and think that everyone should find books they like and embrace the stories. The same person that can read Dickens or Shakespeare may like to take a break with a romance novel or nonfiction. No one should ever judge what someone else reads.” said Ollquist. 

So, if something “good” came out of the pandemic, it was a renewed interest in reading. Sometimes it takes an event that forces one to sit home and isolate themselves from others, to actually pick up a book.