Portola Student and Teacher Hatch the Love for Reading


Shaina Taebi

There has been a drastic decrease in reading for teenagers since the 2010’s. “I think a lot of times right now, the way that our brains are wired with social media and the way that we use our phones,” Misenhimer said. “We scroll just really quick and skim and just move through things really fast. It’s really hard for our brains right now and for ourselves to sit down and focus on a book for a long period of time.”

The smell of fresh ink, the warmth of raw printed paper and the cracking open of the spine of a new book: It’s a dream for any avid reader.

Getting curled up and enjoying a new book is not a novel action. For the following student and teacher, their individual perspectives are what led them to developing a lifetime hobby of reading.

Junior Hasini Peyyala’s love for reading began in elementary school by going to the library to immerse herself into literary worlds. Beyond fictional worlds, Peyyala said that she loves to read because she feels empowered from the triumphant outcomes of the characters’ stories.

“They mirror a lot of people’s journeys, and seeing other characters go into these journeys and come out better gives me hope that even if I’m in a tough place, I can always get out of it, and I can also be stronger in the end,” Peyyala said.

Similarly, librarian Melissa Misenhimer found her enjoyment for reading at a young age. According to Misenhimer, she would frequent her local public library and completed reading challenges.

“When I read, I tend to block everything out, and I become saturated in that world,” Misenhimer said. “And I think that’s what I really enjoy about it. It’s just you learn so many different things reading, and you get these different perspectives, and there’s all these different worlds and characters and things that people create, and I just find it so interesting.”

While reading itself is a joyous journey, both Misenhimer and Peyyala agree that not all pathways are alike, and readers should explore different genres to find their perfect match.

“One message I have is that you should keep an open mind, and you should be willing to read books and try and see if there are some things you might like about them, even if you don’t particularly like some characters,” Peyyala said.

However, reading does not have to be a large commitment. Spending 15 to 20 minutes a day reading in any medium is just as productive as sitting down for hours and reading a book, according to Misenhimer.

“I think the less we read, the harder it is for us to read,” Misenhimer said. “So I think the more we read and the more we see these words on paper and the more that we get involved in these fantasy worlds, I think the easier it is for us to sit down and take the time to read.”