Teenage Learning: 7 Ways to Encourage Teens to Read

Teenagers of today say, “Who has time to read?” There are so many entertainment options available nowadays, and they compete with good old-fashioned book-reading. As a parent, you need to find ways to encourage teens to read.

It’s true that reading as a source of entertainment is not high on your teenager’s list. (Why would they, when they have the internet and their smartphones?) But if you’ve heard that adage that goes, “Use it or lose it,” then you know that it must apply to your teens.

In order to be good readers who are prepared for the future, teens must read often and widely.

7 Ways to Encourage Teens to Read

In recent years, studies have found that less than 20% of teenagers in the U.S. report that they read books, magazines, or newspapers for daily pleasure. On the other hand, 80% do say that they use social media every day.

The internet and the use of social media is all well and good, and it’s not without a couple of benefits in and of itself, but junior and senior high school students who adamantly refuse to pick up educational reading materials might face setbacks later on in life.

Aside from enrolling them into effective reading programs like the Dicker Reading Method, what else can you, as a parent, do? What are some ways to encourage teens to read?

#1 Give your teens a choice

The best way to encourage a teenager to read is to allow reading to be engaging. Whether that’s a romance novel, a comic book, or visual novels with zombies and werewolves. Yes, as a parent, you might not like it, but those are the books they’re drawn to.

Do not discourage their preferences. Reading is reading. Be mindful of their reading choices to avoid anything inappropriate, but try to limit the censorship as much as possible. Opt for proper parental guidance instead.

#2 Be a role model of reading

One of the ways to encourage teens to read is to create a culture of reading inside the home. The more your teens see that you’re reading, the more likely they are to follow-suit.

It works on young kids, and the technique isn’t all that different even when they enter high school. If you think children are stubborn, teenagers are even more resistant to messages that imply, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

#3 Don’t criticize their reading tastes

Do you have a teen who’s a reluctant reader (or a frustrated learner)? If that’s the case, you need to prevent them from shutting down about reading all together. That means keeping negative opinions about what the teens read to yourself.

If you don’t favor the werewolf stories she likes, or don’t quite approve of your son’s love of sci-fi books, don’t voice harsh criticism to that. Be tolerant and continue encouraging their reading habits, no matter what form it takes.

#4 Talk about what they’re reading

In meaningful ways, talk about what your teens read. Ask questions and encourage a healthy debate. Cultivate an environment of critical thinking and deep discussion. Talk to them frequently about what they’re reading, because it can help in more ways than one.

#5 Look for compelling book series

Readers who are hooked on the first book in a series can follow the same characters or themes through more than one book. Some teens may have learning and thinking differences, but starting new books can be daunting.

However, the familiarity of a series can make book reading easier to understand. Look for the right characters or themes, and even a reluctant reader would be eager to pick up the next book in the series.

#6 Connect reading with the teen’s passions

When high school rolls around, a struggling reader may have already lost their motivation to work on their reading skills. But there are things you can do. You can encourage them to stay engaged by searching for ways to connect reading to subjects that are relevant to teens. 

#7 Tie reading and social media together

There’s really no way to separate social media from teenagers. If your kids love texting friends and posting on social media, you can give your teens mini-assignments to use their interests in social media. Encourage them to start following blogs, or reading interesting posts aloud on occasion.

Be Realistic About Expectations

When it comes to finding ways to encourage teens to read, you must make explicit and realistic connections between your kids’ reading ability and their future options in life. Have open and honest discussions about the ways reading is important for success. And of course, be mindful to discuss. Not preach.

Stay connected and communicate frequently.


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