Motivating Reluctant Teens to Read

Teens may turn into reluctant readers. Sometimes this is because the majority of the reading they do is for school and, therefore, work. Another cause may be that they are struggling with reading at the level of their peers. Often this leads them to take a defensive position and they declare reading is stupid, no fun, or boring.

Parents can help by encouraging independent reading. Independent reading is motivating because it is about choosing subject matter of interest to the reader, in this case, the teen. This is the reading we all do for our own enjoyment and entertainment. Instead of pressing for reading at a particular grade-level, let this reading be at whatever level the teen feels comfortable. The point here is to reinforce success and create a feeling of confidence. The teen will naturally seek more difficult material as he or she grows more comfortable and confident. Here are some ideas on how to keep a teen motivated to read.

Schedule a weekly trip to the library. Obtain library cards for each teen. Let them choose any material they would like to look at for the next week. Be open to CD’s, DVD’s, tapes, magazines, or books. When there is no pressure to pick a particular type of material, teens feel able to pick something of interest and at a level they are willing to tackle for enjoyment. Remember you want to develop a lifelong reader.

Encourage your teen to join a book club. Many libraries and some schools have book clubs specifically for teens. Teens enjoy interacting with other teens and they get to share books of interest to them.

Get a driver’s manual. Most teens are looking forward to being able to drive. Get a driver’s manual and have them study to take their driver’s test. If they are having trouble reading the manual, help them through it.

Weekly cooking. Work with your teen to set one night a week as their night to prepare dinner. Let them choose the menu, find recipes, check to see all ingredients are on hand and if not, add them to the weekly shopping list. When they first start, you may need to provide a helping hand. As they become more experienced cooks, you will need to provide less assistance. Not only does cooking improve reading and math skills, it is a vital life skill.

Pen pals. If your teen has a favorite relative, see if the relative would be willing to exchange letters or e-mails with your teen. In addition to reading, the sense of connection to others is helpful during a time when teens search for answers about themselves and their identity.

Develop a personal library. Encourage your teen to develop a library of favorite books. In addition to purchasing new books, they can add books to their collection through yard sale purchases, used bookstores, and library sales.

Gift your teen with a magazine subscription. Choose a magazine which covers a topic your teen is interested in – cars, wildlife, movies, or anime. Another closely related approach is to let them sign up for an e-mail newsletter or ezine.

These ideas can help your teen become a motivated reader and a reader for life, by encouraging them to see reading as a way to enjoy and learn more about the world around them.


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