How to support
your child with READING
10 Ways to Encourage Your Teenager to read!
If your teenager struggles with reading, getting them to sit down and actually do it can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be a battle. Use these strategies to encourage them to read more.
1. Keep things ‘real’.
Make explicit connections between your child’s ability to read and their future options in life. If they’re thinking about university, college or career path, have open, honest discussions about the ways reading might be necessary for their success. Find role models who struggled with dyslexia, but persevered and came out on top. Just be careful to discuss, not ‘preach’. Encourage your child to brainstorm with you and to generate some of the ideas you discuss.
2. Let your teenager choose.
The best way to encourage your child to read is to allow her to read whatever she finds engaging, whether it’s comic books, cookbooks or romance novels about vampires or zombies. The books she’s drawn to might not be your favourites, but don’t discourage her preferences. Reading is reading. Avoid any urge to censor her choices.
3. Look for books at her reading level.
If your child finds reading a challenge at secondary school, it can be challenging to find high-interest books at their reading level. Look for books that specifically target reluctant teen readers such as those offered through Story Shares and Saddleback Educational Publishing. It’s also a good idea to let your child use assistive technology that makes reading easier, such as audiobooks. Getting practice with an accessible text is better than giving up on a traditional book that is geared for more advanced readers.
4. Model reading for them.
The best way to create a culture of reading in your home is to read as much as possible. The more your child sees you reading, the more likely she is to follow suit. This doesn’t change once your child enters secondary school. Teaching staff at Smestow have signs on classroom doors telling students what they are currently reading.
5. Discuss what she reads.
Talk in meaningful ways about what your child reads. Ask questions and encourage debate. Create an environment of deep discussion and critical thinking. Talking frequently about what they’re reading can help in more ways than one. For example, if your child has dyslexia or ADHD, they may prefer talking about a story to reading it. Help them stay motivated by having her read short passages and then discussing them.
6. Resist the urge to criticize.
If your teen is a reluctant reader, you want to prevent them from shutting down about reading altogether. And that means keeping negative opinions about what they read to yourself. If you don’t like the vampire stories they’re into, don’t voice that criticism to her. If you think eBooks are inferior to paperbacks, don’t share that opinion while they’re reading an eBook. Be tolerant and encourage their reading, whatever form that takes.
7. Find a compelling series.
Readers who get hooked on the first book in a series can follow the same characters or themes through many more books. For teens with learning and thinking differences, starting a new book can be daunting. But the familiarity of a series can make it easier to understand the text and can reduce the negative feelings associated with starting a new reading task. Find the right characters or themes, and even reluctant readers will be eager to pick up the next book in the series.
8. Connect reading to your teen’s passion.
By secondary school, your struggling reader may have lost their motivation to work on reading skills. But you can encourage them to stay engaged by looking for ways to connect reading to subjects that are relevant to them. For example, if your teen is a reluctant reader who wants to work with animals, make it clear how important reading will be to learn more about veterinary science.
9. Tie reading to social media.
If your child likes texting friends and posting on social networks, you can give them mini-assignments that use those interests. For example, encourage them to start following a blog and to read interesting posts aloud to you occasionally. Or you could ask them to be on the lookout for interesting abbreviations people use in texts and get them to make a ‘cheat sheet’ or to quiz you on what these abbreviations stand for.
10. Encourage their interest in current events.
Highlight the ways that your teen can use reading to keep tabs on what’s happening in her world. Encourage your child to pick up a newspaper or subscribe to a magazine. For teens with learning and thinking differences, reading might seem frustrating or boring. But if your child is interested in sports, politics, celebrities, music, you name it, there will always be something she might want to read!