October is TeenTober. According to the American Library Association’s website, this celebration ‘aims to celebrate teens, promote year-round teen services and the innovative ways teen services helps teens learn new skills, and fuel their passions in and outside the library. ‘ and ‘replaces YALSA’s previous Teen Read Week™ and Teen Tech Week™ celebrations, allowing libraries the flexibility to celebrate all types of literacies’. I love that we have this resource here in the States to encourage our teens, but we need to do our part too. So here are some tips to motivate your teen to read.
I know a few different types of teens (well, this applies to everyone). Those who dread reading of any kind, those who will read for assignments the like happily enough but draw the line at reading otherwise, and thankfully, those who love and enjoy reading. I am glad my teens enjoy reading, one more than the other, but you can catch both of them with their nose in a book often enough. So what can we do to motivate a teen to read? Here are some of the things I think have helped me.
(Update: You can use these tips to apply to any age-group, any reluctant reader – with some minor changes, of course.)
My Tips To Motivate Your Teen to Read
Be a Role Model
Let them see you with a book – be it for learning, work, or for the pure pleasure of it. And let them see you reap the benefits of every kind of reading. Share what you learned or what you loved about the books you read.
Read With Them
Maybe it could be a family book-club kind of thing. Pick a book – look for popular teen and YA reads – and read it along with them; maybe each of you read the same book by yourself or even together – enact out parts as you read aloud whatever works best. And share your opinions with each other
Read to Them
You are never too old to be read to – so read to them, or better still, have them read to you. I know I enjoy it myself; so read to each other – maybe an essay or a poem or a joke.
My daughter and I spent some part of the summer reading ‘Little Women‘ to/with each other. She was Amy and Beth and Laurie, I was Marmie, and Jo and Meg, and we shared other parts and characters based on our mood.
Provide Access, Time, and Space for Reading
Ensure there is always enough reading material lying around – be it books, comics, magazines, newspapers. The more access they have to something, the more open they will be to it and the more easily get into the (reading) habit. Maybe you can order a book club subscription and that thrill of unboxing will add to the joy of reading.
Just like with schoolwork, set aside time and space (create a reading nook that is all theirs – it can just be a favorite sofa) for them to read. Bedtimes, weekends, vacations – all work. And with audiobooks, even long road trips work as time and space for reading! For example, I love(d) listening to Neil Gaiman reading his book ‘View from the Cheap Seats’ and it was on repeat in the car until the kids launched a mutiny
Waiting in line somewhere together? Get that book out of your handbag or read an ebook on the phone.
Let Them Read Anything…
…in fact, encourage them to. Sometimes the books we enjoy or enjoyed as kids will not work for them, at least not as the hook to lure them in. So let the hook be different, even if it does not work for you. Once they are reading, you can encourage them to expand their horizons – you can then suggest that book you have been dying to get them to read!
Whether it is graphic novels or that teen-chick-flick type book or a book not marked as their level of reading(maybe for older or even younger age-groups), if it sparks their interest, let them read it.
Let Them Read in Any Form
You might enjoy that smell of the printed word and relish the joy of holding the book, turning its pages while reading. But if they want to read on their phones (the only con: you need to ensure that they are reading!) or device, well, they should. If a pair of headphones is what they prefer to enjoy their books, then audiobooks it is for them. While I enjoy the physical book, I totally love the convenience of reading my ebooks, wherever, whenever.
Connect reading to their passions and interests. For example, if they love basketball, then maybe Kwame Alexander’s Crossover series might be the hook you need. And if it is a good series, once they read the first one, they will want to read the next; and soon they are reading more. (Remember how Harry Potter got a whole generation reading)
It is OK to Have Opinions
Show that it is OK to be passionate about what you read – to love or hate characters, to have DNF books, to have your own opinions about books (love books that others hated or vice versa)
Do not criticize them for those differing opinions. Healthy debates are always fine, but criticism might discourage the reading habit. If they don’t like a book and choose not to finish that one, it is OK; all the more time to read the books they will enjoy!
It is Wonderful to Share Opinions
Encourage them to share those opinions – with family, friends, or on review sites, their own or other’s blogs or other social media if they want.. that might encourage them to read more.. you never know.
My kids’ have been guests on my blog with book reviews a couple of times and I have loved that (not so sure yet about them, but I think they enjoy it too secretly)
Visit Places With Books
Make libraries and bookstores regular family haunts. Return with more books than you can read. It is OK. Used bookstores are such wonderful places and they might realize that finding books there is like finding treasure at the end of a treasure hunt.
Add a Fun Element
Make it a a movie (or TV show) night. Watch movies or shows based on books, but make sure to ensure the book is read first! Compare and contrast; make a game of it – the book or the movie? Why?
A reading challenge can be fun too. There are so many ideas out there so fine one that piques their interest and let them challenge themselves, all for the fun of it. For example, libraries and bookstores always have reading challenges, especially over the summer and with incentives to read. Or you can have them check out this list of reading challenges at GirlXOXO
Or pick any one of the many literary celebrations and celebrate it. Why just literary? You could check out the NationalDayCalendar and connect a book to some fun day/week/month celebration and read it. For example, supposedly, the last Friday in October is National Frankenstein Friday. The perfect excuse/reason to pick up Mary Shelley’s classic! (and did you know it – the book – was 200 years old last year?)
Encourage Them to Write
Reading and writing are closely connected; one habit leads to the other. Maybe you can write with them – a limerick, a short story, in a journal. Read those aloud to each other (see earlier tip).
Show That Reading, Readers, Books are Everywhere
Point out examples of role models who love reading – celebrities they love, social media stars they follow. Many recommend books via social media or on their websites; and many of them have book clubs too. Make your teens aware of that so they can check it out for themselves. For eg, Bill Gates, Emma Watson, and Barack Obama among many others).
Point out bookish points of interest in your locality or during travels. Or mention it to them and have them discover those spots during a walk in your town or while on vacation.
Look and you can find books (or things bookish) everywhere, be it …
And the End of This Post
So hope you find these ‘tips to motivate your teens to read’ useful (or for younger kids or the other non-readers you know!)
Dear Reader: What are some of the tactics you have used to motivate others around you to read? Do share!