Encouraging Your Teen Back into Reading

Nov 20, 2019 by

There seems to be a gap, a gap between about the ages of 11 and 18 where children who were once bookworms, forever found under duvets, torch in hand, unable to put down their latest book, now show very little interest in the written word.

And unless you plan on a complete ban on smartphones, tablets, computers and TV in your home then it’s almost inevitable that your once former book addict will go through a phrase of not wanting to pick up a book at all, preferring instead to lose themselves in the world of social media.

But has that love of books disappeared forever? Studies show that, thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the case but that it all does start with a love of reading as a younger child and parents who role model similar behaviour.

How can you encourage your teen to stick with reading or return to it if it’s been a while since they picked up a book? Let’s find out in this blog

.Accept Their Choice of Material

You might have been reading the classics at their age but if your teen is far more interested in magazines then let that pass without criticism. The fact that are picking up the printed word at all is far more important than the type of books they read at this moment.

It might be that have a special interest in a sport or hobby, video games or football for example. If that’s the case, encourage them to read around that interest. Do a little research and find some books that take a closer look and suggest to your teen that you buy that for a present. 


This encouragement will go a long way in encouraging them to keep up their reading of print and not just relying on the internet or social media to give them the headlines and scaled down snippets.

Still Role Model

When your teen sees you forever on your phone or in front of the TV, of course they’re going to subconsciously digest that behaviour as normal for adults. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with checking your emails and catching up with your favourite boxset, if that’s all they see then you’re sending out a clear signal about your own attitude towards reading.

Don’t feel you need to read just for the sake of it. Like your teen, find something you enjoy reading – a magazine, autobiography or favourite that’s been read and re-read many times before.

Your child may not show it but they still look to you for guidance and will mimic your behaviour as a role model.

Image courtesy of Pixabay: CC0 licence

Embrace Technology

As much as buying a new book to you is a treat and nothing beats that smell of new print, your teen might not share that same feeling. With so much on their screen already why not embrace tech and gift them a Kindle for a birthday or Christmas present. While we know that there are Kindle apps that you can download to a phone, the temptation to hop onto social media can be too much, so a Kindle is a great compromise for your screen loving child.

Another option you might consider, especially for your younger child is that of audio books. Great on long car journeys, great for when they have MP3 players of their own and can download books of their own choice.

You never know, this might be the time that you decide to give a Kindle a try and realise there’s space for real and electronic books, all at the same time.

Link it Interests

If you know your child is interested in a career as a vet, then find some reading material on her reading level that she can engage with. If you know she’s interested in joining the Air Corp then some facts on US aviation degrees for your older teen or some exciting real life stories for your younger child might just be the spark that propels them forward to an exciting career.

Not all reading has to be fiction, that very practical book might be a book they go back to time and again for advice and guidance.

In the same way many popular books, especially around the tween market, carefully cultivate a strong online presence. You might find a linked website with quizzes and facts that your young reader might enjoy exploring with you.

Don’t be afraid to engage with social media. It shows your child that reading can be fun and can take place outside the pages of the book, engaging with characters, exploring themes and helping them feel like they’re a part of something much bigger than them.

Give Them Space

In today’s hyper linked, super busy world even carving out space to find some time to read is hard work. There’s homework, chores and work to be done and everyone needs a little time just to sit down and do nothing once in a while.

Allowing your child unlimited access to their screens is often the easy way to keep them entertained and it’s hard to say no to a child who’s whining about it on repeat. But do them a favour and limit that time on phones and tablets. At the very least ban phones at bedtime, giving their brain time to unwind and relax a little. It’s this quiet time after the homework’s been done, showers have been taken and bed calls that is the perfect time for your teen to get some reading done. If they’re in that habit already, make sure to guard it by not imposing extra chores or responsibilities on them. 

If your child has slowed down their reading or stopped altogether, don’t despair. With some gentle encouragement and a clever choice of reading material, they’ll soon come back to something they once loved. Be the reader you want them to be and be on hand to gently encourage them to put down the phone and pick up a book.

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