How to Get Teens to Read

By Huntington Learning Center

  • Choose to read yourself. It can be hard to get older students off their smartphones, where the lure of instant access to games, social media and the internet is ever-present. If you’re always scrolling through your phone, however, it’s going to be hard to convince your teen that they should not. Set the phone down, pick up something to read and let your child see you doing so.
  • Have your teen read to younger siblings. The benefits of reading aloud are well documented, both for the reader and the person listening. If your teen has younger brothers and/or sisters who are learning to read, ask them to do the out-loud reading sometimes.
  • Encourage your teen to join or start a book club. Often times in school, students in the same class read a book as part of required reading. Your teen can make it fun by gathering friends to discuss the book’s themes and character arcs. As a group, they could schedule times to get together and eventually, they could choose books and genres that interest them even more.
  • Visit the library and the bookstore. Make regular library visits and have your teen check out events and clubs that the library has going on. Visit the book store. Talk about new releases that interest you and books that you’ve treasured, and reserve them for checkout at the library or purchase them at the book store. Give your teen books as gifts.
  • Try different genres and styles. Any reading is good reading. If your older student doesn’t gravitate toward nonfiction, how about fiction? If novels aren’t capturing their interest, suggest comic books or graphic novels. Get the guidance of a librarian or bookstore employee, who are skilled at nurturing readers of all ages with good book choices.
  • Pick a family book to read. This works well at any age, but reading a book with your teen could give you something to talk about and bond over—and why not make those chats into something fun like a coffee outing, a walk or a hike? Another idea is to read a book, then watch the movie together and discuss the differences.
  • Correct any problems. If reading is overly challenging for your teen, chances are they will not choose to do it during any free time. When reading becomes easier, your other efforts to promote it will be more successful.
  • Don’t force it. Be encouraging, but don’t panic if your teen isn’t a voracious reader. Many teens are busy, focusing on school, extracurricular activities and their social lives. Reading might temporarily take a backseat, but if you show your teen through your actions that reading has so much to offer, they might come back around later on.

With so many other options competing for their time, many teens don’t continue reading on their own. However, reading is integral to learning and will always be important while your teen is a student—plus, it is an activity that can bring your teen happiness for the rest of their life. Be persistent and patient with your support, which will make a difference in getting your teen to choose reading as an enjoyable pastime.