With more and more technology becoming part of our daily lives, it's not uncommon for a parent to be exasperated watching their teenager constantly staring at a phone or video game screen. We all know the extensive benefits of reading for children and teenagers, but how can you get your teen to read more often?
Here are some ideas to help encourage the teens in your house to put down the device and pick up a book more often.
You might roll your eyes at a cheesy vampire novel, or some outer space adventure, or even a graphic novel (what used to be called a comic book), but it might just be the doorway for your teen to explore literacy. Being able to choose what they read makes a huge difference in their desire to stick with it and read more within that genre.
Every teen gets enough required reading at school. Try your best (within limits) to allow your child the freedom to discover what they like to read, even if it's not what you think is good.
Literacy educators will tell you that it's not about how or what something is read -- it's that it's read in the first place. So, whether it's a paperback, e-book, graphic novel, or even an audiobook, it's OK. (Audiobooks can make more difficult texts accessible for readers with special needs or auditory learning modalities).
What your teen is reading can also be an avenue for communication. Take an interest in what they are reading during parenting time. This is your chance to have a good conversation with your teen and can be a great opportunity to work on those valuable communication and social skills.
Ask questions. Learn about the book and why they are interested in it. Are they skimming or actually thinking about what they read? Are they able to have a good discussion with you about the material?
Being interested in your teen's literacy is also very important if you have a special needs child. For a teen with ADHD or even dyslexia, discussing their reading with a parent opens up a door for you to check and see how things are going and if there are any issues that might need to be discussed with their teachers.
You can tap into your child's interests by offering further reading. Perhaps you see a great newspaper article for your politically motivated teen. Your two-sport athlete may enjoy reading a biography of past greats in their sports. By encouraging and discussing literacy in a specific area they are interested in, you are simultaneously bonding with them and leading them to other sources of information they can read.
One of the big rules of reading is Do What I Do. In other words, it's going to be hard for you to create a culture of reading in your house if your teen never sees you do it. Again, you don't have to read something difficult. What's important is your child sees you reading on a regular basis, whether it's a newspaper, your favorite magazine, or even a paperback from the library.
Teenagers model what they see others doing. So, to create a sense in your home that literacy is important and can open doors, you need to model that behavior yourself.
There are numerous ways to get your teenager to read. Good luck and thanks for being such an important part of your child's life!
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