Reading regularly ensures teenagers start to develop familiarity with how English is written and how writers use language to convey messages. They learn how words are spelt and increase their vocabulary and comprehension: essential skills for GCSE English Language and beyond.
Now, with that said, you may be thinking, that’s obvious! Of course my child needs to read more. But that’s not the problem, is it? It’s how to actually get them to pick that book up and start reading. Reading regularly in the age of mobile phones, social media and X-box, seems to be one of the greatest challenges.
Many will view reading as a chore. Admittedly, reading reluctantly is better than not reading at all. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll be focusing on how language is being presented to them in the text and learning new words, simply because their main focus is to get it over with!
If your child is resistant to the idea of reading, it’s crucial to help them develop an interest. Here are some top tips for you to try.
Top 10 tips to get your teen to read
Grab their attention
Help them find a book that will interest them. Check out bestseller books for teens either online or at your local bookshop. Books for teens will be most relevant to their lives and may help them unravel some of their own issues or simply entertain them.
Understand the value of reading
Once children learn to read, they don’t necessarily think they have to continue once they have acquired the skill; show them that it’s important to continue reading and to adopt it as a hobby rather seeing it as work. Help them see the value of reading now and for their future.
Make sure books are easily accessible
Make it as easy as possible for your teen to access a range of books that may interest them, and also some that will challenge them such as older texts. Have books around the house, encourage them to take a few books out of the school library to give them a try, buy a few books from the bestseller lists online or at your local bookshop. Other ways include going to your local library, you can also get e-books from libraries.
Reading on a Kindle is another way to make books easily accessible. They can access their Kindle books from a range of devices including tablets and mobiles. In fact, many of the Classics are available free of charge from Amazon, ready to download to a Kindle.
Set aside time to read and develop a reading habit
Help your teenager work out the best time for their reading so they can develop a regular habit. Some find reading before bed is the best time, others choose to read as soon as they’ve arrived home after school. If they get into a regular routine with their reading, they’ll develop a reading habit. You could also associate their reading time with another activity, for instance, half an hour before dinner could be their regular reading time.
A good guideline is about 30 minutes a day. Or you could aim for a couple of chapters a week and break it down that way. Ideally, you want to get your child reading one and a half to two books a month.
Be a role model
Read books yourself and share how you’ve benefited from reading the book. Perhaps it was a really interesting or entertaining story or maybe you learned or discovered something new. Inspire them by being that example in their lives of someone who enjoys and gets a lot of benefit from reading.
Talk about reading
Engage with your child about what they’ve read and how they found their book. Some teens won’t be interested in sharing what they’ve read but for others, it can help to motivate them. You can also introduce them to adult books that you’ve read so you can talk about the same texts and give your opinions. Another option is for them to join a book club, often organised at their school.
Ensure they are challenging themselves
This may be tricky for reluctant readers and some teens may only want to read books that are aimed at teens or even children’s books. However, by the time they start Year 9 and then certainly for GCSE English Language and Literature they’ll be expected to understand texts by Dickens, Austen and even Shakespeare. If they haven’t been familiarising themselves with older, more advanced texts, this will seem an impossible challenge.
Their school will have a reading list of suggested books for their level. Try to help them explore what they might like to read. I would recommend that 50% of the books they read come from the recommended reading list.
Make the most of films
If they’ve read an older text such as A Christmas Carol, then watch the film as well. This will give them a better understanding of the story. Watching modern versions of Shakespeare plays can also help them get an idea of how the language in the play was intended and also the overall development of the plot, theme and characters.
Audiobooks can be a great way to create interest and curiosity for a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts. Although audiobooks can be beneficial, it’s important not to neglect reading by replacing traditional books with audiobooks. Students need to develop their ability to read and see how words are written and spelt.
Keep a reading log
Keep a reading log of which books were read each year to give your child a sense of accomplishment as they see the list grow. It’s also a great way to keep track of what they’ve read and what kinds of books they may need to read more of later on as they approach their GCSEs.
If you feel this to be an impossible task and find that you are constantly nagging your child with little results to show for it, you could always see if a friend or older sibling could help or else hire a tutor.
Try out these top ten tips and comment below and share if you’ve found this article useful. Also if you have any suggestions that could help others, do let me know.