Sunday, June 7, 2009

How to Get a Teen to Love Reading

My mother has always made it one of her top priorities to raise her children into avid readers. Throughout my childhood, she used every trick she could come up with to get us to read, from presents to television limitations and even paying us on occasion. It worked throughout my childhood, but was cut short when I reached my angsty, awkward early teen years. In my own strange way of rebelling, I rejected reading for the most part, barely even getting through what was required of me in school. So what, you may ask, turned me back into the regular reader I am today? Well, I decided to compile a few pieces of advice for a parent looking to turn their child into a book-lover. Getting rid of the television is a direct route, but this may only get your kid to hate you, so I don't recommend it. Hope these tips help.

How to Get a Teen to Love Reading
Tip #1: Buy Them Books They Want to Read
Obviously, not all adults enjoy reading the same thing. Teens and children are the same way. Your kid may love mysteries, or science fiction, books about vampires, or juicy teen novels. It's important to realize that they may not enjoy the same types of books that you do, also. Part of why I rejected reading in junior high was that my mom always brought home historical fiction novels for me. I found these terribly boring, so I assumed I would feel the same way about all books. I know it can be hard for a parent to decide which books have appropriate content for their child's age, so please ask any book store employee which material is best suited for certain age groups. Also, don't be afraid to buy them books below their reading level. They'll get challenged in school, and eventually they will want to read more advanced books, but reading can be more fun if it's not always a struggle.

Tip #2: Talk With Them About School Reading
In class, discussions are usually limited to the mechanics of the novel. How one feels about the required reading is usually never brought up, which can be very frustrating. Start by asking them what they're reading and whether or not they like it and build from there. Ask what about the book they enjoyed and what bothers them about it. This is a great conversation starter and can get your child to start separating reading from school, which is not always a positive correlation. 

Tip #3: Don't Make Reading a Chore
If a child is forced to read every night, they may start resenting it. With some kids, this strategy may work, but most won't understand your motives. Instead, limit television watching until certain hours, especially during the summer. When I was in elementary school, my mother made my siblings and I read an hour for every hour of television we wanted to watch. This may not work for all kids, and at the time I hated it. Looking back, though, I'm glad she did.

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