My children have never shown the same love of reading that I remember having at their age and in some ways that makes me a little bit sad. To me, reading is an escape and I love nothing more than curling up in bed on a night and reading a good romance novel (Don’t judge me ;-)).
Personally, I feel like any chance that they were going to love reading was ruined by over enthusiastic teachers who set them challenges to read a set number of pages every night and a certain number of books a week. Master Frugal once got in to trouble as he was taking too long to read a book and from then on, reading was more of a tick box exercise.
For that reason, I’ve never enforced the school’s rules about reading and I’ve had many a discussion with the school about the boring books they’ve given them to read and the targets they’ve set them for how much they have to read. We agreed to disagree (in a nice way) when both kids consistently showed a higher than average reading age and since then, they’ve read in school when they were told to and at home when they wanted to.
The fact that I don’t make them sit down and read doesn’t mean that I don’t encourage them though, I’d love for something to just click with them and for them to start getting the same enjoyment from reading that I always have.
Here’s my top tips for encouraging your teen (or indeed tween) to read….
Don’t force it.
The older kids get, the more they’ll rebel against things that they’re forced to do. If I sat Miss Frugal down with a book and told her to read it she would more than likely just stare at the pages without reading them on principal (no idea where she gets that stubborn streak from).
Don’t worry about what they’re reading.
As long as whatever they’re reading is age appropriate then t doesn’t matter if they’re reading a literary classic, a teen magazine, a football program or a recipe book at this stage. Reading is reading.
Find books that will spark their interest.
Master Frugal loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Tom Gates books and although they’re far from the books I’d like him to read, I still encourage him to read them because again, reading is reading. Miss Frugal isn’t keen on story books but if I buy her a magazine or she finds a book by one of her favourite YouTubers then she’s all over it.
If technology helps, use it!
If reading on a Kindle or downloading a reading app on to your teen’s tablet or phone will encourage them to read then go for it. Miss Frugal likes to use my Kindle to read every now and again so she has books on there to read when she fancies it.
Set an example.
As with lots of things in life, children learn from their parents example so it follows that the more they see you reading at home, the more likely they are to want to read themselves.
Make books readily available
The library is an awesome place but for reluctant readers you might find it better to have books available at home. We have a bookshelf on our upstairs landing that I fill with books that I get from the charity shops.
Blogs and Social Media are good to get teens reading too
Just as you’re reading this blog, your children might enjoy a blog written for their age group about a subject they’re interested in. I introduced Miss Frugal to Pinterest a while ago and she loves looking through and finding things that interest her. She regularly clicks through to read blog posts about things she’s interested in.
Don’t be afraid to resort to bribery
I won’t force my two to read but I’m not averse to a little bribery to encourage them. 😉 I’m quite relaxed about bedtimes as a general rule but I often tell the kids it’s lights out time about 20 minutes before it really is. When they inevitably ask if they can stay up later I tell them that they can but only if they’re in bed reading – an offer they usually take me up on.
Make it fun
Even teenagers like to craft every now and again so get them to make their own fun bookmarks. I spread the contents of our craft box (yes, we still have one) on the dining room table and when the kids wandered in they couldn’t help but sit down and start tinkering. I suggested they make a bookmark each so they did (it’s not often they think my suggestions are good ;-)) and ended up with a cute bookmark each which I’m not allowed to show you as they’re not blog-worthy according to the kids but they do look good and they’re being used which is the important thing. They both went for emoji style bookmarks like these by Maggy over at Red Ted Art. I’ll try and snap a pic later when they’re not looking….
I’ll keep plugging away and look forward to the day that one day, they pick up an actual book for no other reason other than they want to have a read.
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