How to Get Your Teenagers to Become Lifelong Readers

From the April 2015 issue of The Beltsville News

hollow cityIn today’s age of technology, it’s easy for teens to reject books in favor of gadgets. As these emerging technologies become increasingly important in society, parents should reinforce the educational and entertainment benefits of reading. Here are a few tips for encouraging your children to love the written word.

Treat Reading Like a Privilege

If your kids believe that reading is a chore, they’ll stop as soon as your influence over them begins to wane or they are no longer required to read for school. Instead, show them that reading is a source of fun.

In order to do this, position reading as a “reward.” When they get good grades, take them to the bookstore. When they finish their homework in the evening, give teens “reading privileges,” as you may be inclined to do with electronic sources of media.

Offer Compelling Literature

One of the most important things you can do is make sure that your kids have positive early experiences with books. This will shape their opinions of reading for the rest of their lives. Beyond school assignments, be sure your teens are reading compelling literature for fun.

The best way to do this is to give them books that you know they’ll enjoy — that way, they’ll always be either reading or anticipating their next read. Serial literature can be a great way to accomplish the goal of keeping kids interested.

One great example is “Hollow City,” the second novel in the “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children“ series, a unique combination of fantasy and haunting vintage photography. And since that first book is in the process of being adapted into a movie, kids awaiting its release can read “Hollow City” in the meantime.

Model Good Reading Behavior

Let your kids see you reading. If they know that you like to read, then they’ll imitate your behavior. Teens may not always act like it, but they do look up to you.

Don’t replace reading with interacting with your teens; instead, read at a time when they are already engaging in independent activities.

Start your own little household book club. During dinner or another portion of the day spent together, discuss what you both are reading and what you like about the books. Make recommendations and swap great books.

So when your kids are staring at their screens, remember that this generation can find just as much joy in books as you did when you were younger. All you need to do is give the extra push.

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