Many teenagers will go through a few years where they just don’t enjoy reading as much as they used to. If that’s something you’re experiencing right now, know that you’re very far from alone; this is totally normal for teenagers. I absolutely love books now and chose to do part of my degree in Comparative Literature. I honestly didn’t read that much as a teenager though – I had other things to do! Don’t let the teenage reading slump worry you too much, but also don’t allow books to become a distant memory. There are things you can do to encourage reading:
Let them read what they love
Don’t pressure teenagers to read ‘classics’ or the books that you think they should be reading. Reading isn’t a competitive sport. Trying to get children to engage with Dickens or Austen or Shakespeare before they’re ready can put them off for life. Allow them space to read what they genuinely enjoy. If that seems a little frivolous to you then don’t worry – most people’s taste changes over time, but developing the habit of reading is what really matters. Learning to sit and be still with your thoughts, to enter other worlds, to empathise with characters… this will happen best when you’re utterly gripped by something you love.
Encourage reading blogs or magazines
Teenagers are busy people and reading a whole novel can seem too daunting or too much of a waste of time at that age. There’s much value in other kinds of reading though. Books of short stories can be a good start, especially funny ones, or magazines. Magazines often contain really interesting interviews or feature pieces and a good quality magazine will still help improve vocabulary and other skills.
There are lots of ways to fuel the imagination
One of the most important reasons to read widely is to fuel your imagination and creative abilities. Reading is by no means the only other way to do that though. Lots of teenagers enjoy gaming, which is another medium whereby you enter another world and meet new characters. There’s also lots of communication through those kinds of sites – not to mention the teamwork involved. Reading is undoubtedly very important, but other skills are being learnt in new ways through the teenage years.
Don’t put too much pressure on them
No one really enjoys being told what to do, but teenagers take it to a whole new level. Putting too much pressure on them to read may just result in them refusing to all together. Sometimes, it’s easier to be a little sneaky and encourage them to watch good films or buy their favourite magazine and allow them to find what they enjoy.
Lead by example
Children can smell hypocrisy a mile off. If you don’t read – why should they? It’s so important to foster a love of reading from an early age – by you leading by example! Story time should be something to look forward to. Don’t get me wrong, the teenage reading slump happens in the most literary of families, but a love of reading will often resurface later. If you fill your home with books, read widely yourself and talk about books then that will rub off sooner or later.