Due to the interest of my previous article, “4 Easy Ways to Promote Reading in Your Home,” I decided to write another article sharing additional reading tips on how to foster a love of reading in your home.
As an experienced middle school reading teacher, I have had to develop strategies and reading activities that encourage my students to pick up their own books. In this article, I want to share with you some ways to encourage reading with your pre-teens (tweens) and teenagers at home.
1. Subscribe to magazines – Whether you pay for an annual magazine subscription or make regular visits to a good magazine rack, magazines are a great way to encourage reading in your older children. Help your children select magazines that cover their interests and are appropriate for their age and reading level.
If your teen already struggles with reading, selecting magazines with too high of a reading level could ultimately frustrate your child further. On the other hand, choosing magazines appropriate for younger children could bore your teenager. There is a fine balance between age appropriate material and actual reading levels.
To get you started, here are a few of my favorites.
- Pre-teens interested in sports may enjoy a subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids. Reading Rockets suggests the magazine is appropriate for ages 6-9, but that could vary depending on your child’s individual reading level. The content could just as well interest an 11 or 12 year-old struggling reader.
- For adolescent girls, you might consider a subscription to Girls’ Life Magazine (ages 10 to 15) or American Cheerleader. Girls’ Life focuses on real information and advice about actual challenges faced by young girls today, while American Cheerleader is perfect for teen athletes interested in cheer-leading.
- Video games are very popular among teens today. For the video game enthusiast, you might consider Electronic Gaming Monthly or a variety of online gaming magazines.
2. Purchase an e-reader – Today’s teens are extremely tech savvy and most would prefer to use technology in all of their daily activities. Put an e-reader into your teens’ hands and watch their reading levels soar. You can avoid dealing with games and other apps by purchasing a simple e-reader such as a Nook or original Kindle. Both retail for under $100 and are portable and easy to use.
3. Consider giving your child a book allowance – Whether your child purchases books from the bookstore, shops online or reads electronic books, a book allowance may be a good idea. A book allowance should be in addition to any other allowance your teen already receives. To stretch the allowance, take them to book sales, used books stores, thrift shops and garage sales where books are available for a reduced price.
Make it easy on yourself by giving them a gift card to a bookstore or credits to purchase books on their e-readers. Give them ownership over their reading by allowing them to select their own books, including graphic novels and comics. Even if it is only one book a month, it is a definite way to encourage teens to read.
4. Don’t FORCE your teens to read! – Yes, you heard me right. This may sound wrong (especially coming from a teacher), but I believe that forcing your teenagers to read can actually push them further away from the idea. Instead, provide interesting reading materials (see tips above) and sufficient reading time and space. Keep televisions out of the bedrooms and enjoy quiet family time away from the TV and computers. Model for your teens by picking up your favorite magazine or book each evening. Provide comfortable reading areas around the home or in bedrooms with beanbags, pillows and adequate lighting.
At school, I found the best way to get my 5th and 6th grade students to read was to establish a quiet time at the beginning of every class period and have high-quality reading materials available. When my students entered the classroom, they were instructed to enter quietly and remain quiet for the first 20 minutes of class. They could spread around the room on chairs, beanbags and pillows and either read, browse new reading materials or work in their reading journals. (They each had individual weekly and monthly reading goals that affected their grades, so they did have to read at some point.)
I found that my students actually read more when I didn’t force it upon them. I gave them ownership of their reading. Of course, I always had a student or two that would test the limits, but the percentage of students who would eventually choose to read was far greater after I quit shoving it down their throats.
In addition, don’t forget the tips from my previous article. No matter their age, if your child is open to having you read aloud, then take advantage of that. And don’t forget to always make books and reading time available to your children!