BY ANN K. DOLIN, M.ED.
Here’s How to Win This Worthy
Getting any child to
read can be a challenge, but trying to encourage a teenager to read is even
more of an undertaking. If you’re like a lot of parents you have tried several
tactics to get your teen to read from ordering the latest teen bestseller, to
trips to the library, and even rewards. Perhaps arguments over reading have
spiraled downward into yelling matches and now you’re wondering if it’s worth
the power struggle.
The benefits of reading include an increased
vocabulary, better grades, improved cognitive skills, and higher SAT scores.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to make the environment
ripe for reading without pushing your child (or yourself) over the edge.
Buy a Kindle or Nook
One of the best investments you can make is
the purchase of an e-reader. Teens love electronics and are much more likely to
flip the switch on their e-book than to pick up a paperback. Moreover, once
they finish with one book, the next book is at the tip of their fingers in
their e-reader storefront. This is especially important for kids that get
hooked on a series; they are more likely to go onto the next book without loosing
momentum if they have easy access.
Select a Series
Even the most reluctant readers will latch on
to a series that is relatable and fun to follow. Many girls enjoy the Missing
Persons series by E.B. Rabb about high school sisters who run away from their
New York home to escape their evil stepmother. The girls change their names,
color their hair, and take up a new hobby—solving
missing person’s cases. Who can resist such a thriller? You can find a list of
books just for reluctant readers by searching teenreads.com or ala.com (search
for “reluctant teens”).
Loved a Movie? Read the Book
A book turned movie sure to inspire is Soul
Surfer. This memoir follows teen
surfer Bethany Hamilton’s journey from the day she’s attacked by a 14-foot
tiger shark to her awe-inspiring recovery and return to surfing. Water for
Elephants is another book turned movie starring Robert Pattinson from the
Twilight series. This one is best for older or more mature teens. Get them to
read the book and then buy them a movie ticket to see it come to life.
Get a Driver’s Manual
Most teenagers look forward to driving, but
they have to study in order to pass the written exam. Purchase a driver’s
manual for your teen to read with you or independently. Reading is reading, in
Turn Off Everything Else with a Screen
The last step to getting your child to read is
to carve out time each evening for reading. Everyone should put away cell
phones, put down the Blackberry, turn off the television, iTouch, and anything
else that draws attention, except the e-reader, of course! Even fifteen or
twenty minutes before bedtime is enough time to instill the love of reading.
Relax and Read without Criticizing
During this time, do one of two things: either
read silently on your own as a role model or lie down in bed with your child
and read aloud. Your teen is not too old to read with you. Try not to correct
your child’s mistakes or ask too many questions. As soon as kids feel pressured
or judged, they’re less willing to read. When your teen begins to associate
reading with evening relaxation and the fun of delving into a page-turning
book, he’ll be more likely to read independently and for pleasure later on. GFM
Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., is the founder and
president of Educational Connections, Inc., a comprehensive provider of
educational services (ectutoring.com). Check out her award-winning book, Homework Made Simple:
Tips, Tools and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework (anndolin.com).