Top Tips: Our tips for encouraging teens to read

Top Tips: Our tips for encouraging teens to read

Top Tips: Our tips for encouraging teens to read
Top Tips: Our tips for encouraging teens to read

If you have joyful memories of sitting and reading with your toddler, but now they've turned into a teenager and would rather eat brussel sprouts than pick up a book, then you're not alone. Many parents worry that their teens have lost interest in reading and about the impact that it might have.

We know that reading is important for teens. The Competent Learners project run by the New Zealand Council for Education Research which followed a group of children from birth to age 26, found that at age 14, those who enjoyed reading had:

  • Better engagement at school

  • Better relationships and communication with family members

  • More positive friendships

  • A lower likelihood of engaging in risky behaviour

Reading can also help teens make sense of the world around them and what is happening to them if they can relate to the characters and situations in the books they read. So what do you do if your teen isn't an avid reader anymore? Here are our top five tips to bring back the joy of reading.

Five top tips for inspiring a love of reading:

  1. Remember, all reading is good reading - It's easy to think that reading only counts if your teen has their head stuck in a novel - preferably a classic author like Charles Dickens. But in reality, any reading is good reading. Yes, if possible, you want to encourage book reading but don't criticise everything else. A magazine. A graphic novel or a comic. A recipe. An ebook or an article on a website. An online manual related to a game or hobby. It's all reading, so encourage it. Once your teen has the reading bug in some way, you can steer them towards more books.

  2. Model reading - If you want your teen to enjoy reading, it can help if you show that reading for pleasure is fun. You don't have to read Charles Dickens either (unless you want to). Magazines, recipes, graphic novels, website articles -they all count when you read them too. If you can commit to it, why not challenge your teen to have reading time together when everyone puts down their devices and gets lost in reading? Start short with just 10 minutes or so and see if you can build up.

  3. Tie reading into other things or their interests - One way of encouraging reading is to find a book based on their interests or something they can relate to in another area. Your teen might also be surprised how many major movies and TV shows started as books. If they enjoyed a TV show like Alex Rider or movies like The Hunger Games or Wonder, point them in the direction of the books they came from. They'll get the benefit of already knowing the plot, which can make it easier to get into the book. These days, plenty of celebrity authors are writing young adult and children's books too, from comedian David Walliams to cricketer David Warner. Finding a book by someone your teen admires might spark their interest.

  4. Choose books for your teen's capabilities, not just based on age - You know your teen best, so be guided by them, not just their age. If they struggle to comprehend some things, choose books aimed at children a little younger to get them started and build up. But if your teen is bright and capable but doesn't like reading, don't be afraid to challenge and perhaps even consider an adult book. Make sure that the books you choose are not tackling subjects your teen isn't ready for. Many young adult books include topics like race, sex and relationships and violence. If you aren't sure, it can be a good idea to read the book yourself first and be aware of any questions that might arise.

  5. Ask for recommendations - If you are TikTok savvy, then check out BookTok for fab reading ideas. BookTok is a hashtag on TikTok used by people to showcase what they are reading or new and exciting books. Teens are often more motivated when they have made choices themselves or got recommendations or advice from their peers or other people than from parents so BookTok could be a great source of new ideas. Not TikTok savvy? Ask your teen - they'll know what to do!

If you prefer old school, then your local library is also a great source. Pick the brains of your local librarian to see what might be good.

Want some help finding fab books for your teen to read? 

Book Box offers a Young Adult option as part of our subscriptions. All you need to do is sign up, tell us a bit about your teen's interests and any genres or specific authors they like, and we'll send them a great read each month based on those choices. We have a huge range in stock, including books by NZ authors.

Our subscriptions make great gifts if you are looking for an alternative to yet another toy or computer game for Christmas or a birthday or at any time of year. While you are signing up, why not get a subscription for yourself too? You'll get a new adult book each month. Maybe you and your teen can even set aside time for reading your Book Box books together.

- Words by Arwen Hann

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