How to encourage your teen to read a book

teen to read a book

As a parent who's successfully managed to foster a love for reading in my teenagers, I understand the struggle of enticing your teen to read a book. 

The allure of screens and digital entertainment can make the world of literature seem like uncharted territory to our tech-savvy teens. 

However, I'm here to share insights and strategies that have worked wonders in my household in the hopes of helping you guide your teen toward the enriching world that books can offer. 

From understanding their preferences to creating a conducive reading environment, I'm excited to offer guidance on how to spark that reading flame in your teenagers. 

So, whether you're a book enthusiast or simply aiming to expand your teen's horizons, let's explore the art of encouraging your teen to embark on the journey of reading a book.

Give them books you think they’ll enjoy

Imagine you're at the bookstore, and you spot a book that instantly reminds you of something your teenager likes. Buy it, wrap it up ... and give it to them as a surprise gift.

This simple gesture can do wonders for encouraging your teen to read a book. 

You can be tempted to give them books that align with your own interest or ideas of what good reads are. But remember, the key is to find books that align with their hobbies, passions, or even current favourite movies or TV shows. If your teen loves sci-fi, introduce them to space adventures. If they're into mysteries, find gripping detective novels.

By choosing books for their tastes, you're laying the foundation for a reading habit they'll relish.

What's even more awesome? You don't have to buy all these books! Head on to your public library, so they can pick and choose the exact books they want.

Lead by example

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon, and you cosy up with your favourite novel, a steaming cup of tea in hand. Guess what? Your teenager's curious eyes will wander toward that intriguing book cover.

I discovered on this journey as a mum: kids are like sponges, soaking up what they see around them! Whether it's your healthy (or unhealthy) habits, books, or phone, they will naturally gravitate toward the things they see their caregivers enjoy. So, let's make reading more than just a hobby; let's make it a vibrant part of our daily lives.

Here's the kicker: getting your teen to read a book is simple! Just let them see you loving it. Read a book on your rest time. Include a trip to bookstores and libraries whenever you go to vacations. Fill your home with all sorts of books. Talk about your reading experiences. Share your fascination with the characters, and the excitement of turning the pages.

Let them see that reading isn't a chore but an adventure, a journey into uncharted territories of imagination and knowledge!

Create a reading-friendly environment

I remember when I decided to carve out a reading corner for my teens, and the effect was truly enchanting. We took a quiet corner of our home and brought it to life with their favourite colours and soft furnishings. 

Their eyes sparkled with excitement as they picked out posters of their beloved bands and artwork from school to adorn their sacred reading space.

And, oh, the books! We filled the shelves with a cornucopia of genres – from adventures to heartwarming stories, ensuring there was something to suit every mood and taste. (Your local op shop is a great place to buy cheap books en masse.)

The result? Their sanctuary became a portal to a secret universe, like a world of stories!

The best thing is, creating a reading-friendly environment to get your teen to read a book doesn't have to be expensive. Your book nook can simply be an under-utilised space in your house, decorated with things you already have. What's important is it's a place where they can read books in peace, without the distraction of devices.

Limit screen time

Gadgets are a challenge we all face as parents, but here's a trick that's worked in my household: strike a balance, and make it a family affair! I set reasonable screen time limits for them, and yes, it wasn't always met with smiles, but it's crucial.

What's our courageous alternative? Reading, of course!

I made it a rule - for every hour they spend glued to screens, they must spend an hour immersed in a book. Trust me, this simple rule has made a world of difference in getting a teen to read a book.

At first, there were grumbles and protests, but soon ... oh, soon, it'll start to happen. With time and with lots of books suited to their individual interests, their addiction to screen time began to decrease, and the joys of literature took over.

Give them an incentive

I’ll admit it. I got both of my daughters to read their first book by giving them a $20 incentive. You’ll be amazed at what a teen will do for money!

I just knew that if they had the right book and saw it through to the end, they would love the experience and keep reading.

Lucky for me, it worked. Both my girls carried on reading, even without the monetary incentive. Thank goodness, as I would be penniless by now!

Aside from some cash, think about what would inspire your teen to read a book.

How about a treat to their favourite restaurant after reading a certain number of books? Or, you can offer one less chore for the week for every novel they finish. Dangle the carrot and watch the magic happen.

Tell them about the mental health impacts of reading

As a mum who's been through the teenage rollercoaster, I've seen how reading can be a lifesaver.

Once, my eldest was going through a tough time at school. She was stressed and anxious, and it broke my heart.

So I decided to share my own story with her. I told her about a book that helped me when I felt overwhelmed, just like she did. 

I said: "Sweetie, books are like a soothing balm for the soul. They whisk you away from your troubles, calm those racing thoughts, and bring a sense of peace like nothing else."

And guess what? She actually tried it!

She picked up that book, and I could see the tension slowly melt away from her face. My daughter realised that reading wasn't just a hobby; it was her escape, her secret weapon against stress.

So, mums, share your stories about how books have been your rock during tough times. 

Let them know that reading isn't just about words on pages; it's a lifeline to emotional resilience, a friend that's always there to lend a comforting hand. 

Tell them that reading is cool!

One of my daughters was a tiny bit challenging to convince to start reading, so the last thing I tried was showing her role models. Specifically, I would show her stories and quotations from actors like Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. Knowing her favourite screen wizards loved to read changed her notions about the activity.

So, share stories of famous people, from authors to athletes, who are avid readers. Learning that they share the same interests with people they look up to can influence your teen to continue reading.

Highlight how reading broadens horizons, and makes them more interesting conversationalists. 

Lastly, encouraging your teen to read the book requires creativity, patience ... and a dash of parental ingenuity.

Remember, it's not just about getting your teen to read a book; it's about opening the door to a world of imagination, knowledge, and personal growth. 

My final thoughts: How to encourage your teen to read a book

Embarking on the wonderful journey of encouraging your teen to read a book is a path filled with delightful rewards and shared moments of joy. I hold a strong belief that armed with a touch of insight, a sprinkle of inspiration, and an abundance of affection, we, as mums, can guide our adolescents into the enchanting universe of books.

Ultimately, instilling a love for reading in your teen is an expedition characterised by affection and deep connections. As mums, we are both privileged and accountable for helping them unlock the treasure trove of wisdom, expanding their horizons, and setting forth on exhilarating journeys—all within the pages of a book.

By following the practical hints and techniques outlined in this guide, you can embark on this adventure with patience, enthusiasm, and an open-hearted attitude, all the while keeping in mind that the realms they discover within the pages will forever accompany them.

Cheers to the enchantment of reading and the captivating journey that lies ahead for both you and your beloved teenager.

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Sally Love

About the author

Sally Love is a pseudo single mum author who has been writing about single motherhood, separation and divorce for 8+ years. She has been a single mother for 10+ years and has two daughters, one of whom she co-parents and the other she solo parents. Sally has experienced all aspects of single motherhood from legal, financial, parenting, dating, travel as a single parent, re-partnering and re-building a career. She is an integral part of the Beanstalk community chatting and helping single mothers across the globe, as well as sharing her expertise, experiences and genuine reviews with major national newspapers and appearing on nation-wide television shows.

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