RAISING TEENAGERS

How To Encourage Your Kids To Read Great Books

A woman in jeans and a jersey cross legged on her bed reading a book

We say we want our kids reading more, we recognise the importance of it, for their learning, their imagination, and it’s a perfect way for them to rest their mind and body. 

When they were small, they hung off every book we could read to them.  When they were school age and learning to read, we encouraged them to read every day of the week. We read to them, they read to themselves, reading books was what we did.  We weren’t necessarily thrilled about reading ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ for the millionth time, but we did it.  And we did it because it was what they needed. 

Recently though, I read research by Common Sense Media which shows that 53% of 9-year-olds read every day for fun, but that number drops significantly to 27% by the time they are 13 years old, and by the time they are 17, only 19% of them still read every day for fun.  

Internet, video gaming, and binge-able Netflix are the time suckers of the century, and there is no wonder why our kids are having problems finding the time or even a thought or desire to read just for the fun of it. 

By the time they have finished homework, required reading or lessons, the last thing they want to do is read more.

53% OF 9-YEAR-OLDS READ EVERYDAY FOR FUN – BUT BY THE TIME THEY ARE 17 ONLY 19% OF THEM READ EVERYDAY FOR FUN! 

I think that we have simply gotten out of the habit of reading. It’s become normal for us to watch something rather than read a story.

Heck, we are more likely to watch someone reading than to actually read ourselves! 

We made time to read to them when they were small because they needed it. They needed quiet by themselves, space to rest during the day, wind down time before going to sleep at night. The core benefits of what reading or being read to gave them, never went away. 

What they needed then…they still need at 13 and 17. 

I could almost guarantee you, that if you have an expectation that they will read and you work hard to provide great books for the pre-teen/teenaged young people in your home, they will read!

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HOW I REALISED THEY NEEDED GREAT BOOKS

My kids read books, but they didn’t always read very good books. They read mostly generic books that looked more like cartoons with big pictures and no decent storyline. Yes, at least they were reading, I’m not downplaying that fact. Some of you might have kids that squirm at the sight of a book, I get it, I was glad my kids were happy to read.

But it really bugged me that they were reading books that had zero quality, depth or substance. They didn’t get anything out of it other than the fact they were ‘reading something’. They were ticking a box. 

I wanted them to get excited about the stories they were reading, talk about what the characters were like, or what they would do if they were in the story. But they couldn’t because there was nothing to tell.  They couldn’t recognize one book from the next or remember what they read in those books. 

Most importantly they didn’t have any desire to go read those books for FUN.

HOW I GOT THEM STARTED

So, I did what most mums do when they have a problem with their kids, they ask other mums who know! I was introduced to books I didn’t even know existed. I had all the titles, authors and recommendations I needed to my kids started.  It was FABULOUS!! 

I knew they were ready for something a bit more fun so I had a list of books for them to choose from.   We began looking for what books to start on. My youngest was happy to give anything I suggested a go and didn’t mind trying something a bit different. My older one was a bit more reluctant, but he was also happy to start with something I recommended.  

I promised they wouldn’t be boring and hoped that my other mum friends were right, and they were!

RULES FOR YOU TO HELP THEM GET READING AGAIN

  • They have never had to read anything I knew they wouldn’t truly enjoy.  There are many things kids have to do that are boring, I never wanted reading to be one of them. Find fantastic stories that you know they will enjoy, make sure you read reviews etc. 
  • Make sure the book is at their level of comprehension and easy enough for them to follow but still hard enough they don’t think it’s babyish. www.goodreads.com
  • Start with small wins by getting them reading one chapter a day.  Eventually, you will find them reading more on their own. 
  • Have the expectation that you know your child is capable of reading more than what they are currently.  They are capable of increasing their abilities and to be honest, they want to learn, they want to get better at things. 
  • Always remember, you are encouraging reading for entertainment, relaxation and imagination, most of all FUN!  Don’t be an ogre about it or punish them for not reading. Help them get into a story that you know they will love and let the book do the rest. 

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