Battle of the Books: Convincing Your Child to Read

Battle of the Books:

Convincing Your Teen to Read

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Smart phones have made life a lot easier. We can summon a cab, text a friend, edit a picture, watch a video, and Wikipedia a celebrity’s life story in the span of ten minutes. While that’s fantastic in terms of convenience, it has its downsides. Notably, it wastes time that could be used in a much more enriching, productive way. How on Earth can you convince your teen to read a book when there are so many fun, mindless things to do on their iPhone instead?

 

Help them find books related to their interests.

A lot of my friends in high school laughed at me for being a bookworm. The only reading they ever did was required by a teacher, and the idea of enjoying a book was a totally foreign concept to them. Show your child that not all books are created equal. They might not have loved The Grapes of Wrath, but they certainly might enjoy a book set in present day. They might detest fiction, but the biography of their favorite athlete might get them hooked. Look on Amazon for highly rated books about their favorite hobbies or passions, or ones similar to their favorite TV show. It only takes one great book to convince your teen to read others.

 

convince your teen to read

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Give them challenges.

I firmly believe that reading has endless intangible benefits, but that isn’t always the most convincing endorsement for a teen. When you’re encouraging them to get reading, don’t underestimate the value of a little bribery. Daniel Dickey, an English teacher in a Miami school with a less than stellar reputation, used the “Million Word Campaign” to get his students reading. It doesn’t matter what they choose to read, only that they read. Think about instituting something like this in your home, where your teen has incentives to read a certain amount of words, pages, or books. Your child will naturally want to read things they can stomach, and that will hopefully teach them that reading can be enjoyable. It’s all about finding interesting reading material!

convince your teen to read

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Explain the facts.

Your kid isn’t in kindergarten, and reading isn’t a vegetable that you have to sneak into their food because it’s “good for them.” To convince your teen to read, you can simply explain how much it can benefit them as they grow up. By reading regularly, they’ll expand their vocabularies and learn how to communicate more effectively. Writing can become easier for them, and they’ll have more knowledge about the world around them. Even if they aren’t academically motivated, who doesn’t want to become a better conversationalist? Who doesn’t want to become wittier, or at least one-up friends with in-depth knowledge about their hobbies and interests? The funniest comedians, the most successful entrepreneurs, the most inspiring humanitarians, and the most ambitious leaders are brilliant in their fields, and reading goes hand-in-hand with goals of all kinds.

 

convince your teen to read

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Walk the walk.

If you're trying to convince your teen to read while sitting in front of the television playing Candy Crush, they probably won’t be convinced. While you’re searching for books that you think your child might like, find some for yourself! If your teen sees you getting absorbed into a book, they’ll be much more likely to try it out for themselves. Even though I thought my mom was “sooo embarrassing” when I was in high school, her love of reading really made an impression on me. Whenever she set a new goal or became interested in a new hobby, a new stack of books would show up at our door. To say that rubbed off a little bit on me would be a massive understatement. 

 

convince your teen to read

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Let them read what they want to read.

It might be really impressive for them to come home from school and plop down on the couch with some James Joyce or Shakespeare, but try to manage your expectations. Rather than encourage them to read specific books or genres, encourage them to simply read! Even if they’re getting lost in comic books, fashion blogs, or “lowbrow” fiction, reading is reading. Once your teen discovers that there is reading material for their every whim, you’ve successfully opened the door to a lifetime passion.

 

convince your teen to read

 

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