Getting teens to read can be a huge challenge. Many teens complain they have so much required reading for school that they just don’t enjoy reading for fun. Their free time is filled with sports, work, and activities. When they have downtime, reading can’t compete with the draw of a video game or social media for entertainment
Even with all the recent popularity and sales of young adult novels, the numbers on teen reading habits don’t look good. This summer, Common Sense Media released results of a study that showed a marked decrease in teens reading for pleasure compared to thirty years ago. According to the report, “the proportion who "never" or "hardly ever" read tripled since 1984. A third of 13-year-olds and 45% of 17-year-olds say they've read for pleasure one to two times a year, if that.”
Inspiring teens to read and use the library has been a goal of The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) since 1989 when they created a national adolescent literacy initiative to celebrate reading for fun. Each year, Teen Read Week is held during the third week of October, encouraging teens to take advantage of reading in many forms from books and magazines to e-books, and audiobooks. This year’s theme is Turn Dreams into Reality @ Your Library. Look to your local libraries or bookstores for events and programs to celebrate Teen Read Week from October 12-18, 2014.
As a parent of teens, I've witnessed firsthand how difficult it can be to prompt teenagers to read- especially boys. Boys of a certain age are particularly tough to motivate.
I've tried incentives and rewards. Often I am successful with the "book into movie" theme. Upon finishing The Hunger Games, I took my then pre-teen to a premiere midnight show on a school night. I've offered rewards such as cash, chore free days, and even cheeseburgers.
I have also resorted to a little psychology, perhaps saying that the book was better for someone "older" and it might not "be quite appropriate" for them to read just yet. There is some element of motivation or curiosity that is piqued when they are doing something more grown up.
Getting them hooked on a series or favorite author also seems to offer a path to least resistance.
What can parents of teens do to recognize Teen Read Week at home?
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has some suggestions:
- Set aside time each day for the family to read
- Give books or magazine subscriptions to your teen as a gift or reward
- Share your favorite book with your teen
- Go online with your teen to learn about new books or authors by visiting www.ala.org/yalsa/reads4teens, or use YALSA’s free Teen Book Finder app
- Host a book discussion group
- Build an in-home library (thrift stores and yard sales offer an inexpensive way to do that)
- Listen to audiobooks on trips
- Create a cozy reading corner somewhere in your home
- Use meal time to talk about books that you’re reading
- Parents and caregivers can be role models by making time to read, too
- Incorporate reading into teen chores, such as reading a recipe when cooking, reading instructions for how-to projects, reading sales fliers to develop a shopping list, and more
Teens can vote for their Top Ten Nominees for Favorite books of 2014 by visiting the website.
I love the ideas suggested by YALSA and the entire concept of Teen Read Week. I would love to try to extend it at home into Teen Read Month! The only drawback I can see is the top nominees are slim on books appealing to boys. Readers, if you have any suggestions for teen boys- please post them in the comments below.
Teen Read Week is a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association. For more information and ideas, visit www.ala.org/teenread.
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