Ten Ways Adults Can Support Teen Reading

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By the Young Adult Library Services Association

The National Endowment for the Arts released data (To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence) this week showing that Americans—and teenagers in particular—are reading less than they did just a few years ago. The number of 17-year-olds who say they never read for pleasure doubled in the past twenty years to 19 percent. But remember, good reading habits start at home and at your library. If you’re wondering how you can help get teens to read, here are ten ways to start:

10. Say It Loud, Say It Proud. Read stories, poems or articles from magazines and newspapers out loud with your teens—even the Sunday comics.

9. Get ’Em There. Make sure your teens have regular transportation to the library and plenty of time to find books and other material that interests them. If your teen’s school library opens early or stays open late, allow your teen extra time at school to browse the shelves.

8. Stock Up. The more books, magazines and other reading material you keep around the house, the more likely your teen is to pick up the habit. (And studies have shown that more books mean greater achievement in several subjects on standardized tests.) Before you worry about how much creating your home library will cost you, remember that the library lends all kinds of materials for free.

7. Tune In. Planning to spend a significant amount of time in your car? Pick out an audiobook to listen to with your teen. Tech-savvy parents can fill their teens’ mp3 players with audiobooks or subscribe them to podcasts about books or graphic novels or podcasts from magazines and newspapers. (Not tech savvy? Your librarian can help you download podcasts and audiobooks for your teen.)

6. Reading Is a Gift. Give your teen books, magazine subscriptions, graphic novels, audiobooks or gift certificates to bookstores as presents.

5. Everybody Wants to Be Free. Give your teens the freedom to choose materials that interest them and speak to their interests and hobbies. Teens read a lot of heavy material in school—let them pick up something light or fun to keep them interested in reading.

4. Sharing Shows You Care. Talk to your teens about what you read—and ask them to talk about what they’re reading with you. Talking about what you’ve read makes it meaningful and provides a bonding moment for you and your teen.

3. Do Your Civic Duty. When library levies are on your ballot, vote for them. Call your legislators and ask them to support legislation that helps libraries, like the Improving Literacy through School Libraries program or the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act. Ask your neighbors and friends to support libraries as well.

2. Lead by Example. Make sure your teen knows you set aside time to read every day and that you visit the library often. You’re a role model to your teen. If they see that reading and going to the library is important to you, they’ll make it important to them.

1. Remember: You’re Having Fun. Reading is a dynamic, engaging experience. It’s relaxing and informative, and it can be done in a number of ways. If your teen sees you enjoying reading as a hobby, they’ll realize that reading is fun and a hobby worth pursuing.

For 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos, and audio books for teens.  For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: yalsa@ala.org.