What influence do parents have on teens and their reading?
Everyone knows that teens decrease contact with the family while they are striving to develop their own identity. However, family influence is still very important to your teen. If you look at avid readers, they have an ongoing dialog about books with their family and this sparks interest to read (Strommen & Mates, 2004). You can encourage your teen by reading and talking about anything you enjoy reading not just books. BTW, 55% of young adults books are bought by adults. You might find their books interesting and fun to read.
What if your teen does not choose books
Of course, you know your teen needs to select books they are interested in because choice is a motivator to reading. However, if they do not choose a book on their own what can you do? You can supply them with book options they might enjoy from your local library to get them started. The question then is how to get books they want to read. Start with what you know about your teen. On Voya, they have a test about teen culture so you can find out what you know about your teen. This is the link to the august quiz. It is a fun quiz but does not cover all teen interests such as video games. In fact, my teens would fail the quiz. In all fairness, I rated “falling off the balance beam” but I know what the meme “arrow to the knee” means. If you do not know this meme and your child plays video games, you should check it out.
If you did bad on the test check out the website by Storey and Roope on teen culture with links to information and facts on teens. They organized it by categories like “teens at home” or “teen slang”. There is one link to a fast find guide for teens that your child might have an interest. All of this can give you insight into your young adult’s world, which can aid book selection on topic they are interested. The Young Adult Library Services Association has a simple selection criteria you might want to use when picking books for your reluctant reader. This link is to their 2012 list of books for reluctant young adult readers. For male readers, try the lists by guys read where the genre includes comics and at least one explosion.
Other reasons teens give for not reading is no time (Strommen & Mates, 2004). You can counter this by selecting books with few pages. For example, Nothing by Janne Teller is an award-winning book with only 227 pages. The “Lazy readers” book club is a search tool for locating books for people who do not have time to read. You can search by page length. Offer your teen audio books to listen to in the car. This has always been a great pastime when on a trip. You can even listen to audio books while doing chores or exercise. Books are great to cure boredom when waiting in lines. I am sure there are many more suggestions that you can think of to help create more time to read.
One final note, make sure the book is not difficult for your teen. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to read something you do not understand. Why would you bother? A simple test is if there are five words on one page they do not know, then try another book. You might look for books that have high interest with low vocabulary. These are called Hi-Lo books such as ones from this resource. Either way if your YA is not interested in the book then do not make them finish it just try a different book.
Strommen, L., & Mates, B. (2004). Learning to love reading: Interviews with older children and teens. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(3), 188-200