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Age 12-16: When Other Interests Take Over

‘Keeping reading going is just as important in the teenage years as at any other time. Parents/carers just have to be more subtle about their input, in order to encourage talk around, and enjoyment in, reading, while making it not look like they are demanding it should be done.’

David Reedy, literacy expert

The important thing about the teenage years is to stay involved with your child’s reading.

Here are some tips:

Pick up on Anything That Interests Them

Be on the lookout for opportunities to connect reading with what your teenager is into and what is popular. Films can be a huge motivation for reading books. If they are mad about celebs, give them biographies about their favourites. There is a book or magazine for every possible interest – cookery books, manga, graphic novels, adventure, romance, fantasy – the list is endless!

You can really help by exposing your teen to a variety of different reading material. They are working out their identity, exploring what kind of a person they are and what they are interested in. Trying different books is like trying on identities: ‘Am I a thrillers kind of guy?’ or ‘Do I like traditional romance books?’ and so on.

Reading Doesn’t Always Mean Finishing

It’s perfectly fine for them to start reading something and then think, This is not for me, and stop! Make sure your teen realises they don’t have to finish something if it doesn’t click. The more books they read the more it will help them work out their likes and dislikes and reflect their growing sense of individuality.

No Pressure

Don’t put pressure on them or nag them to read more, as this will probably backfire. Teens commonly go through phases of not being very interested in reading, just like adults do. Don’t worry about it. Just continue to encourage them with a light touch.

Bring Books to Life

Bringing books to life at this stage can be done very easily by sharing books. Show an interest in what your teen is reading. Ask them to recommend a book, read it yourself, and then talk about it together.

Practise What You Preach

Set a good example yourself. Let your teen see you enjoying reading and you will provide a positive role model.

The information and tips on this page are taken from Help Your Child Love Reading, which contains advice on encouraging reading for every age group – from babies to teens.