Be a positive role model for reading
Let your teen see you reading for pleasure and during routine activities such as reviewing letters, recipes, instructions, newspapers, magazines, and e-mail.
Make sure you have lots of reading materials at home for your teen
Reading materials don't have to be new or expensive. You often can find good books and magazines at yard or library sales. Ask family members and friends to consider giving your teen books and magazine subscriptions as gifts for birthdays or other special occasions.
Give your teen a lot of opportunities to read
If you have younger children or older relatives who can't read, ask your teen to read out loud — everyone will enjoy it! There may also be volunteer opportunities in your community for teens to read with children, senior citizens, individuals who are blind, or hospital patients.
Take your teen to the local library
Help him get his own library card. Ask librarians to tell him about different resources, such as books, magazines, reference materials, computers, homework programs, and the "Young Adult" section of the library, which has fiction and non-fiction books for teens. Find out the library's hours so that he can return on his own. Learn more in Library Services for Teenagers.
Allow your teen to choose her books
Teens are more likely to read books or magazines that interest them. Help your teen find books on a topic or hobby that interests her, or give her some time on her own to explore the library and bookstore. Consider giving her a subscription to a magazine that she would enjoy.
Look for reading materials related to your family history or culture
As teens get older and begin to think about their own identities, they often become more interested in their backgrounds. This interest can contribute to a healthy sense of pride in their heritage and culture, and reading is a great way for your teen to explore those interests. Information will be available at the library, on the Internet, and maybe even in your attic!
If your teen is bilingual, encourage reading in both languages
The important thing is for your teen to read. It's ok if your teen reads in his first language, second language, or both languages! If your teen prefers reading in Spanish, for example, look for Spanish books and magazines at the library. This will help him keep his Spanish skills strong and give him more reading practice - which will also help his English reading skills too.
Talk to your teen's teachers about reading
Don't be shy — the teacher will welcome your interest! Ask for lists of books for your teen to read independently at home, and ways that you can support reading at home.
If your teen has difficulty reading, talk to his teachers immediately
Ask the teachers to evaluate why your teen is struggling, what the school is doing to help him, and what you can do at home to support your teen. When teens struggle with reading, it's important for parents and teachers to work together to help solve the problem.
Don't worry if your teen isn't always interested in pleasure reading
Sometimes, teens just aren't interested in reading. Maybe they are focused on their friends, activities, or schoolwork. That's normal — give them some time, and keep lots of reading material around the house. They will pick it up when they are ready!
This article was adapted from the following articles:
Reading Is Fundamental. "How Parents Can Encourage Teens to Read." Retrieved 12/1/09. http://www.rif.org/parents/tips/tip.mspx?View=18
U.S. Department of Education. Office of Communications and Outreach. Helping Your Child through Early Adolescence. Washington, D.C., 2005. Retrieved 12/1/09. http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/adolescence/index.html.