The teenage reluctant reader is a real challenge. By age 13, many children have developed “coping” skills to avoid reading and attitude issues (“that book is dumb”) that interfere with recreational reading. By this point, reading at home is not a habit and a child's day is often entirely filled with sports, videogames and friends – so there's little time for reading to happen.
As well, teenagers often resent the involvement of parents in their reading and schoolwork. Boy reluctant readers, especially, will deny that they have any problem at all. And just to make it all worse, the readability levels of high-school textbooks are often at the university or grad-school level.
Parents have little choice but to work with the school's resource room or special education teachers to develop a program. If your child has access to the resource room, regular discussions with the resource room teachers are in order. The more involved you are with your child's education, the better off he will be.
We recommend our HIP Edge series of novels for teenagers because the topics are relevant and the stories a bit "edgy." We feel it is far more important for students of any age to read and re-read easy texts than to struggle (sometimes with tapes or computer assistance) with books that are simply too hard.
At home, parents are often limited to book conversations based on the back-cover blurb. Still, the opportunity must be taken. As well, try to find out what your son or daughter's friends are reading. Nothing is more powerful than a book recommendation from a friend.
We recommend a special “book allowance” for reluctant readers. One books they pick for themselves (often it will be humor, non-fiction or a graphic novel) and one book you pick and discuss as they read. Teenagers demand choice, but they will be satisfied with a fair deal. Your goal as a parent is to keep recreational reading going.
Often the reading choices of teenagers are not what parents would approve. Nonetheless, a child reading teen magazines, motorcycle books or even overly graphic graphic novels is at least reading. Support the reading.
By this time, your reluctant reader has already discovered that reading is not “fun.” What he needs to hear repeated is a simple phrase: “reading will make you smart.” Indeed, the full adult world is not accessible by websites, DVD movies and email. If your child is going to be a success, he needs to learn to read and read well enough for the future he faces.