10 Ways to Motivate Teens To Read

Discover ways to encourage your reluctant reader…

Inspiring a love of reading in children is easy when they’re toddlers – most young children devour books, sometimes quite literally if they’re teething! Board books, soft cloth books attached to buggies and squeaky waterproof books for the bath are familiar playmates for a young child. Many children continue their love of reading as they get older: they move on from colourful picture books to join the Gruffalo and Mouse in the deep, dark wood; laugh along at the mad-cap adventures of Captain Underpants and become spell-bound in the magical world of Harry Potter.

As kids get older, it’s common for this love of books to start to fade. Reading can feel more like a chore and not for pleasure. Whether teens are a lapsed bookworm or has little to no interest in books, we’re here to help with our top 10 ways to get teens reading again:


Pick up a book about one of your teen’s favourite films or TV series. Waterstones have a handy Film Books & Cinema Books section or you can ask your local librarian to help you find one. Once they’ve read it, you can ask your teen whether they thought the book was better or worse than the on-screen version and ask about any similarities/differences they noticed between the two.


Lengthy novels with pages and pages of words aren’t for everyone – fact. Some teens are immediately put off by large chunks of text and others lose interest pretty quickly. Graphic novels are a brilliant alternative. They’re packed with amazing artwork and gripping storylines to catch and keep your teen’s imagination. They’re not all superheroes and villains either… there are lots of fab YA (Young Adult) graphic novels out there. Check out these recommendations to get you started!


Try a collection of short stories. They’re perfect for dipping in and out of, plus they’re fast-paced and punchy – ideal for short-attention spans. Teens will also gain a sense of achievement when they finish each individual story. Penguin books have some great must-reads on this list.


Make school a bookworm’s paradise. Place magazines, books, comics and novels near some comfortable seating to encourage sporadic reading.


Audiobooks can be a clever segue into reading. Listening to a gripping story can spark an interest in plots and characters that can develop into a desire to pick up a book and continue the adventure. Amazon’s Audible has a fantastic YA section of audiobooks and you can borrow audiobooks from many libraries. 


Encourage teens to use their school’s library or the local library and get them signed up for a library card if they don’t already have one.  Borrowing rather than buying encourages them to opt for something they wouldn’t normally pick up because it doesn’t matter if they try it and don’t like it – it’s completely free. This helps to broaden their reading horizons by finding new authors and genres.


Some teens might consider being bookish as being geeky. There’s often a degree of stigma around reading and they may feel hesitant to have a roomful of books because they’re worried about what their mates will think. Enter the eBook! They can download books straight onto their phones or E Reader, such as a Kindle.


Bite-sized reading is just as good as sitting down for an hour with a book! Look for mini reading opportunities in day-to-day life to encourage and support teens with their reading development. Get them to read out directions on their next road trip. Encourage teens to read an article from today’s newspaper or even the back of the cereal box as they munch their breakfast.


Create a space in school for the kids to relax with a book in peace. You can make a book nook with a comfy chair or beanbag pillow, a lamp and, of course, a bundle of books. Make it inviting and comfortable.


Overall, be flexible and avoid ‘forcing’ a particular type of reading material on the kids. Let them lead – if they don’t like novels, try a graphic novel or comic. Swap short stories for poems or suggest a magazine or audiobook. Your teen will find the format that works for them and, once they do, they’ll be more enthusiastic and motivated to read for pleasure.


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