I have always loved reading and it breaks my heart when I hear a student say, “I hate reading. There is nothing out there that I like so I am just not going to even bother.” And they say that, more often than I would like. There is a major problem with that though… Teens need to read!! There are many reasons that I think that and many more studies done to prove that is 100% correct. I wanted to pull some of the reasons and research together and offer advice for parents and knowledge for my teens!! So here goes…
Why is reading important to teens?
- Reading as a teen leads to success! When teens read more than just their class assignments (in school and for homework), research clearly shows that they do well in school. The extra reading expands their vocabularies and also shows them how different writers put down their thoughts leading to better writing skills. If teens challenge themselves and read more serious literary works (the classics and even adult literature), they will gain skills in handling complex ideas. The more teens read, the more information they pick up. Wouldn’t you want to have a wide knowledge base to take to all of your classes… not just ELA? By reading more than just the basic information to get by, teens will develop a solid core of knowledge that is useful in a wide variety of classes. For example, the teen who reads biographies has a better understanding of prominent people studied in history classes.
- Another big dividend of reading as a teen is a good score on the verbal section of a college admissions test. There is nothing better and no better activity to build the vocabulary and comprehension skills needed to do well on these tests as well as reading. The requirements to get into the college of your choice and being narrowed every year and one of the first areas colleges look at are your SAT/ACT scores. The debate about the fairness of judging a student by their scores is still out (I always have been a horrible test taker, so believe me… I have your back on this one), but the scores are your ticket in. By reading more and expanding their vocabulary through reading teens have a greater chance of getting into the school of their choice.
- Having a knowledge of the world that surrounds them is also given to teens through reading. They learn about the people in our community, country and even our world through reading. By reading, teens are able to see that everyone has problems in his or her life and may even offer help for teens to see solutions to their own problems. It never ceases to amaze me that when I start talking about a current event or something that has hit home with me from the “real world” (as they like to call it) that some of them have no clue what I am talking about. This came into play big time during the elections. They knew bits and pieces but not the whole so we researched and some of them went home to question their parents about why they were voting for certain candidates. It definitely made me smile… they got it all through reading!!
- Teens need to learn (like we all know) that reading is enjoyable. It can bring a great deal of pleasure to teens and show them new adventures, expand their brain, and take them places they never thought imaginable. I love to get lost in a book and not come out until I am done with that adventure and move on to the next. There are literally thousands of wonderful writers out there and it is our privilege to share their book with them and want to go back for more. Teens need to understand this and the only way they can is if they dive in and find novels and material they enjoy. I think that too many teens don’t read because they have had books forced on them that are over their head or just don’t interest them so they block out all reading. That is what kills me and what I want to eradicate!!
Parents are the biggest advocates in this besides teachers (and book bloggers). There are many things that parents can do to encourage their teen to read and some of them are:
- Show interest in what your teen is reading. Ask them questions, get them to tell you about the characters, tell them to summarize it for you or even pick it up and read it yourself!
- Make sure your teen sees you reading. If they see that you value reading and take time out to do it as often as you can they are more likely to do the same.
- Keep books everywhere… in the car, all around the house, and in every nook and cranny you can find. I never go anywhere without a book and my reading journal. My husband is used to it. I take every opportunity I can to cram a few pages in here and there!
- Take them to the library or bookstore as often as possible and don’t rush them. Let them look through the shelves and read some of the book. I always tell my students to read the first chapter of a book when they get it off the shelf. If they don’t get into within that chapter, they probably won’t… so why waste the time and possibly cause someone else to miss out on a good book for them?
- Don’t criticize them for what they are reading… be glad they are and encourage them. So what if they pick up a book that has a strange cover or has witches or vampires in it. They are reading and that is what we want!! They will branch out to new things on their own time… I promise!
I hope that you can see my passion in reading and its importance to teens. They are our future and we need to make sure that we are setting them up for it in the best possible way… with knowledge!
Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to
mankind, which are delivered down from generation to
generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn,
~ Joseph Addison ~