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How to get Teenagers Hooked on Books

Ms Johnston, Deputy Head of DCIS English Department discusses how we can get teenagers engaged in books in a time and age where there are many other things fighting for their attention.

An English Teacher’s perspective

As an English teacher I talk to parents frequently about the reading habits of their children. What I hear most often is that their child used to love reading, was a bookworm in Primary school and yet, for some reason, lost interest in reading around the age of 12.

Why is it that students stop being such avid readers as they become teenagers and what can we, as teachers and parents do to rekindle the love of reading?

The impact of reading
A study by Professor Vivian Howard into the impact of reading for pleasure amongst young adults aged 12-15 showed that reading develops analytical skills, communication skills but also our empathy.  The study showed that reading for pleasure ‘enhanced academic performance’ it also has a positive impact on our personal development and allows young adults to understand relationships and develop their own values as they transition from childhood to adulthood.[i]

The numerous and profound benefits of reading are clear, but how can we overcome the plethora of distractions and obstacles to reading?

Some strategies to try at home

  • Build reading into your child’s daily routine. Before bed is ideal as reading aids sleep whilst screens disrupt sleep
  • Offer a choice of books, both accessible and challenging
  • Find out what books their friends have enjoyed; a recommendation from a peer is more likely to have an influence
  • Explore online reading lists together, visit the library or Kinokuniya
  • Try audio books as a fantastic but less taxing option that can be enjoyed while travelling

National Library Online
Did you know that The National Library Board allow you to download e-books directly onto your device, for free? Using the Libby app, you can download e-Books or Audiobooks into your device so that you don't need an internet connection to read.

The path of a reader is not a runway but more a hack through a forest, with individual twists and turns, entanglements and moments of surprise. (Holden, 2004)

I hope that some of these ideas are helpful. The English department are also doing our best to foster a love of reading. Please do contact us if you have ideas to share or if you need book recommendations.

Imagine if all our students were hooked on books!

Emily Johnston 
Acting Deputy Head of English




[i] Howard, V. 2011, The Importance of pleasure reading in the lives of young teens: self-identification, self-construction and self-awareness