Summer is just around the corner, and if you’re like many moms, you may be wondering how to get the kids off of technology and into a book once in awhile, right? This is my how-to guide for summer reading for teens.
Reading is an important skill for success – no matter how you define it – and of course we all want our children to succeed. With that in mind, let me share six ways that you can encourage your teen (or pre-teen!) to get into a book and get off of the X-box.
Given that most kids today are pretty much hard-wired to various technological devices, consider meeting them where they’re at and start from there. After all, at the end of the day, I think what we all really want from our teens is that they stop playing games, and engage in either productive or relational activities, right? These tech-related ideas may fit the bill:
- Purchase a (aff) Student Prime account from Amazon. You can get them their own account at half-price, allowing them to download books to their heart’s content. I recommend, however, that you sit down with them beforehand and decide on ground rules. Will there be a $$ limit? Some genres that are “no-go”? Will they need your approval, or at least review, before they make a purchase? You know your children best, so make your rules and expectations meet their needs and abilities and your family’s values.
- Check into the free 30-day trial that (aff) Audible offers and get two free audiobooks! Does your child like to go around listening to music through those headphones? Maybe audiobooks is the route to go. No, it’s not exactly reading per se, but it is a great way to expose them to good literature. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of titles available, and more added all the time!
- Are you familiar with Wattpad? Think of it as reading and writing in a social setting. Basically, if you can’t find something you enjoy reading there, Wattpad enables you to write it yourself! (Please note: parental reviews of this app vary hugely. Parents should always preview any apps prior to use; and check out these parent reviews of the app.)
If your goal is to get the kids OFF of technology and into an honest-to-goodness paper-and-ink tome, stand strong! You may have to get creative, and you may have to read a book or two yourself (gasp!) but here are some other options in that case:
- This one doesn’t have to be anything formal, or it can be! Get a few of your child’s friends together and start a summer book club. Take turns recommending a book and then schedule a meeting every few weeks where they will discuss it together. Rotate hosting between friends’ homes and provide refreshments, or hold meetings at a local library. (Tech twist: set up a Facebook group, with privacy set to “secret” for security, where members can post questions and comments. But don’t use the group as a replacement for meeting together. Half the fun is the face-to-face social interaction!)
- Host a teen Reading Contest! Get together with some moms and put together a great prize package for the winner! Or approach your local library to see if they’re doing anything for teens… Or suggest that your local homeschool support group put one together. If that’s the case, however, make sure you’re willing to volunteer to head it up. And I’ll bet you could find another book-lovin’ mama to co-lead it with you!
- Model reading. OK, mom (and dad) time for you to pick up a book, too! Why not have a family reading contest? Sure, dad may be busy, but you could give him a pass and let him count the audio books he listens to on his commute to and from work. A contest may inspire a bit of friendly competition, and periodic discussions are another “excuse” to get the family together despite everybody’s crazy schedules. If your family doesn’t relish the competitive aspect, you could just have everybody keep a log, and then record the pages read together as a family.
So there you have it: both techie and non-tech ways to encourage your teen to get into the activity of reading. Hopefully, this will be the summer that reading becomes a habit! This will be the summer they develop a love for books!
You know, there are oh-so-many demands on your teen’s attention these days.
But if you can make reading an activity that creates warm, fun memories, books can become something that will both pique and satisfy your teen’s growing curiosity and provide lasting benefits far beyond these fleeting summer months…
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