My Teen Won’t Read — Is It Worth the Power Struggle?


Getting any child to read can be a challenge, but trying to encourage a teenager to read is even more of an undertaking. While the benefits of reading include an increased vocabulary, better grades, and higher SAT scores, the struggle may not be worth it if the parent/child relationship is impacted. Good news – there are many things to make the environment ripe for reading without pushing your child (or yourself) over the edge.


Buy a Kindle or Nook

One of the best investments you can make is the purchase of an e-reader. Teens love electronics and are much more likely to flip the switch on their e-book than to pick up a paperback. Moreover, once they finish with one book, the next book is at the tip of their fingers in the e-reader storefront. There, kids can also order audible books which allow them to listen as they follow along with the text.


Select a Series

Even the most reluctant readers will latch on to a series that is relatable and fun to follow. Many girls enjoy the Missing Persons series by E.B. Rabb about high school sisters who run away from their New York home to escape their evil stepmother. The girls change their names, color their hair, and take up a new hobby–solving missing person’s cases. The first book, as well as the rest of the series, can be found on


Loved a Movie? Read the Book

One book and movie sure to inspire is Soul Surfer, the story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton. This memoir follows her incredible journey from the day she comes face-to-face with a 14-foot tiger shark to her awe-inspiring recovery and return to surfing. Watch the movie first or read the book; it doesn’t matter, as long as your teen is engaged in reading.


Get a Driver’s Manual

Most teenagers look forward to driving, but they have to study in order to pass the written exam. Purchase a driver’s manual for your teen to read with you or independently. Reading is reading, in any form!
Turn Off Everything Else with a Screen
Carve out time each evening for reading. Everyone should put down cell phones, turn off the television, iPod Touch, and any anything else that draws attention, except the e-reader, of course! Even 15 or 20 minutes before bedtime is enough time to instill the love of reading.


Relax and Read without Criticizing

During this time, do one of two things: either read silently on your own as a role model or read aloud with your child. Your teen is not too old to read with you. Try not to correct your child’s mistakes or ask too many questions. As soon as kids feel pressured or judged, they’re less willing to read. When your teen begins to associate reading with evening relaxation, he’ll be more likely to read independently and for pleasure later on.


Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., is the founder of Educational Connections Tutoring in Fairfax and Bethesda. Her award-winning book, Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework, she offers proven solutions to help make homework less of a chore for the whole family. Learn more at