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Encouraging Your Teen to Read

By Michelle Glasgow, Cambridge-Isanti Curriculum Coordinator

When my children were young, I frequently encountered articles reminding me it was important to read with my children, make books accessible in our home, and model reading in front of my kids. Once they entered their middle and high school years, my focus moved from building a love for reading to simply completing homework. Sadly, it never went back to that reading focus.

My kids learned to read words and comprehend. I don’t know if any of the three picked up a book for fun the rest of their high school careers. This saddened me, because I love to read. I read as part of a book club with friends. I listen to recorded books on my commute. I read books that our middle school and high school teachers are using in their classes.

The question I want to answer today is: “What can we do as adults to encourage the love of reading in our middle and high school kids?”

Here are three ways that may work (I am not promising anything):

Talk about books.

Tell kids about books that you’ve read, both the books you love and the ones you don’t. Tell them why you liked them and why you didn’t like them. Kids may still like the book or the topic you were reading about even if you didn’t. When I was teaching, a favorite activity of mine was a book share. At the end of reading time, we would stand up and a couple kids would tell us about a book that they were reading that we might find interesting. Try to recreate this at home. Instruct your kids to let you know when they’ve read a good book. Have them tell you about it.

Don’t forget about informational text (or nonfiction).

Each and every one of us has a topic (or eight) that we are really interested in. When I read something interesting in the newspaper, or online, that I think one of my kids will be interested in, I share it with them. Talk about the article together. Remember, as adults, the majority of the reading we do is informational, whether it be a bill (sadly) or an email.

Make books available.

Technology can be key in this endeavor. I read (and listen) to books on my phone. Many older kids have phones and can take advantage of reading apps. I always use the app that came with my phone and pay to read a book, but there are also free books available on most apps.

Another place to score free books is the school media center. Media specialists and teachers have spent a lot of time curating a collection of books that they think will interest kids.

Another fun option now available to Cambridge-Isanti students is Sora. To use this book borrowing system, follow these directions: 

    1. Go on our district website, and click on “Staff/Student Portal” in the top right corner. 
    2. Kids will have to sign in with their district email address. This brings you to the Clever page. 
    3. Click on the “Sora by Overdrive.”
    4. Shop books from Cambridge-Isanti Schools, or search for books through the East Central Regional Library. This drop down is located under the word “Explore” on the upper left hand corner. The East Central digital library card is set up for all of our students. Find some good books that interest you, and enjoy reading!!


This, by no means, is an exhaustive list of ways to encourage reading. Please share any ideas that you use to get kids reading.

“If you enjoy reading something, read it.” 

-S.E. Hinton (author of “The Outsiders” which she wrote when she was 15 and sold at 17) 

Michelle Glasgow, Curriculum Coordinator