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Advice for parents to encourage children and teens reading

Genre: Family, Literature
Age group: 9-11, 12-14, 15-18
Audience: Families

Last updated: 13 February 2024

A young girl lying on the floor of a library reading comics

Whether your child is a keen or reluctant reader, the tips below can help you encourage a lifelong love of reading.

Building a love of reading

Reconnect reading to hobbies and interests

For many young people, as reading becomes linked to exam and school pressures, they can begin to be turned off reading. Refocusing reading as an enjoyable experience, linked to hobbies or interests, will help to counter this.

Find out what your child is currently excited about and if see they might like to read something about that – for example, a "how to" manual or magazine for a current hobby. It is easier to encourage reading on something that already interests them and they are familiar with. Don't try to force young people to read – that's a sure way to associate reading with pressure.

Allow different formats

Here's the key: reading is a habit, and as long as they're in the habit of picking up something to read, it doesn't really matter what or how they are reading. Allow young people to read on an electronic device. They might prefer this format, and many library services offer e-book loans and e-magazines to borrow. Online options are also great for those who love fanfiction. Many parents are worried about screen time, but remember that reading is a habit and for many, reading on a device might be a great place to start. For younger readers, remember you can also read together on an electronic device!

Watch Authors Live events

It can be really exciting and interesting for young readers to watch an event with one of their favourite authors. Events give readers an insight into what the author was thinking when they wrote a book, and can also give keen writers some great advice to use in their own writing. They are also enjoyable to watch together, and a great way to start conversations about books and reading.

Scottish Book Trust's brilliant Authors Live series is now available to watch on our on demand library, and features some of the best UK children's authors and illustrators including Cressida Cowell, Joseph Coelho and Kiran Millwood Hargrave. So get cosy on the sofa together and select an event to watch!

Selecting reading material

Look for books based films and games

Many young people find it challenging to select texts, they can find it hard to know which genre or type of book they would enjoy. If your child has a favourite film, game or television show, look for books based on those. Using books based on existing interests can really help young people identify what they might like to read and gain confidence in selecting books for themselves. Direct them, but ultimately, let them choose what they would like to read themselves.

Download Bookzilla

Bookzilla is an app for upper primary and early secondary school students in Scotland. Young people can receive tailored book recommendations, see what's popular among their classmates and challenge themselves to try something new with a reading dare. The app will also promote different featured collections every month.

Speak to your local librarian or bookseller

Children's librarians and bookseller are hugely enthusiastic and they are fountains of knowledge about the world of children's and teen books. Go and visit your local library, or pop into your nearest bookshop and see if they can point you in the direction of something your child will like. You can find your local library via mygov.scot's webpage of public libraries in Scotland(this link will open in a new window).

Celebrate reading as a social activity

Talk about books and reading

Many people believe that reading is a solo activity, but reading can be a social activity. Letting your child see you reading and talking together about what you are currently reading shows them that you find reading enjoyable and worthwhile and makes it a social activity. Be open about your reading life and the benefits you get from reading. Sharing books and reading experiences can make reading enjoyable and entertaining.

Help them find places to discuss books

As well as speaking together about reading, help them find their own spaces to talk about books, such as Goodreads or #BookTok on TikTok.

If they feel comfortable doing so, encourage your child to speak to their friends or peers about what they are reading. Support them to find spaces such as book groups in your local library where they can get reading recommendations from other young people, and chat about their reading.

Be patient, the right book is out there!

Remember that the right book is out there. Whether its graphic novels, non-fiction, choose your own adventure books, how-to books, magazines or something else, there really is something for everyone in the world of books. Be patient, don't force it, and your children will find something that interests them.