7 Ways to Motivate Students to Read


readEven with the Internet, smart phones, video games, movies and television, reading is one of the most popular and pleasurable pastimes for children and adults. Still, not all young people enjoy or value the experiences that can be had via the printed page. For parents, finding ways to get your teen to engage with written material can be a challenge, and getting those same students to develop a reading desire of their own can feel nearly impossible.

Motivating anyone to want to read is as much an art as it is a science, and even if you have training as a reading specialist it can still be difficult. If you’d like to instill a love of reading in your teen, here are seven tried-and-true ways to create the reading spark and motivate students to read.

1. Building Students’ Self-Confidence and Self-Efficacy

For some students, reading is a challenge that may have been, or still might be, a source of shame. For a less-advanced reader, spend time building their confidence. Let them know that reading isn’t about measuring up, but that even if it were, you’re convinced they’d pass muster. A belief in one’s own self-efficacy is necessary before a child can put effort toward something. As long as your student doesn’t believe they can read well, they won’t be motivated. Working with your student to master the skills of reading will also enable them to enjoy it.

2. Build Connections

Choose books and reading materials whose topics build bridges and connections with your student’s personal life. Your student has realities at home and at school that are probably wonderfully addressed in stories or essays somewhere. Find them, and encourage them to read about them.

3. Build Textual Variety

There are so many ways to read! From graphic novels and comic books to weekly magazines like Weekly Reader when they were younger, illustrated stories and biographies, you can build a variety of readable genres for your student to explore. When they see that reading is more than just black on white, their curiosity will come alive.

4. Increase Their Choices

When students have a choice of what to read, they can find ways to make deeper and more meaningful connections with the materials they choose. To that end, make sure you can supply every literary genre either by downloading books on an tablet, or by visiting a public library.

5. Build Excitement

Find the places of passion, and feed that passion with reading materials. Invite them to discuss and write about how their experiences of reading do and don’t relate to their own experiences in the world.

6. Promote Conversation

While it can be a challenge to carry on a discussion about a book with your student, it can be a tremendous experience for both of you. Ask questions about the reading that build empathy and invite reflection, and ask them questions about their reading based on the tenants of the SA

7. Share Your Own Love of Reading

Perhaps the most salient motivator of all is your own love of reading. Tell stories of narratives and memoirs that impacted you and why. If you adequately display your own deep affection for reading, it can leave an indelible mark on the students you seek to inspire.

Reading is a skill whose necessary and practical application can sometimes get in the way of its ability to provide pleasure. If you’re a parent who values your students’ reading experiences, it’s worth the effort to motivate them to develop a desire for it. Whether “Island of the Blue Dolphins” or “Diary of Anne Frank,” the written word, at times, invites readers into a stunning world, and all people should have the opportunity to visit.


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