6 Facts About Teens and Reading (Plus Some Cool Recommendations!)

Developing a teen’s love of reading and engaging their literacy skills can be tricky. With online streaming, video games, and after-school activities, teens often find it difficult to count books as their main choice of entertainment. Looking to change your teen’s (and your!) mindset? We can help! Read on to learn about ways to draw your teen back to books.

All Reading is ‘Good’ Reading

               As we grow older, the emphasis to read ‘quality’ books grows stronger. But teens don’t have to read classics to boost their literacy skills. To guide your teen back to books, emphasize that any form of reading counts. Whether that’s closed captions on a TV show or a short comic book, all practice is good practice.

Graphic Novels/Manga

Do you cringe when your teen is reading a graphic novel? Did you know that graphic novels contain complex narratives that teens can interpret? Thanks to the graphics, teens can infer character’s thoughts and motivations through both text and images. This makes graphic novels as challenging as any other book! If your teen enjoys watching anime, consider guiding them to read manga. Many have been adapted into anime shows.

Recommendation: ”Demon Slayer” by Koyoharu Gotogue


Unconventional Narrative

Unconventional narratives feature more readable stories with the same complexity in narrative structure.  This could be done through journal entries, letters between two or more people, or group texts.  A book such as “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” by Holly Jackson is a good example. This books follows a thriller/podcast structure and offers fun alternatives to traditional stories.

Recommendation: ”Sadie” by Courtney Summers



We’re here to tell you: audiobooks do, in fact, count as reading. For teens with learning disabilities, audiobooks are ideal.  Readers can listen along as they follow the text of the book. The voice acting can help struggling readers better understand a character’s motivations, too. We offer a variety of ways to listen to audiobooks, so be sure to stop in with your teen to browse or search our catalog HERE.

Recommendation: ”Concrete Rose” by Angie Thomas


Watch it … and then talk about it!

If your teen cannot be drawn away from the TV, consider sitting down next to them! All TV shows and movies start as screenplays, which are works of literature. So sit down, watch something, and talk about what you thought. Believe it or not, this works the same analytical part of your brain as reading a book!

Recommendation: ”Princess Mononoke



You can read, too!

If your teen is competitive, consider trying a book challenge. Starting a book challenge with your teen can motivate both of you to get reading. Not the competitive type? Having a partner in crime lessens the pressure of having to read, but keeps your teen engaged with you and the joy of reading. Consider teaming up with your teen to help them complete UMFPL’s 100 Books before Graduation Challenge and get reading!

We hope these ideas bring a bit of excitement to your teen’s literacy journey. Remember the key is to keep it enjoyable. If your teen tries something they don’t like, it’s okay to move on. Looking for more ways to support your teen’s reading adventures? Check out our Teen Zone in-person or online!

Lily Reilly

Assistant Librarian