My 15-year-old son used to be an avid reader when he was younger, but since secondary school has completely turned off from reading. Are there any books or things that I can do to engage him into reading again?
I get asked this question a lot in my job and it’s not just boys that fall into this category as more often I‘m also being asked how to encourage teenage girls to read too.
The thing, I think, is to always think about the individual rather than putting them into a pigeon hole or group. Although it’s easy to list a whole number of great books that ‘reluctant boy readers’ might enjoy it’s also about understanding the type of reader your son is and his interests. On top of this it’s also worth thinking about the types of things that he is reading.
Creating a reading environment at home is really important, try not to pressurise him into reading, make it his decision because he wants to read. You can do this by having books around the house, by regularly talking about reading with and around him. If he’s interested in gaming then maybe something that is structured like a game might appeal to him, something like the novelisation of the popular game Assassin’s Creed by Oliver Bowden for instance.
He might enjoy graphic novels or Manga, which are a longer format of a comic books and a Japanese comic book, respectively. Although you may think comics are just caped heroes there are plenty out there that deal with all sorts of issues such as Palestine by Joe Sacco or Epileptic by David B, both artistically stunning but with engaging stories too.
If he is a reader that enjoys the familiarity of series books then are some really good series that he might enjoy. Books such as the TimeRiders series by Alex Scarrow might appeal if he likes the idea of time travel or the Jamie Johnson series by Dan Freedman if he likes football.
At the moment there are a number of exceptionally good authors dealing with real life teenage issues, books such as Heroic, Being Billy and Saving Daisy by Phil Earle alongside Keren David’s When I was Joe could entice him back into books.
Talk to him though about his reading, understand what things he might be interested in as well as the types of books he might to read. Make them available for him and help him rediscover the enjoyment that he had in books when he was younger.