Every little bit of reading counts.

How Much Should a Teen Read?

by Nadine Smith

A study conducted at the University of Minnesota argues that the amount of time spent reading matters. Children who read for 40-minute intervals showed significantly greater improvement in vocabulary acquisition than those who only read for 15 minutes. Quantity is just as important as quality when it comes to reading, but how can you get your teen to open a book when she is likely to spend an average of eight hours a day on electronic devices, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation survey? Teens can learn to make the time to read, and technology can help.

1. A Daily Activity

Reading should be a daily activity. Teenagers will improve their literacy skills the most if reading is a habit. In addition to reading homework assignments, teens need to read for pleasure, or they will never desire higher literacy goals such as expanded vocabulary and improved grammar. Reading a magazine on the bus, a novel before bed and even the newspaper during breakfast are all ways to incorporate more reading into a teen's busy schedule.

2. A Variety of Genres

Don't despair if your teen isn't interested in classic literature. Other genres and formats offer literary challenges too, such as newspaper and magazine articles. The more variety the better. If comic books pique your young adult's interest, find a local graphic novel store and let him pick out some to read. A vast array of intelligent blogs on topics from politics to culture to entertainment exist at your teen's fingertips online.

3. A Variety of Levels

Your teen doesn't have to stick to young adult fiction. Reading above one's grade level enhances reading comprehension. Adult novels containing appropriate content for teens can expand their vocabularies and challenge them on subjects they might not be familiar with. Your teen might surprise you and find the adult aisle at the library more interesting. Some teens might find young adult fiction condescending or juvenile.

4. Reading and Technology

Don't take away your teen's tech devices to get them to read more. Instead, encourage them to use their e-reader, tablet or mp3 player to read electronic books or listen to audio books. Teens love to multitask with their portable devices, and listening to a book while looking at photos or skimming a book in another window in between text messages is another way to help them increase the total word count read every day. Even 10 extra minutes of reading per day can vastly improve a student's academic achievements.

About the Author

Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.

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