Teen Leisure Reading on the Decline

According to a research brief from Common Sense Media (2014), leisure reading on a daily basis among children and teens appears to be on the decline. Government studies (NCES, 2013) indicate that the proportion of teens who read for pleasure once a week has dropped from 70% to 53% among 13-year-olds and from 64% to 40% among 17-year-olds. The research brief also states that families that encourage time for pleasure reading and offer a text-rich environment in the homes can promote reading achievement and stimulate a life-long enthusiasm for reading. Anita Merina offers numerous suggestions for parents to encourage recreational reading :

  1. Allow children to make smart choices and have a voice in which books they would like to read. Encourage them to explore various genres to determine the types of text they most enjoy.
  2. Consider novels or books that address “hard topics” and offer eye-opening experiences for their children. Different cultures and lifestyles are often addressed for children to recognize and respect the diversities that exist among families, ethnicities, and ethical values.
  3. Use all types and styles of books. Poetry, graphic novels, or classics offer children varied experiences with literature that are entertaining, challenging, and original.
  4. Use social media to explore the possibilities. Parents should scrutinize the various elements of the digital world, but certainly there are applications for on-line reviews of books, chatting opportunities to discuss the material, or e-books that offer young people a connection among others their age who are reading similar material.
  5. Additionally, the research brief encourages parents to either read to their children or manage time in the week for their children to read. Parents can also read some of the books their children read and share some reflections from their reading experiences.

While there are many activities – school, social media, extracurricular activities – that may prevent students from leisure reading, survey results and other research indicate that children who engage in recreational reading continue to be strong lifetime readers. So whether they read graphic novels, e-books, or a diverse array of genres, children who read for pleasure can enjoy a lifetime of entertainment and thoughtful reflection garnered from their reading experiences.

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