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Encouraging Literacy for Teenagers


As children grow and become teenagers, we assume that since they have already learned how to read, as parents, our job in encouraging their literacy skills is complete.  We take for granted that the schools have done their jobs and our children have the skills to succeed in high school and beyond.  


However, this is not always the case. Just because a child can read a text seemingly without difficulty does not mean that the child comprehends what they are reading.  Many children are familiar enough with vocabulary and phonics that they can read textbooks fluently, but do they really understand what they are reading?


As parents, there are many things that we can do with our teenagers at home to increase their vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension.  Many of these activities are easy to fit in with normal family time and the skills learned can easily carry over to the classroom.


Here are some tips:

  • When you are at the dinner table or in the car, ask your teenager about what they are reading in their classes.  Have them describe stories to you and ask their opinion on what they have read.  This helps them organize the story in their head and analyze the material.
  • Based on your teen’s interests, suggest various types of books they can read.  If your son is interested in anime, point them in the direction of graphic novels.  If your daughter enjoys watching shows like Pretty Little Liars, introduce her to the books that inspired the show.  
  • Help your teenager learn to question what they read and hear.  Teach them that not everything they see and hear is true and accurate.  When you have a conversation with your teen about sources of information, you are helping them to understand an author’s bias and decide if they think the source is reliable.
  • Encourage your teen to discover their creativity.  Encourage them to keep a journal, write stories, and poetry as a way to deal with the challenges of being a teenager.  If they are musically inclined, encourage them to write songs as a way to express themselves.
  • Let your teenager teach you something.  Whether it be something they learn in class or their special cookie recipe, when teens are teaching something to someone else, they are reinforcing the information in their own minds.

When children are young, it is frequently said that parents are a child’s first and most important teachers.  However, that does not end once they enter elementary school.  It is a lifetime job.  During middle and high school, children have so many textbooks to read, they forget that reading can be fun!  Remind them of the enjoyment of reading!


For more information about Calvary University’s Family Literacy Program, check here.