How to Get Young People Reading

Improving young peoples prospects for the future.

“woman reading a book while sitting on black leather 3-seat couch” by iam Se7en on Unsplash

Often in the classroom, I meet young people who cannot or will not read. This reluctance stretches as far as their GCSE textbooks.

My students are eager to watch the film but, refuse the book. Any bookworm will know that this is a different experience completely. How can you teach a young person to analysis text if they refuse to read?

This love of reading needs to be established early. If a child is a reader from birth, in later life this will not be an issue.

1 — Be a Positive Role Model

Whether you are a parent or a teacher you can role model positive behaviour. My childhood memory of my Mum is of her having a book in her hand. As children, she was always reading to us. A day treat would be a trip to the library with a picnic. My mum was pretty liberally and we were encouraged to read what we wanted. I was young when I started reading the books my mum did. She would give me the book and as I read it chat to me about the story and what I thought. She was teaching me to analysis text at an early age. This relationship has continued into my adult life. There is a constant stream of books flying back and forward between us. We still spend a large part of our life talking about books.

I read to my little girl every night. She constantly sees me with a book in my hand. The result of this is even at 1 she is obsessed with books. She is always surrounded by books, looking through them and interacting with them.

If you read one book a night to your child in 5 years they will have read 1825 books.

2 — Allow Children To Build Their Own Reading Tastes

Although it is lovely to swap books between my mum and me, there are areas we have different tastes in. I have a love of Dystopian, which she does not. Even though I was allowed as a child to build my own tastes around books. I was encouraged to try new books and see if I liked them. Children should be allowed to build their own tastes in reading.

An encyclopaedia is as good to read as Harry Potter.

A magazine and newspaper are as good to read as a novel.

3 — Use Technology To Your Advantage

Young people love technology. I’m not telling you anything new here. However, this can be used to your advantage. There are so many applications that allow reading to happen on your gadgets. I have to admit to a love of books, I collect them, I collect too many of them. I still have a kindle though, for convenience more than anything. If your child is obsessed with technology then allow them to read on their gadgets. Graphic novels are majestic on iBooks.

4 — Embrace Difficulties

As a teacher of young people excluded from school, I understand the pressure to read when you can not. Dyslexia affects 1 in 10 people. Dyslexia does not, however, have to stop you reading. There are many aids to help with this, many young people benefit from a colour overlay on their page. It stops the words moving. We are all individual and the colour that should be used is different for all. There is a test that identifies the correct colour overlay, which is cheap.

If this still doesn’t help with reading then introduce the young person to audiobooks. I can’t get on with audiobooks but, many of my friends love them.

A method I use with my GCSE class is to allow them to watch the movie and then ask them to read the book. If a young person is new to reading, it is easier for them to start whilst knowing the plot of the story. This helps them keep up with the story.


It is no coincidence that the day you register your child you receive a free book. Research has shown the importance of reading in all aspects of your life. As a writer, it is essential to read the works of others. It improves vocabulary and dialogue as well as allowing you to see how others plot a story.

If you could recommend one book to read, what would it be?

Every Child Matters is an online magazine. Here you will get access to technical articles on teaching, working with SEND and strategies to improve development. In addition to this, it will provide a parents view of special educational needs. You can also join us on Facebook for chat and additional help or follow my parenting journey on Twitter.

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