It’s during secondary school that young adolescents build the foundation for lifelong reading habits. They develop their own reading interest and learn to read different kinds of text – information articles and books, poetry and plays, as well as stories and novels. They increase their vocabulary by reading widely and they begin to use reading to help answer important questions about themselves and the world. On the other hand, for many young adolescents, reading difficulties go hand-in-hand with social and emotional problems. It is important for you to keep your child reading through the adolescent years, both at school and at home.
These are some suggestions that made a difference to my children:
- Made sure my home had lots of reading materials that were appropriate for my children: Reading materials don’t have to be new or expensive. I often found good books and magazines for my children at library sales. I gave them books and magazine subscriptions as gifts for birthdays or other special occasions. I made sure to set aside quiet time for family reading. Even today we enjoy reading aloud to each other, with each family member choosing a book, story, poem or article to read to the others.
- Encouraged my children to use the library: Took my adolescents to the local library and helped them get their own library cards. I would ask the librarians to help them locate different areas in the library which included using the card catalogues or computer system to find material suited to their interest.
- Was a positive role model for reading: In my opinion it is important that you let your child see you reading for pleasure as well as for performing your routine activities as an adult – reading letters, recipes, directions and instructions, newspapers, computer screens and so forth. I would go with them to the library or bookstores and check out books for myself. It was crucial for me that my teens saw that reading was important for me due to which even they decided that it was important for them.
- Found out from my children’s teacher how they encouraged or taught reading: Made it clear to the teachers that I valued reading and that I supported homework assignments that required my children to read. Asked for lists of books for my kids to read independently at home.
- Found out how to help my children since their language was not English: When my children first entered primary school, I told the teachers the things I was trying to do at home to strengthen their reading. With time and consistent efforts, both my children could switch back and forth between languages.
- Got help for my children when they had a reading problem: When a child is having reading difficulties, the reason might be simple to understand and deal with. For examples, both my daughters had trouble seeing and needed glasses. Sometimes kids may need more help with reading skills. Some causes for reading difficulties signal larger problems, perhaps a learning disability. As a parent and a teacher, I knew that if any or both of my teens had some kind of physical or learning problem, it was important to approach an expert and get help quickly.