Research tells us that engagement in reading for pleasure declines in the teenage years. This is largely due to competing interests and a lack of time to allocate for reading books (Merga, 2019a, p.133). Our conversations with students in the iCentre also suggest that these two factors impact the amount they read. Given that they don’t have to attend school and many extra-curricular commitments lessen over the Christmas period, the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to opt into reading. Our avid readers will relish the extra time available and require no encouragement. However, it is also the perfect time for our reluctant readers to take up a book. Experts also tell us that parents who value reading make a real difference in the reading engagement of their children regardless of age (Merga, 2019b, p.60). Below are some tips to assist you when encouraging the teenager in your house to delve into books over the holidays.
The titles below have been purchased in the last twelve months and proved popular with our students. Offer your teen, the opportunity to purchase or borrow one of these freshly published books.
Think about diversity in genre, media, and format.
People are diverse and not everyone likes the same books. If you are trying to find the right reading material to engage your teen, think broadly and investigate a range of genres, medias, and formats. Graphic novels are really popular, and the content contained in these are certainly not limited to tween and middle years readers. There are even several graphic biographies and memoirs on the market that are interesting and inspirational. In our experience, teenagers are also interested in non-fiction topics such as true crime, pop-culture, and political activism. A change in media to eBooks and audio books can also motivate young people to invest time in great stories. Furthermore, young people are highly engaged when reading about diversity in contemporary society. People’s experiences that are different than their own, various cultures, customs, religions, settings and living situations are of high interest to teens (Scholastic, 2019).
Plan an excursion to one of Brisbane’s beautiful independent bookstores or city libraries.
While reading is generally considered a solitary pursuit, we can encourage the young reader’s engagement with books by integrating them into social activities (Daley, 2019, p. 98). Brisbane has some wonderful bookstores and libraries that make for a great holiday outing. Both Riverbend Books at Bulimba and Where the Wild Things Are at West End employ staff who specialise in YA (Young Adult) reading. These stores are also surrounded by cafes to make a morning or afternoon of the outing. The Book Garden at Graceville, Archives Fine Books in the city, and Books@Stones at Stonescorner are other wonderful stores worth a visit. Alternatively, many of Brisbane’s City Council Libraries have wonderful collections to explore. Many of these have café options too if you want to supplement your visit with a cuppa and bite to eat.
Jólabókaflóðið: Books and chocolate on Christmas Eve
Originating in Iceland, the Christmas Eve book and chocolate tradition is becoming a favourite thing to do the world over. The word Jólabókaflóðið translates to book flood and refers to the annual release of new books occurring in the months leading up to Christmas. This is common in publishing internationally, and in Australia we too see a lot of new releases at this time of year. In Iceland these new releases are purchased and given as gifts on Christmas Eve. The tradition extends into the night when Icelanders will curl up with their new books and drink hot chocolate. Book lovers everywhere are starting to adopt this tradition. Coupling books with comfort is a well-recognised strategy for encouraging positive reading attitudes and habits (LaMarca & Macintyre, 2006, p.18) and we highly recommend Jólabókaflóðið as another way to get your teens to opt into reading.
Happy Christmas to everyone and we look forward to catching up with students in the new year to hear all about the books they read over the break.
Daley, M. (2019). Raising readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books. University of Queensland Press.
LaMarca, S. & Macintyre. Knowing readers: Unlocking the pleasure of reading. School Library Association of Victoria.
Merga, M.K. (2019a). Librarians in school as literacy educators. Palgrave Macmillan.
Merga, M.K. (2019b). Reading engagement for tweens and teens: What would make them read more? Libraries Unlimited.
Scholastic. (2019). Kids & families reading report 7th edition. Scholastic Inc.