26 Feb 2013

Help! My Teenaged Son Won't Read!

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Once your son gets to secondary school, you will encounter one of two problems:
1. he stops reading;
This is for those of you with a son who won't read. I'll deal with avid readers - and a longer reading list- in the next post.
Dyslexia
First, you should rule out dyslexia. At worst, this makes words 'jump' all over the page, which is one big reason dyslexics don't like reading. Specialist publishers produce books in dyslexic-friendly format with books that are easy to read, but will hold the interest of a teenager. Find links to these here.
If He Won't Read Fiction
Try non-fiction. Football mad boys can read the sports pages of a quality newspaper (print or online). Those who love science and technology might like the print or online versions of:
How It Works (4) - science and technology focus, lower reading age and less cutting edge than New Scientist. Far easier to understand than most Wikipedia articles on the same topics.
Wired (IT, internet start-up, communications, technology, medicine focus) (5) - very well written (almost literary), funny and interesting news.
New Scientist (5) up to the minute science news with interesting focus articles on various topics - neuroscience, geology, medicine and more.
For those who love fishing, there's an array of fishing magazines, for car fans, try Top Gear. You get the idea.

You can teach comprehension through non-fiction, and it will be just as helpful for the GCSE Language Exam.
1. Ask him to talk to you about what he's read. What was interesting? What did he learn?
2. Cover up the page and ask him to list as many facts as he can remember. You can turn this into a game where you time him, and put him in competition with a brother or sister.
3. Ask him what he thinks the writer's point of view on the topic was. Are they in favour, or against, are they excited - or are they sad, disappointed, nostalgic etc. Ask him to point to the clue words that show the writer's feelings.
4. Ask him if he learned any new words - or if there are any words he doesn't understand. Talk about what it means. If you don't know, look it up together (in a real or online dictionary).
If this sounds too much like 'doing an English lesson', stick to (or start with) 1. and 3. as these will feel more like you're having a chat with him and sharing his interest, and less like you're trying to force him to learn.