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How can I foster reading motivation in my teenage son?

I am a mother to two school going kids. My younger child, a girl, could not make me prouder. With good motivation to read, her grades are good and her teacher says she is active in class.

On the other end of the spectrum, my teenage son lacks reading motivation. His negative attitude towards books over the years has affected his academic performance. I just cannot get him to commit to studying.

This has concerned me deeply. Are there any motivation steps he can take to improve on his grades?

Alexa Spicer

in Self Improvement

1 answer

1 answer

Chelsea Hayes on March 8, 2018

Lucky for you, your concern has some scientific proof to it. Studies have shown that literacy in young boys lags behind that of young girls. This is as a result of several factors which I will highlight below:

  • Male students tend to take longer to learn new things when compared to their female counterparts.
  • Young boys read less than girls
  • Boys tend to experience difficulties when it comes to understanding explanatory and narrative works.
  • Boys find reading to be very tasking.

Some of the factors that hinder development of the reading culture among young boys are:

  1. Boredom: Young boys are very active. They go for adventure and activities that require use of a lot of energy. Reading is definitely not one of them!
  2. Connection: Young boys find it difficult to connect the content of their reads with the real world or with other characters in the book.


There are strategies you can employ to encourage the reading culture in your teenage son. They include:

  • Providing interesting reading material

Teenage boys tend to have preference genres when it comes to literature. They are more inclined to read humor texts, adventure stories, sports, comic books, graphic novels etc. You ought to get him books and material of this nature in order to kick start his motivation for reading.

  • Try enrolling him in a boy’s only school

I know this may sound a bit strange. However, teenage boys are usually very concerned with what girls think of them. This is particularly significant at this stage since they are going through puberty. Boys may have limited classroom participation arising from a fear of being laughed at when they are asked to read.

Getting him to a boy’s only school will improve his classroom experience thus motivating him to read more.

  • Support what he reads.

If your son prefers reading non-academic material such as comics, newspapers, websites, magazines etc., do not discourage him. Encourage him to read such material more. This is one of the surest steps in motivating him. He will enjoy the reading sessions and definitely desire more.

  • Get him reading material he can relate to

Young boys tend to have good motivations to read books with characters that speak to them. Therefore, get him material that features identifiable characters. This means reading material that depicts relatable households, communities and settings.

Emily Alexandera year ago

Male teenagers are likely to lose their reading motivation because of various distractions available as well as their busy schedule. This is even much likely to occur if they develop the feeling that reading is a school-related chore and not a leisure activity. Luckily, various initiatives can ignite good motivation for the teenager. It is also important for a parent to support whatever the teenager would want to read on their own whether it is academic or not. 

Jessie Thompsona year ago

Wow! What a coincidence! I was in the same predicament a few years ago and was so desperate! The response provided above is so appropriate.

I would like to add more strategies that worked for my son.

Start reading together

Join your teenage son as he reads in order to boost his reading motivation. This will endear him to reading, as he will feel supported in his course. Additionally, by reading together your son will get to understand the difficult areas. This is by seeking clarifications from you.

Carry books for him while on trips

This is essential in making reading seem fun to him. It will break his perception of reading as a serious pursuit. He will view it as a form of recreation thus boosting his motivation for the same.

Make a reading log

This is good in tracking what materials he likes and how much he reads.

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