MyTutor for Parents

How to get your teen into reading this summer – and 10 books to get them started

· July 20, 2023

Summer is the perfect time for your teen to relax and recharge. And the break from the school routine also opens doors for them to learn things they wouldn’t during term time.

Reading is a great way to spark their curiosity and build their love of learning – but getting them to pick up a book can be an uphill battle. If nagging your teen to read more sounds familiar, we’ve got a few ideas on how you can get them into summer reading…

1. Don’t force certain books – help them tap into their interests

You know the score – if your teen feels made to do something, it’s approximately 100 times harder to get them to do it. So, rather than forcing the classics on them, help them discover the right reading level and encourage them to read what excites and interests them.

They might love history, so historical fiction is a great place to start, or if your teen’s into gaming, try gaming magazines. Graphic novels and anime are also popular with teens. Just ask them what they’re into and let them choose their own summer reading list.

2. Encourage them to join a summer reading club

Reading can feel lonely, but it doesn’t have to be that way! If your teen is into the idea of reading as part of a group, they could pick a book with a couple of friends, and discuss it with them in their own book club over the holidays.

3. Take them to a library or cool bookshop to help them choose

Sometimes, being surrounded by books and seeing exciting covers can inspire your teen to pick up a book or two. To help encourage them to read, you can have an exciting reading list at hand. And if you’re still not sure where to start, you can ask the librarian or a sales assistant for ideas that link to your teen’s interests. 

The great thing about borrowing books from a library is that your teen can try lots of options, and if they’re not into a book they’ve picked, they can move on to the next.

4. Help them explore different reading formats

It might be time to re-think what reading looks like. Lots of teens are reading on their phones these days (and you probably are too). They might be put off carrying a book and would happily read on their phone or tablet instead. 

If they’ve got a Kindle app, they can download free samples and find out if they’re into the book before they buy it. Audiobooks might also work better for them – especially if they’re dyslexic – and they can still help build up their vocabulary, knowledge and love of stories.

5. Lead by example and read together

If you’re not reading at home, your teen might be wondering why they should do it. We’re not suggesting you crack out the Tolstoy and make a big show of it. But simply reading the paper or doing a little summer reading of your own and bringing up interesting topics you’ve come across, could help ignite their own interest. 

If there’s a novel or biography that you really love, seeing you get excited about it can get them wondering what the fuss might be about. Then there’s a good chance they’ll see reading as a normal part of life – rather than more cruel homework.

10 books that are perfect for the summer holidays

Need a little extra inspiration? The MyTutor team have picked 10 of their favourite books to get them started this summer:

Summer reading

1. In the Shadow of the Wolf Queen by Kiran Milwood-Hargrave 

If your teen likes fantasy and wants to get hooked on a series, this is the perfect read. Set to be the new young adult series, this is the first part of a bewitching new trilogy, featuring the reclusive Ysolda who is launched into a dangerous rescue mission. The author has already written three stand-out books (including The Mercies) so there’s no risk of this being a flop.

Summer reading

2. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Staub

For teens who struggle to get into a book, you can’t go wrong with the iconic Stephen King. He knows a thing or two about keeping readers turning the page and The Talisman (co-written with novelist Peter Staub) is no exception. Written from the perspective of 12-year-old Jack who lives alone in a deserted coastal town, he meets a stranger and embarks on a journey to a parallel world to help save his mother.

Summer reading

3. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

If your teen is a budding young activist, this is a must-read for them. Bringing together a collection of Greta Thunberg’s most influential speeches, this little book imparts some big messages driving the key conversations around global climate change.

Summer reading

4. All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown

Books are a great way for teens to learn about relationships and friendships, and this fantastic debut from Erik J. Brown combines a queer love story with a post-apocalyptic thriller. Two boys escape the many dangers unleashed after the Superflu wipes out most of humanity. A little close to home? Yes. Thrilling and un-put-downable? Also yes. 

Summer reading

5. Perfectly Weird, Perfectly You by Dr Camilla Pang

Whether your teen loves science, is neurodiverse or just curious about themselves, this book offers an eye-opening and essential guide to understanding human emotions. Diagnosed with autism when she was 8, Camilla saw the world differently, and she uses science to translate ideas that she could understand like gravity and algorithms into things she couldn’t like peer pressure and finding your voice. Perfect summer reading.

Summer reading

6. Persepolis I & II by Marjane Satrapi 

For something more visual, try introducing your teen to graphic novels. Persepholis is a great entry point as it is beautifully illustrated and tells an amazing story – the memoir of Marjane’s life in Tehran from 6-14 years old. She sees the overthrow of Iran’s last emperor and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. It paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran.

Summer reading

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Some stories are so universally compelling that it’s impossible to put them down, and this is one of them. Now an international bestseller (having sold 17 million copies), The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany during World War II. It tells the story of a young German girl who steals books, her family and the Jewish boxer hidden in their basement.

Summer reading

8. Frankly in Love by David Yoon 

A modern love story, this book explores racism, adolescence and offers an insight into Korean-American culture – when Frank and Joy agree to pretend to date each other to please Frank’s parents. Beloved by Jodie Picoult and compared to the Netflix hit, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, young romantics will love this one.

Summer reading

9. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

If your teen gets easily distracted, this book packs a punch and is impossible to put down – ideal for summer reading. It takes place over just 60 seconds, the time it takes 15-year-old Will to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the boy who killed his brother, as he journeys down in an elevator. It’s a life-changer. 

Summer reading

10. The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

Fictional podcasts are also a great way for your teen to engage with and listen to amazing stories. This one follows a group of friends led by Mars Patel as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of several of their school friends. It also features a talented cast of young actors and amazing sound design to keep them enthralled.

When it comes to summer reading, the key thing is to let them lead the way and follow whatever makes them curious, excited and interested. Otherwise, those books might just sit on their bedside table collecting dust. 

But, when they’ve found a match – whether it’s a classic novel, graphic novel or fictional podcast – it can open up a whole new world and teach them about everything from culture to vocabulary at the same time.

Want to carry on their learning across the summer? Find the right tutor for them here.

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