Teen Reading: How to Help My Teenage Reader

Some teenagers have difficulty understanding what they read because they don't find it interesting and rush through it. If you want to help your teen improve reading skills at home, use the following techniques to appeal to his or her interests.

Find available tutors

Help for Teenage Readers


If your teen is having trouble following the plot of a story, use summaries and comprehension questions. Although it might help, you don't necessarily have to read the same text to engage in these activities. Depending on how difficult the text is, have him stop after reading a few pages and retell what he just read. The summaries don't have to be long; however, he should be able to identify the main events in the story.

If your teen's teacher has provided comprehension questions to go along with the text, encourage him to review the questions before reading so that he knows what to look for. If no comprehension questions were provided, then come up with your own. Ask questions like, 'How does this chapter relate to the central theme of the story?' or 'What changes have you noticed in the characters since the beginning of the story?'

Sometimes, literature doesn't appeal to teens because they can't relate to the characters. If your child understands the plot, but is simply uninterested and unmotivated to continue reading, help him make personal connections to the text. Begin by asking opinion questions, such as, 'What do you think of the story so far?' Remember, it's okay if he says he doesn't like it. Just make sure he backs up his opinion with specific evidence.

Ask him questions that challenge him to draw connections between the story and his life. Do any of the characters remind him of someone he knows? Is there a situation in the book that makes him recall a situation he's experienced or seen? Look for universal themes, like jealousy or ambition, and use them to draw parallels between the story and your teen's life.


Reading nonfiction is different from reading literature because it tends to be more fact-based. First, help your teen identify her purpose for reading the material. Perhaps it's research for a paper. For all nonfiction pieces, your teen should be thinking about whether she agrees with the author or not.

Because nonfiction writing can be dry and didactic compared to literature, it may also be more difficult to understand. Encourage your teen to take notes while reading. This will keep her actively engaged and may even help her finish faster because she won't be distracted.

Afterward, help her consider how the text relates to real life. Look for newspaper articles that have a similar topic. For instance, if your teen is reading a physics textbook, you might look for articles on new research that's being done in the field. If she's reading about social studies, look for recent political events that parallel those she's reading about. If she sees that schoolwork relates to the real world, then she may become more interested and engaged in reading.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Reading to the Beat: Books for Teens that Celebrate Music

    Young adult literature is full of novels that celebrate music, whether your teen is interested in classical, rock, hip-hop or any other genre. In novels such as those discussed here, teens discover the power of music, which can bring people together, heal emotional wounds and help unlock mysteries.

  • More Blog Articles
    Can Reading Bridge Racial, Socioeconomic Gaps?

    Study after study shows the achievement gap in education between students of different cultures and economic backgrounds. Recently, two New Jersey schools successfully used literature to show students how 'the other half lives'. Can this experiment be a model for other schools to use books to bridge racial and socioeconomic...

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth