Fun ideas for engaging young adults in reading

In a world where we have smartphones that can do virtually anything, it’s no wonder most young adults lose interest in reading. However, it is possible to get young adults engaged in picking up a book outside of required classroom reading.

Almost all teens and young adults have someone they look up to.

A comedian, an actor, favorite sports player, musician, the list goes on. Find books that have been written about your teen’s favorite actor and introduce those books to your reader. After they’ve read those books, have your young adult look up the books that have been written BY those same people. Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, Slash, and Michael Jordan are all authors that may be interesting to young adults.

Does your teenager want to be a lawyer? A scientist? A boat’s captain? What’s his or her favorite subject? Bring home a book on something that they’re passionate about and I bet they won’t put it down. Even if they are in the “I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up” phase, with the dozens of shelves available in the library, there will surely be something that will spark their interest.

Travis, our son, was fascinated by anything related to WWII. The more pictures, the more he enjoyed the book. He was a very good reader, but liked the old black and white war pictures best. Now, our grandson, Kody, is the same way. He devours WWII books with lots of pictures. And by the way, Kody is not Travis’ son, he’s Jessica’s teen.

Many movies are adapted from books and vice versa. 

Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, Little Women, Matilda, and The Fault in Our Stars are all examples of movies with books. Are your children more into action and superheroes? Either way, there is an endless list of comic books that inspired the Spiderman, Marvel, and Star Wars movies. Comic books may be more interesting to some kids than an actual book and they’re a great way to get into reading and opening the imagination.

Depending on the age of your young adult, introduce them to a good mystery or thriller. Teenagers tend to not read above their reading level the way younger children do. Challenge your teen’s brain with a good crime story. Some classic authors span multiple generations. Stephen King, James Patterson, John Grisham, and Lee Child are just a few examples. Obviously, some books are more suitable for older young adults. But chances are you have read at least one book by these authors and can use good judgement when introducing them to the next generation.

Include Friends 

As a teen, our daughter, Jessica, told me that the most important thing in the world was hanging out with friends. Reading is a solitary activity. So books were many times left behind. However, Jessica read anything her friends were reading. They shared books such as R.L. Stine and Shel Silverstein.

I’ll never forget the excitement that our granddaughter, Crystal, showed with Lemony Snicket books. She freely offered them to loved ones. Crystal wanted everyone to have the same love and excitement that she enjoyed.

Then there was the time that Crystal exclaimed, “Granny!  Did you know that Phaedra is reading books? Phaedra! She reads them on her phone!” Phaedra is one of Crystal’s younger siblings.

Audio Books are a good option to get young adults reading.

For us, long car trips always involve audiobooks. When my kids or grandkids traveled with us, we could not wait to get back into the car, after a night in a hotel, so we could hear the next chapter. And sometimes, at the end of a day’s drive, we had to drive around or sit in the parking lot because we couldn’t bear to turn the story off. Now, our daughter, Jennifer, and her kids read books on their phones, while they travel, because not everyone wants to read the same book.

Finally, change up the way your teen is exposed to books. It’s no surprise that with their phone or tablet always in hand, they may not want to pick up a physical book. But that’s OK! Audiobooks are available for almost any book. And can be accessed through a paid subscription like Audible or for free through your local library. This gives them the opportunity to explore more topics if they don’t have the time to get to a bookstore or library. And they still look cool walking around with their earbuds in 🙂