How to Help Your Teen Stop Procrastinating and Finish Their Summer Reading with Ease

Does your teen continually put off starting their summer reading?

Does your teen think they have plenty of time and that you are being ridiculous for suggesting getting started on their summer reading? Some teens hate to read and will always avoid it. However, even teens who enjoy books like my kids, sometimes resist reading in the summer. That is exactly why I am going to share my strategies to get your teen reading this summer, minus the stressful battle, from the perspective of a veteran reading teacher, a health coach that helps teens stress less, and most importantly, as a parent in the summer schedule trenches.

Strategies for the Reluctant Readers

The first two strategies may not be necessary for all teens, but if your teen has a learning disability like dyslexia or ADD that makes the activity of reading challenging and stressful, then I would recommend not making your teen go it alone.

Read the Book with Your Teen

  • You read one page, or whatever length feels natural, and then your teen reads the next.
  • Read the book separately, and then plan a time to discuss each chapter or section of the book.

At the end of each chapter or section, discuss the main points and have your teen jot them down in the book, if you own it, or in a notebook. This helps your teen remember what they read and keeps them more focused and engaged while they read because they know they are going to have to come up with a few main points.

Listen and Follow

If your teen is more independent, then purchasing an audio version of the book is a great option. This way your teen can follow along in their book which helps them stay focused and is less stressful if decoding is still a challenge. If you can’t find an audio version of the book your teen needs to read for the summer, then you can look into Learning Ally. Learning Ally is a support system for the blind and dyslexic. The number of books, including textbooks, that are available through them is much larger than something like audible. However, your teen must have a tutor or teacher verify that they have a need for the service. If you feel this would benefit your teen, don’t let this step turn you away. The verification process is short and simple.

Strategy for the Procrastinator

If your teen has no academic struggles, but still leaves their summer reading to the last minute or doesn’t do it at all, then a summer reading schedule will work perfectly. As someone who supports teens in managing their stress better, I know that breaking a large tasks into manageable chunks puts teens at ease, so they can meet their expectations, experience more success and be happy and healthy in school and beyond.

Create a Schedule

Step #1: Determine how many days your teen has to complete their summer reading. Subtract any days that you feel it will be challenging for them to read. For example, if they are going to camp or on vacation, and they won’t have time to read, subtract those days from the total.

Step #2: Add up the total number of pages in all the books they need to read over the summer and divide by the total number of days they have to read the books. This will give your teen a clear number of pages to read each day.

Step # 3: Create a set time to read. If you have a designated time to read each day, then it is easier for your teen to stick to the plan. If they have to decide everyday when they are going to read, then it is easier for it to slip through the cracks.

Step #4: Even with all this in place, periodic check ins are a good idea. You can determine when your teen should finish the first book. Then a week before it should be finished, you can divide how many pages are left to read by 7 and see if they have been staying on track. If they haven’t, then you can temporarily increase the quantity of pages to be read each day so that they finish the book on time.

The benefit of creating a summer reading schedule is that it is broken down into smaller chunks, so it feels easier to get started. Your teen can relax knowing that if they follow the plan, they will be prepared and ready for the first day of school. They won’t have the guilt that they haven’t started yet hanging over their head all summer. They can relax, enjoy their summer and finish their summer reading.

However, I have lived and worked at a middle school for over twenty years, and I know that a teenager is more likely to listen to a teacher, coach or friend than their parent even if they are saying the same thing. If your teen would benefit from support developing healthy habits like reading for the summer, then my Creating Healthy Habits Coaching: Summer Sessions might be the perfect fit for you and your teen. You can learn more about it here.

Originally published at on June 20, 2017.

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