Get Your Teens Off Screens with a Good Book, by Molly Olivo

Girls reading in aisle of books

Photo by Tony Ventouris Photography

Social Distancing is hard for everyone, but especially for teenagers. There is a lot going on in the mind and body of every teenager, and COVID-19 is definitely not simplifying things for them. As much as I know they want to be on Facetime with friends or keeping up with TikTok, we all know that we need to keep those teenage minds engaged in something less... digital. One of the few bonuses of school being canceled is time to read books for pleasure. Below are some ideas to help you encourage your teens to crack a book instead of their phones.

Let them pick their books - I know that most parents are eager for their teens to read the classics, a great work of literature or even their own favorite books, but give them some space to make their own choices. Teenagers have reading preferences just like adults do, and your teen might prefer the action/adventure style over a sweeping lyrical one. Enjoying reading creates life-long readers, so let them read what they enjoy. If you need some options for them, set up a concierge appointment on our website, and we will call and help them find some books that they are excited to read!

Join a digital book club - Your teen might not be able to go out, but it is easy to meet digitally for a book club and get some social interaction, as well as some literary analysis. Many clubs will post a book weekly and then do a Zoom chat or a Facebook thread discussing the book. This is a much better use of screen time than TikTok. ***Shameless plug: Child's Play is hosting a digital book club right now. Follow us on Facebook for more details!*** 

Reinstate family storytime - If you used to read stories to your kids when they were little but stopped at some point, now is the perfect time to start again! Read a family favorite, take turns reading a new book, read the same book and discuss afterwards, tell stories, or answer ridiculous questions (What would you do if you had a tree growing out of your bedroom floor?). It is a great way to relax, get some reading in and keep you all connected in a stressful time.

Listen to a great book outside - Since getting outside into nature has been encouraged, get an audiobook from (which supports Child's Play and has an incredible selection) or through your local library and release your teenager into the wild…or at least into the backyard. They can listen while they wander/roll their eyes/get some fresh air. I highly recommend this for the grown-ups in your household, too. We could all use some fresh air these days.


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