Ask Reading Kingdom: How do I help teenagers learn to read?

To help children learn to read and grow into knowledgeable adults, Reading Kingdom founder Dr. Marion Blank regularly answers questions that relate to children’s literacy and education.  To help your children learn to read and grow, the Reading Kingdom features Reading Kingdom’s educational insight regularly.  Here’s our latest question:

Debra (teacher) asks:

I really need some good suggestions . . . .

How do teachers present basic reading instruction to teenagers who never learned to read? The words would be babyish and phonics might be boring to them unless presented in a way that keeps their attention. Any thoughts? I need to hear them.

Dr. Marion Blank says:

This is an important question and it is one where, as in many situations, honesty is the best policy. I have worked with many students in that age range. At the outset, I tell them, “I am a bit embarrassed to be using this material with you because it was designed for younger children. But even though this program is babyish, it really works.  If you are willing to try it, you’ll know in 6 to 8 weeks if it is working for you. So if you are willing, let’s try it out.” (Then, if you can, video a few of the starting sessions and a few of the sessions a month or two later.  Typically the students are amazed to see the progress – assuming you are using a program that does help.)

Further, you can add. “You know you are not alone. There are many kids of your age who need reading help and once we have the money to do more programs, we are going to create a program that fits your level. In the meanwhile, you can actually help us do that. Every time you finish a book, you can redesign it so that it is more appropriate for a teenager like yourself.” Then provide a list of websites where relevant and sophisticated graphics and photographs can be found. Then using those graphics, the student can copy the text of the book (getting more reading and writing practice) and combine it with graphics that are more appealing and relevant to a teenager.

We hope this helps you with the very significant issue you have raised.”

Dr. Marion Blank, creator and founder of The Reading Kingdom program is happy to answer your questions about reading, education and learning. To leave a question for Reading Kingdom, visit the Reading Kingdom Facebook Page and let us know how we can help.

You can also sign up for a free 30 day trial of the Reading Kingdom online learning program and game to help children and students learn to read.  Lingo and company hope to see you soon!