Ben is a voracious reader. His Kindle stays plugged in and charging beside his bed so that it’s always available when he’s ready for the next great novel. But he often gets stuck in a rut when it comes to choosing which book to read next. Left to his own devices, Ben would read the same authors and genres of books over and over again.
As a mom who also loves to read, who is the daughter of one of the most prolific readers I’ve ever known, it’s important to me that Ben stretch himself in this area. However, until recently, I wasn’t sure of a creative way to do that, except to just create a list of books I thought he should or might like to read (or find such a list online, as I have in the past). He does have a list of classics I expect him to read in high school, but that’s part of his homeschool work. I wanted to offer him ideas for his reading pleasure outside of school time as well.
Then earlier this week I started noticing a few reading challenges popping up in social media (mostly for women), and it got me to thinking. I could create a list of different book topics for Ben, rather than just titles of classics he needs to read before he finishes high school. The list could be fun and somewhat outside the box (kind of like Ben), and hopefully interesting enough that he would want to accept my challenge to read 52 books in the coming year, in addition to what he reads for homeschool. In fact, I let Ben help me come up with ideas so that he would be even more interested.
I thought that perhaps your teens are having some of the same struggles — coming up with ideas for books that will stretch them in new ways. For some of you, just getting your teens to read can be a challenge. So I have created a fun challenge for your teens (and mine) for the coming year. A reading challenge that will really stretch them, if they are brave enough to accept it. One that will make finding great new books to read so interesting and creative that even your reluctant readers may want to jump in!
Reading Challenge for Teens
The following list is in no particular order. You can print off the checklist by entering your email below so that they can keep track when they do find and read a book that fits each description, but let them jump around and read from a topic that interests them. If they can read 52 books in the coming year, what a great accomplishment that will be! To make it more interesting for them, offer a reward if they complete the challenge — something special just for them (cash works well at our house, as do iTunes gift cards, video games, increases in computer time, movie tickets, a pizza party with friends, a favorite gadget . . .). Be creative and use your teen’s interests to guide you.
Here’s the list of ideas Ben and I came up with to help guide your own reading challenge for teens:
- Read one of your parents’ favorite books.
- Read again a book you read when you were younger.
- Read a book set in Africa.
- Read a book about a missionary.
- Read a book recommended by a friend.
- Read a classic book, not required for homeschool (or school).
- Read a book with a one-word title.
- Read a book whose author was younger than 25 when they wrote it.
- Read a book of historical fiction.
- Read an autobiography written by someone you’ve never heard of.
- Read a book that is a travel journal.
- Read a book in which the main character is an animal.
- Read a book in which animals speak.
- Read a book with a giant in it.
- Read a book set in London.
- Read a book about a sports figure or artist.
- Read a book based on true events.
- Read a book that takes place in the Middle Ages.
- Read a book that has a child as the main character.
- Read a book that has a character with a disability of some sort.
- Read a book that involves a flood or other natural catastrophe.
- Read a book whose title contains the name of a city or country.
- Read a book whose setting spans more than one hundred years.
- Read a book that was authored by two people.
- Read a book where one of the main characters is in law enforcement or the military.
- Read a book in which a character is adopted.
- Read a book written by G.A. Henty.
- Read a book that is a compilation of short stories.
- Read a book about someone who signed the Declaration of Independence.
- Read a book that has been translated into another language.
- Read a book with “how to” in its title.
- Read a book that you never thought you would read.
- Read a book where most of the action takes place on an island.
- Read a book that is the first in a series.
- Read a book written in the 1800s.
- Read a book that takes place in the future.
- Read a book that has a cover where the author’s name is written bigger than the title of the book.
- If you’re a girl, read a book with a male protagonist. If you’re a boy, read a book with a female protagonist.
- Read a dystopian novel.
- Read a book with a color in the title.
- Read a mystery novel.
- Read a book that’s been made into a movie.
- Read a book in which something happens that could never happen in real life.
- Read a book written by C.S. Lewis.
- Read a book that is a biblical allegory.
- Read a book that contains time travel.
- Read a book of poetry.
- Read a book of mythology.
- Read a book that has more than 500 pages.
- Read a book that was the winner of the Newbery Medal.
- Read a book that is set during a war.
- Read a book that fits in at least 3 of the above categories.
There’s no pressure here. Even if your teens only choose to read a handful of new books in the coming year, they will have stretched themselves and hopefully found some new and exciting books to read! You may even want to offer some incentives for reading a partial list, especially for your reluctant readers.