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How to help your teen find her literary genre

Julia Christensen is an experienced tutor and professional writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

Encourage a love of reading by helping your teen or tween discover her favorite genre

From The Outsiders to Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, Fahrenheit 451 to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there are many books known for grabbing the minds of a young-adult audience and turning those teens into lifelong readers.

They often express ideas of love, angst, rebellion and responsibility, hitting at topics that come up often during the tumultuous teenage years. However, not everyone is a fan of reading — and often it may be because they are trying the wrong genre. If you feel that your teenage student still hasn't found her literary genre, here are four ways to help her select a style she may adore.

1. Check out her preferred types of entertainment

Is she a horror movie buff? Do her favorite songs touch on social issues or politics? Is she always watching dramatic television shows with constant break-ups and make-ups? Check out some of her current favorites and see how that could translate into literature. There is no limit of topics. So, whether she is more a fan of science or pop culture — or anything in-between — there's likely a book for her.

2. Try sampling books

Remember, you don't need to go out and buy every young-adult sci-fi or historical-fiction book out there just because it sparked her interest. Have her try reading sample pages or chapters online or on an e-reader. If that isn't an option, head to the library or book store and spend a few hours perusing, having her take the time to read at least a few pages of each before making a purchase. She might be able to tell early on if a certain writing style won't keep her interest.

3. Introduce her to a teen book club

Search online or on bulletin boards at your local library for young-adult book clubs. Having a group of like-minded peers to discuss her readings may be more of a motivation to finish a book, and book clubs often touch upon a variety of genres over time. Meeting up with readers in her age range could not only introduce her to potential friends, but others whom she can discuss book recommendations with. If you don't see a local teen book club, talk to someone at your library about starting one, or offer to read the book alongside your student.

4. Lend her your copy of your favorite young-adult book

Maybe you vividly remember reading The Giver or Slaughterhouse-Five. Perhaps The Hobbit changed your adolescence. Tell your student what an impact the book made for you as a teen and see if she'll give it a read. When she finds a personal favorite, offer to read it as well.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit

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