How To Get Kids Interested In Writing and Reading

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How Elizabeth Van Tassel got her kids to love writing and reading a lot glasses and pen and paper.
How Elizabeth Van Tassel got her kids to love writing and reading a lot glasses and pen and paper.

Tips to help your kids to love reading at a young age, and encourage them to love writing too, with Elizabeth Van Tassel.

I’m often asked about how I helped my sons to love reading and how parents can encourage their kids to love writing. I personally think the two go hand in hand. As a corporate writer for many years, and now venturing into ideas for kids and nonfiction for adults, I’ve had exposure to some great resources I want to share with you today. In this post we’ll cover cultivating a love for reading, creative ways to use audible books, writing contests, and teen book festivals.

Developing a love for reading

In their younger years, I encouraged my kids to read along with audible stories that matched the books they held in their hands. That way, even if a few of the words were a struggle, they’d learn the inflection and sound and, eventually, how to figure out the meaning of the words when reading on a higher level. Some favorites from Audible or other services were Geronimo Stilton and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Many books are available in this format now, thankfully, and I would set up their reading time with books and headphones a couple times per week, and without headphones at other times too.

Now that I have a teen and tween in the house, I’m always on the lookout for good fiction that encourages them and yet is a bit of a stretch once more. We try and alternate screen time for great reading. Maybe the books take them to a foreign country or another land, but that zeal for adventure and imagination is important. As a resilience expert who’s survived hair-raising trials, I know having an imagination helps you recover from real trauma, and have hope beyond today.

Here’s some of my favorite young readers authors. I’d add Shannon Messenger’s great series Keeper of the Lost Cities series for tweens and teens too.

One final thought about audible books – use them on long drives! You have a captive audience. Turn off the videos for a while and it’s amazing when a Narnia Chronicle or other story comes to life when you’re driving by beautiful mountains, snowy areas, or beach sunsets. Share some lovely moments together and then you can discuss what they liked about it too.

Encouraging young writers

The best way I’ve connected with kids is through teaching short classes about specifics in the writing craft, like editing, writing fractured fairy tales, creating food poems, and more. After meeting really great young writers, I’ve gathered tips for diving deep, depending on their level of involvement.

If you have an avid writer in your family, all the websites out there for teens can be a bit overwhelming. But there are many on-line contests and local resources to help. Brock Eastman, a multi-published author who writes several series for Adventures in Odyssey and Clubhouse magazine, as well as other adventure books, is running a great contest for tweens and young teens HERE.

Research teen book festivals in your local area. In San Diego next month, there’s a great writer’s conference called the CCA Writers Conference in its sixth year just for teens. They gather best-selling authors and offer great workshops about the craft of writing and publishing, and even agents to whom you can pitch your work! Click HERE to find out more.

In many areas around the country, Teen Book Festivals are also great ways in a larger setting to meet your favorite author and be inspired to read more. Often kids who love to write get to sit in panel meetings and ask questions of the authors in person. If you’ve wondered what a book festival is like, check out my review of the Ontario Book Festival here:

Finally, if your teen writer is really committed and wants to go the next step, check out a writing conference or on-line writing community like Writer’s Digest. I’ve attended craft-oriented conferences that offer teen tracks at a reduced rate or even with scholarships to encourage young writers. Several colleges also offer writers conferences along with a teen track, where they can hear from professionals in the industry, hone their craft, and pinpoint their own skills and goals for the future.

Some great conferences to check out are: SDSU Writer’s Conference, Write His Answer in Colorado, Christian Writer’s Guild conferences, American Christian Fiction Writers, and more depending on what kind of writing your teen enjoys.

Here on Thorn & Vine, we’ll also be doing guest blog posts and I’d love to hear from your tween or teen about unique or exciting experiences they’ve had or perhaps a challenge they’ve overcome to encourage others along the way. Contact me HERE for more information.

Keep writing and be sure to let me know your favorite resources locally too in the comments below!

Original photo by bugtiger at

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