Star Power:
Reading Role Models for Teens

by Iva-Marie Palmer

Photo credit: Inc, Glow Images/Getty Images

Of all the celebrity gossip in the world, there’s nothing that brings me more joy than seeing a star with their nose in a book.

Though it seems more likely that the paparazzi will catch a celeb on their smartphone than with a paperback or eReader, celebrities do still read. There are even Pinterest boards and devoted to it.

Studies have shown that parents have a huge influence on their kids’ reading habits. (Explained: The more kids see Mom or Dad with a book, the more likely they are to be good readers themselves.) But what holds true in the childhood years doesn’t necessarily apply once kids turn into teens. The glam allure of a celebrity reader might succeed where mom and dad can’t. Here are just a few literary-lovin’ role models for teens.

  • Natalie Portman

    The Harvard grad was once quoted as saying, “I studied psychology in school and the best psychology is in literature.” While she says her favorite book is The Diary of Anne Frank, she’s also admitted to reading 250 Baby-Sitters Club novels.

  • Shailene Woodley

    The reigning queen of film adaptations of young adult books — Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars came out within months of each other — Woodley has admitted she journals and reads poems before bed.

  • Marilyn Monroe

    It might surprise many to learn that Monroe was a huge reader. In fact, she left behind a 400-book library that was no small-potatoes stuff: Milton, Dostoevsky, Whitman, Hemingway, and Kerouac. One of Monroe’s favorite photos of herself is this shot — Monroe caught reading James Joyce when she thought photojournalist Eve Arnold was switching rolls of film.

  • Audrey Hepburn

    The gorgeously gangly actress was once quoted as saying, “If I’m honest, I have to tell you I still read fairy tales and I like them best of all.” She was also famously kind. A reader and a lovely person? Kids don’t get better role models than that.

  • LeBron James

    The since-returned-to-Cleveland point guard uses books as his means to focus before games, even before his NBA Finals winning run with the Miami Heat in 2012. While his selections varied wildly across fiction and nonfiction, it might interest fans to know he had Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy on his reading list.

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt

    The thinking girls’ heartthrob is not only a reader, but a writer and publisher as well. In 2012, he edited the first volume of The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, in which writers were invited to submit (you guessed it) tiny stories told through words and art. He recently helped release the third volume in the series.

  • Jennifer Garner

    Garner’s most frequent photo op seems to be going to or returning from the library with her kids, and her chosen charity events revolve around reading and early education. She also confessed to Oprah that her dream when she was growing up was to be a librarian.

  • James Franco

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, what doesn’t the guy do? Franco has attended two MFA programs, published multiple books, and has even taught college English courses. Fans of his comedy films with actor Seth Rogen might look to the star for reading recommendations.

  • Johnny Depp

    The oddball actor cemented his role as Hunter S. Thompson by devouring the gonzo journalist’s work (and spending a lot of time with him). Depp talks about books as fluidly as some college professors, name-dropping Baudelaire and easily rattling off a reading list while attending a movie premiere. What’s more, his bombshell fiancé, Amber Heard, is introduced in almost every article as a voracious reader.