10 Things Parents can do to Encourage Reading in Middle School

Why is it important that my middle schooler reads?

Research has shown that sometime in middle school, students stop reading for recreation. Why is it important to get your middle schooler to keep reading? Students who read have a much higher vocabulary, do well in classes, obtain the knowledge base to handle more complex ideas and have a larger knowledge base for a variety of topics. According to Peggy Gisler and Marge Ebert, it also improves their performance on the verbal section of college entrance exams. “No other activity builds the vocabulary and comprehension skills needed to do well on these tests as well as reading.”

In comparison, students who do not read tend to struggle in school, need remedial classes in college, get frustrated in classes and often give up on their goals.

How can you get your middle schooler to read more?

1. Support them in their reading. We want them to read books at or above their reading level. A book that will challenge them. However, an occasional book that might be just below their reading level is okay…key word occasional.

2. Let them see you reading. When parents read, their children knows that they value reading. Then the love of reading is passed on from the parents to the children. So, read more in front of your children. Set up a time where everyone in the house reads for enjoyment. (DEAR time … Drop Everything and Read)

3. Talk to them about the book(s) they are reading. Conversations about books give students a deeper understanding of the text, but it also increases their verbal skills. Not only that, but it is a great conversation to have with your student! It lets them know that you really care about what they read.

4. Take them to the library. Whether it is the public library or the school library, take them. Encourage them to check out books that they enjoy, and at least one non-fiction. This summer we will have Summer Reading Fun again at Awtrey. I encourage parents to come with their students.

5. Read with your student. Reading something that interests you both, a magazine or newspaper article will ensure that your student is not only reading, but learning how to read orally with inflection in their voice. (My son and I read in the car every morning…I drive and he reads.) It is also great bonding time!

6. Play games that will improve their use of words and vocabulary. Boggle, Scrabble and other word games (that have been around since before I was in middle school) are great. But you can also challenge them to some of the newer digital games like TextTwist and Words with Friends. (There are tons of apps and games out there.)

7. Have them read to someone. A younger sibling or a grandparent will enjoy the time spent with a middle schooler reading to them!

8. Publish their thoughts. Give your student the ability to write about the book and what they thought. There are many outlets for that. From a site that sells the book (like Amazon) to the site Good Reads, students can type what they thought of the book or series. Parents, please make sure you approve what your minor child posts online. We also have quite a bit of opportunities for students to share what they think about a book throughout the year in the CLC.

9. Listen to audio books in the car. Before leaving on a long road trip choose a family friendly book everyone will enjoy. Then have them unplug from their devices and listen to the audio book together. While you’re listening, pause occasionally to discuss what just happened in the book.

10. Volunteer at the library (or CLC). If a student knows their parents value books and reading, they will too. The CLC is a great place to volunteer. Many parents think that when their child gets to middle school they need to give them space. We don’t have room moms or anything like that, but in actuality, your student and their school needs you MORE! No, they may not want to see you in the hallway, but every time I have a volunteer in the CLC their student stops by to see them. We have volunteer opportunities such as bulletin boards, putting up displays, shelving books, wiping off tables and computers with Clorox wipes. We also have three book fairs a year (Half Price Book Fair is the week before Spring Break) and don’t forget MakerSpace helpers and those willing to show the students how to do a create something. We have tons of ideas to get you involved in the CLC, and because you are in here you are modeling the importance of the space and reading to your child. Your child might even stop by to give you a hug or fist bump as appreciation for being involved at their school.

For more tips and resources check out our Parent Resource page.


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