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7 Ways to Encourage Reading in Middle School

Plus Free Printable Middle School Reading List

7 Ways to Encourage Reading in Middle School #Homeschool @TheHomeScholarFebruary 2015
By Lee Binz

The HomeScholar

How can you encourage your middle schoolers to read? Let me count the ways! Encouraging reading can be a fun way to help children love learning. When reading is enjoyable, children see homeschooling as a fun educational option, not a chore forced on them by a taskmaster. Learn to make reading fun with these 7 easy-to-implement ideas.

Shop for all books on this reading list as well as my other great homeschool curriculum recommendations at my Amazon Store!

1. Create a Cozy Corner
In my homeschool, our cozy corner was any place where our dog was hiding. Behind a couch or in the sun's rays, reading with a pet increases a sense of coziness, which children will learn to associate with reading. You can supply pillows or blankets, and some parents will create a corner near a bookshelf filled with fun and age-appropriate books.

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2. Design a Bedroom Paradise
As children get older, they may eschew their reading corner and spend more time in their room. You can create a bedroom and routine that encourages independent reading. Remove technology from their room first, so they read instead of playing online. Set up bedtime reading boundaries and a lights-out time. You could get a fun or stylish reading light or headlamp, so they can read at night. Then, your child can read until they get sleepy, and turn off the light without getting out of bed. Avoid letting them read using digital devices, because that can negatively affect their sleep quality.

3. Provide a Yummy Treat
Some adults (like me!) love to have their coffee while they read the paper each morning, and other adults love to read their novel while sipping tea. You can use that same cozy yumminess with your teens. You can provide cocoa or cookies to keep it simple. Or you can go all out, and create more classic tea time, like the Tuesday Tea Time suggested by Brave Writer, and incorporate discussion and poetry with your treats.

7 Ways to Encourage Reading in Middle School #Homeschool @TheHomeScholar4. Increase Fluency with Fluff
Once your children learn how to read, the next step is increasing their vocabulary, speed, and fluency. Although reading challenging books will help increase vocabulary best, you may need to go in the other direction to help kids read quickly. You can increase speed and fluency by letting them read below their ability level. I know my children may have spent too much time reading Calvin and Hobbes comic books, but it did teach them to read quickly. Be careful to preview the comics you provide, because they have changed over the past few years. You can use higher quality literature too, of course, just use books that are below their reading level. As reading becomes easier, they will read faster and become more confident.

5. Focus on Discussion not Confrontation
It’s possible to beat the love of reading right out of a child if you analyze and dissect each piece of literature. It’s not necessary or recommended to do literary analysis for every piece of literature they read. Encourage reading for pleasure by avoiding comprehension worksheets when possible. Instead of asking test-like questions, you can occasionally have an open-ended discussion about the merits of the book, and share feelings about it together. Constant literary analysis can cause children to think “this must be school” instead of “I love to read.”

6. Brainstorm Tie-in Activities
Instead of formal analysis, you can substitute other activities that might be more enjoyable. A simple online search may help you find some great activities for classic books. You may find recipes to bake, field trip suggestions, hands-on crafts, or movie suggestions. Some families will join together for a book club. It can be a simple book club, with each child sharing a brief oral presentation: why they liked the book (or didn’t) and why others should read it (or not). Sure, it’s public speaking, but you can also make it enjoyable for children who just want to get together for fun and treats. When I was homeschooling, we gathered at a pizza place. After each child spoke, they received a gift certificate for a personal size pizza. My children were highly motivated by pizza, and it was a big success for our whole homeschool support group.

7. Avoid Reading the Wrong Books
Provide real books (not “school reading books”) that have quality writing and great story lines. There are some children who say they don’t like to read. They may feel that way because they read the wrong books. Try to find books that will interest them – topics they are passionate about. Branch out, and look into different genres of fiction and non-fiction. Consider magazines, non-fiction from their delight directed learning, or even classic graphic novels, like Tintin in Tibet and others. Anything that encourages them to read is a good idea. Any reading they enjoy wll make other reading easier for them. I know, you don’t want them to read non-fiction and graphic novels exclusively, but providing a wide array of reading will help each child find enjoyment in reading.

7 Ways to Encourage Reading in Middle School #Homeschool @TheHomeScholarMiddle School Reading List
All families are different and must decide their own standards for the books their children read. Parents assume all responsibility for their children’s education. This book list is based on commonly recommended books for middle school students, heavily influenced by the reading we have done with our own children. If you are not familiar with something on this list, please review the book first. It’s been a long time since I read them myself, as the parent of a middle school student, and only you know the maturity level of your child.

If you have a reluctant reader, focus on short, classic books. For kinesthetic learners, focus on books with active main characters. For those voracious readers, feed their book hunger with quality literature instead of junk. For moody children, avoid dark characters or themes and locate uplifting books with heroes and over-comers. Middle school reading lists have become darker in our current educational system. For a fascinating comparison, see this article: Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today. One resource that helped us choose books was The Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease. For high school students, or children advanced beyond their years, look over my College Bound Reading List for inspiration.

The following books are generally suitable for middle schoolers, ages 11-13.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.

When your children enter high school, or have exhausted this list, find more quality literature in The HomeScholar College Bound Reading List:

Copyright © 2017 The HomeScholar LLC, Text may be reprinted without permission if used in full, except for use in a book or other publication for rent or for sale. Reprint must include this copyright, bio (below), and the original URL link (

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's FREE Resource Guide "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School" and more freebies at

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