7 Ways to Encourage Reading in Middle School
Plus Free Printable Middle School Reading List
By Lee Binz
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.
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.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.
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.
4. 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.
Middle 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.
- Adams, Richard Watership Down
- Alcott, Louisa May An Old-Fashioned Girl
- Alcott, Louisa May Little Women
- Babbit, Natalie Tuck Everlasting
- Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan
- Bendick, Jeanne Archimedes and the Door of Science
- Blackwood, Gary The Shakespeare Stealer
- Bolt, Robert A Man for All Seasons
- Bunyan, John The Pilgrim's Progress
- Burnett, Frances Hodgson The Secret Garden
- Carroll, Lewis Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
- Carroll, Lewis Through the Looking-Glass
- Cather, Willa My Antonia
- Chesterton, G.K. The Ballad of the White Horse
- Cohen, Barbara Seven Daughters and Seven Sons
- Collier, James Lincoln My Brother Sam Is Dead
- Cushman, Karen Catherine, Called Birdie
- Daugherty, James The Magna Charta
- Defoe, Daniel Robinson Crusoe
- De Angeli, Marguerite The Door in the Wall
- Dickens, Charles A Christmas Carol
- Doyle, Arthur Conan The Red-headed League
- Ellis, Deborah The Breadwinner (3 book series)
- Farley, Walter The Black Stallion series
- Fitzgerald, John D. The Great Brain
- Fletcher, Susan Shadow Spinner
- Forbes, Esther Hoskins Johnny Tremain
- Frank, Anne The Diary of a Young Girl
- Freedman, Russell Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
- George, Jean Craighead My Side of the Mountain
- George, Jean Craighead Tree Castle Island
- Gipson, Fred Old Yeller
- Grahame, Kenneth The Wind in the Willows
- Henty, G.A, In Freedom’s Cause
- Holling, Holling Clancy Paddle-to-the-Sea
- Hunt, Irene Across Five Aprils
- Jacques, Brian Redwall Series
- Juster, Norton The Phantom Tollbooth
- Keith, Harold Rifles for Watie
- Kipling, Rudyard Captain Courageous
- Kipling, Rudyard The Jungle Book
- Konigsburg, E.L. From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
- L’Engle, Madeleine A Wrinkle in Time series
- Lawrence, Caroline The Roman Mysteries
- Lee, Harper To Kill a Mockingbird
- Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia
- Lindgren, Astrid Pippi Longstocking
- London, Jack The Call of the Wild
- London, Jack White Fang
- Lowry, Lois The Giver
- Lowry, Lois Number the Stars
- MacDonald, George The Princess and the Goblin
- MacLachlan, Patricia Sarah Plain and Tall
- McGraw, Eloise Jarvis The Golden Goblet
- Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables series
- Moody, Ralph The Dry Divide
- Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds Saving Shiloh
- Paterson, Katherine Bridge to Terabithia
- Paulsen, Gary Hatchet
- Peretti, Frank E. The Cooper Kids Adventure series
- Polland, Madeleine Beorn the Proud
- Pope, Elizabeth Marie The Sherwood Ring
- Pyle, Howard Men of Iron
- Pyle, Howard The Story of King Arthur and His Knights
- Pyle, Howard Otto of the Silver Hand
- Pyle, Howard and McKowen, Scott The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
- Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan The Yearling
- Rawls, Wilson Where the Red Fern Grows
- Robinson, Barbara The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
- Rogers, Jonathan The Wilderking Trilogy
- Sewell, Anna Black Beauty
- Speare, Elizabeth George The Bronze Bow
- Speare, Elizabeth George The Witch of Blackbird Pond
- Stevenson, Robert Louis The Black Arrow
- Stevenson, Robert Louis Kidnapped
- Stevenson, Robert Louis Treasure Island
- Sutcliff, Rosemary The Roman Britain trilogy (The Eagle of the Ninth)
- Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit
- Twain, Mark Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- Twain, Mark The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- Verne, Jules Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
- Verne, Jules Around the World in 80 Days
- Wallace, Lew Ben-Hur
- Washington, Booker T. Up From Slavery
- White, T.H. The Sword in the Stone
- Wilder, Laura Ingalls The Little House series
- Williamson, Joanne Hittite Warrior
- Wyss, Johann David The Swiss Family Robinson
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, www.HomeHighSchoolHelp.com. 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 ( https://homehighschoolhelp.com/7-ways-to-encourage-reading-in-middle-school).
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 www.HomeHighSchoolHelp.com/freebies.
Keys to High School Success: Get Your Homeschool High School Started Right!
(Coffee Break Book) [Kindle Edition]
Many parents sail through homeschooling in the early years, but when faced with the prospect of homeschooling high school, they get ready to bail out, for all the wrong reasons! If you’re concerned about homeschooling high school, “Keys to High School Success” will start you on the right path, and encourage you to keep going. Learn how to choose curriculum, keep records, and how to structure your homeschool. Know your child, trust yourself, and prepare for college. Taught from a Christian perspective, “Keys to High School Success” will help you say “Yes!” to homeschooling high school, and give you confidence that you are doing it for all the right reasons!
Planning High School Courses
For homeschooling parents, it's important to establish a solid plan toward high school graduation. Learn what classes you need to teach, how to get them covered within four years. Discover ideas for planning your homeschool week. Use what you know about your students and their learning styles and consider the subjects that colleges want to see.
Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships
Parents who consider homeschooling their children through high school are often consumed by insecurity - "Are we ruining their college chances?" Well, there's no need to worry. When it comes to college admissions and scholarships, homeschoolers have what the colleges are looking for! You CAN craft high school transcripts and records that gain choice college admission and win BIG scholarships. Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, has helped thousands of parents create outstanding homeschool transcripts and records. Her proven system will teach you how to present your child to colleges in the best possible light. You'll learn how to build a winning homeschool transcript, regardless of your homeschool methods or style, how to create credible grades and credits, even if you don't give tests, and how to provide the exact records the colleges are looking for.