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Reading Tips for Parents of Middle School Students

As your student’s first (and most important) teacher, you have the power to guide your student to become a skillful reader. Whether your student is already a proficient reader, or is a struggling or reluctant reader, your positive encouragement can help your student move towards success.

Here are some suggestions on how you can support reading at home.

Provide Opportunities for Reading at Home

  • Surround yourself with reading materials. Make reading a part of your living space with books, magazines, and newspapers. Let your child pick out the subscription to a favorite magazine.
  • Ensure he has a good reading space. He should choose where it is, but you can make sure it's well lit and inviting so he stays a while.
  • Listen to books on cd or on mobile devices in the car. If you're heading on vacation, or even back-and-forth to school, try listening to a novel that will appeal to everyone. You can check out many books, both cd and digital versions, from the public library.
  • Play games that utilize reading. Word- and vocabulary-building games like Scrabble or Boggle are great, but many board games provide reading opportunities (even if it's just the instructions). Crosswords provide opportunities for learning new words and spelling practice, too.
  • Encourage your middle-schooler to read to a younger sibling. Letting her take over ritual reading at bedtime once a week will ensure she reads something, and she may find her sibling's enthusiasm for stories contagious.
  • Suggest books from movies she liked. She may enjoy getting even more detail in the book.
  • Encourage him to read 20 minutes before bed each night. You can do the same! Have reading be the quiet time to wind down at the end of the day.

Model Active and Effective Reading

  • Bring something to read everywhere you go. From the office to home, or even the living room to the bedroom, make sure you're equipped with reading material — for yourself and your child. Show him that reading is a constructive (and fun!) way to pass the time.

  • Read the news together. Whether it's for 15 minutes over breakfast or on weekends, establish a routine and discuss what you each read.
  • Model reading. Your pre-teen will still follow your reading habits (though she'll never let you know it!). Let her see you reading, make comments, and share interesting passages with her. Read at the end of a long day to calm down.
  • Draw attention to the things you read. Talk about sports or news, and mention that you got your information from what you read online. If you read something funny or shocking, share it!

Support Your Reader

  • Visit the library together. Try to make it an event where you share some quality one-on-one time and both choose a few books.
  • Let your child choose what to read. While you may cringe at his preferences, he may never touch a title if it's force-fed.
  • Keep up on what she's reading. If you can, read a few pages of her books yourself so you can discuss them with her.
  • Make books a reward. Offer to buy a book at the book fair after a good conference, or go to a bookstore for good grades or a good season in sports.
  • Talk about what she reads. Ask her what she thinks of a book and make connections with ideas or issues that are relevant to her life.
  • If he's struggling or bored with a book, let him put it down. Forcing him to stick with a difficult or dull book that's intended for pleasure will reinforce the idea that reading is a chore.
  • Create a college-going culture at home. Talk to her like you expect her to go to college. No matter what job she is interested in - remind her that reading will be a part of it!
  • Stay engaged with your child and his teachers. Be proactive. Don’t wait until the first report card. Make sure you know what is expected of him and that he is meeting the teachers’ expectations.
  • Help her read homework assignments. Talk about reading strategies to help understand what is read - making connections, predicting, asking questions, visualizing. Read the passage for her, or read it together.
  • Join book clubs and summer reading programs. There are free programs at publics libraries and bookstores. They offer free books and drawings for larger prizes for reading a certain number of hours.

Resources for All Readers