5 Tips for Encouraging Middle Schoolers Who Hate to Read

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5 Tips for Encouraging Middle Schoolers Who Hate to Read

When I taught kindergarten back in the BK (before kids) days, I handed out a parent pamphlet every year with the title, “How to Raise a Reader.” As a young mom armed with this advice, I set out to ensure that my child would enjoy reading. I was sure it would be easy. I had visions of sharing all of my childhood favorites with her. After all, one of the most important steps, according to the pamphlet, was to make sure that we as parents read in front of our children. Another was to have books around the home.

Growing a Love of Reading

My husband and I are both voracious readers. Add to that the fact that our families have threatened never to help us move again if we don’t get rid of some of our books, and you can see that we have those steps covered. Somehow, however, the formula didn’t work for us. My daughter is, I affectionately say, a “readingphobe.” Mind you, she can read—beautifully, in fact. It’s just that she ranks reading right up there with having a tooth pulled or getting a shot. So, what do you do when you homeschool a middle schooler who can’t stand to read?

Here are a few tips I use to make her homeschool reading time more palatable for both of us:

1.  When appropriate I allow her to read about subjects that interest her. For my daughter, that means she reads about softball and fashion, rather than the Little Women or Jane Eyre that are so dear to my heart.

2.  For the occasions when I do assign classical books—which I believe is a very necessary part of her homeschool studies—I often let her watch the film version of the book either before or after she reads it.

3.  I offer choices whenever possible. When my daughter began working at a sixth grade level, I made a list of good literature appropriate for her reading and maturity level. Then I assigned a point value to each book based on both the number of pages in the book and its reading level. At the beginning of each semester, I set a goal for her. Meeting this point goal is figured into her language arts grade.

4.  I read the book with her. Sometimes she reads aloud to me, while other times she reads a page, then I read a page or two. She enjoys that one-on-one time with mom, and we get to have wonderful discussions about the book. At the same time, because I do half of the reading, she sees it as less work than when I ask her to read independently.

5.  Sometimes I offer rewards. Finding a reward that makes the challenge exciting for my middle schooler is not as easy as for my elementary age son. While an ice cream cone or a trip to the park is good enough for him, my daughter is motivated much more by a trip to the mall or a new bottle of nail polish!

If you happen to have a “readingphobe” like I do, I hope these tips will inspire you to find ways to make reading less of a chore and more fun for you both!

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