Keep Your Pre-Teen Excited About Reading (5 Tips for Parents)
March is National Reading Month so there is a lot of attention on this foundation skill. With Dr. Seuss's birthday and Read Across America kicking off the month, there is understandably a lot of emphasis on emerging readers. But what about readers who are hitting their too-cool-for-school adolescence? Middle grade students are among the most challenging...and rewarding...to parent and teach. Reading fluency in these crucial years can lead to greater confidence and success in academics and in life.
How do you keep pre-teens engaged in reading?
- Read Aloud: As pre-teens "face a bevy of new challenges from peer pressure to academic rigors," Raina Angelier, Literacy Specialist and Author of Bisbosishas, the Hot-Headed Penguin, recommends "spending a special dedicated time" reading together. Not only are you spending quality time together, you are also modeling the importance of reading. She may not want you to know it but you are still a role model for your adolescent.
- Be a Serial Reader: Angelier also encourages you to get your child hooked on a great series. "There are an abundance of wonderful series available for middle school readers in a wide range of topics to suit any reader's interests. And by sharing the reading experience, very often a story will act as a springboard to an insightful conversation between you and your child, providing a platform to discuss relevant, often emotional, topics that he or she may be facing."
- Make it Multimedia: For better or worse, we no longer live in a world where books are the primary entertainment option. Jackie Higgins, Reading Specialist, and author of Ready, Set, Read says, 'Let your child watch a few book trailers, usually available on YouTube or the publisher's websites, before heading off to the library. These video advertisements for books will give your child a brief summary of the book in a format kids find engaging."
- Get Graphic: Don't shy away from graphic novels. The interaction between pictures and text is as important for middle grade readers as it is for pre-readers and an illustrated book can seem less intimidating to reluctant or struggling readers. Once thought the province of little kids and 20-something basement-dwellers, graphic novels are gaining respectability as an artistic medium. Graphic novels range from history to fantasy to biography and every genre you can imagine and there are an increasing number of age-appropriate selections for preteens.
- Socialize: Instead of fighting pre-teens' social nature, channel it. Join a book club or reading circle. Find volunteer opportunities for your adolscent to read to young children. Allow your child to join safe fan forums under your supervision. If reading is a ticket into a peer social circle or an opportunity to be a role model, it will be appealing to your middle school student.
Do you have a middle grade reader? What are your challenges and success stories?