How to Re-engage Students with Reading
Parent Question: “My student is very down on any more camp/activities than she already has, but I would like to get her reading and writing more. She used to read a couple books at a time, but alas, there seems to be more important things to do as a tween these days, sigh….”
Advice from SOS4Students Director Beth Samuelson:
During a stressful past year mainly spent online, many students gravitated to phones and online games to stay connected to friends and maintain some semblance of social life. Some students only read when assignments required it and some of my students even struggled to engage with those books, finding ways to skim or read book summaries online instead of the book itself. (This no doubt pains English teachers greatly!)
Re-engaging students in reading this summer is important. For middle school students, here are some suggestions:
- Visit a bookstore and have your student pick books in the middle grade reader or young adult section. Making their own decisions about what to read helps get them invested in the reading.
- E-books or physical books? There is research that shows many benefit from deeper reading and greater involvement (less skimming) with physical books. It’s a personal choice. I still travel with books and so does my daughter, but my husband prefers digital books.
- Have tweens make reading a routine. Ask them to choose the time and allot at least 30 to 45 minutes for reading. They might even consider two times a day, including a before bedtime read (helping students remove phones and computers from their room an hour prior to sleep). Habits become ingrained through practice.
- Sometimes engaging in a fun competition such as seeing who can read the most pages in a month can be motivating. This involves setting a goal and realizing it, which is an executive functioning skill (bonus!). Libraries often offer summer reading programs too.
- Suggest a small group of friends choose one book none of them have read and have a summer reading group. Students can get together either online or in-person to discuss the book.
- Book series are often great for students who like being immersed in an ongoing story; the promise of the next in line keeps them reading.
- Those with dyslexia and other challenges affecting reading may benefit from audio books instead. Any routines should be the same as for those reading books.
Along with writing assignments, many schools are requiring students to read this summer. We think that’s great. If your student failed to get enough writing instruction this year, check out our Write On summer program for middle schoolers and Writing Rx for those in high school. Both workshops provide short, fun, hands-on writing instruction experiences designed to get students ready for school in August. Learn More