Given the importance of comprehension in the newCommon Core Standards, reading is even more important than ever to our children’s academic success. This creates additional pressure for students who are already reluctant readers. Now reading is not only important to their literacy, it affects how they answer math questions.
An inability to increase comprehension can cause reluctant readers to fall even farther behind on academic achievement testing. To help improve reading skills in middle schoolers, Open Booksoffers five tips for motivating middle school students to read.
1. Offer variety in reading material. Teens often feel hesitant to read because it’s an activity they are forced to do in school, and seldom have any choice about the material. At Open Books, we regularly host book giveaways, allowing our students to choose their own books to take home. Having ownership over the text, and allowing students to read whatever they want is a great way to get them jazzed about books!
2. Read book series. A great way to motivate teens to keep reading is by exposing them to series.
They’ll get hooked while reading the first book, and greedy to get their hands on the rest!
3. Read the first page…out loud. So many teens at Open Books have told me, “If I don’t like the first page, I don’t want to read the rest.” Reading the first page of a book out loud (with plenty
of expression!) helps hook young readers – they’ll be eager to learn more. Plus, by the time they’re teenagers, many students no longer get read to during school, so it’s a great opportunity to help them relax and spend their brain energy absorbing and visualizing the text.
4. Practice what you preach. Middle school students model their behavior after what they’re exposed to, so a great way to cultivate readers in your classroom is to talk about your experience as a reader. Tell your students what books/passages/articles you’ve loved, share quotations and
beautiful sentences, and soon, your students will follow suit.
5. Get in character. I love giving middle school students the opportunity slip into the skins of the characters we’re reading about in order to deepen their understanding of a text. I’ll divide the class into groups, and assign each group a character, and have them come up with a skit showcasing that character in a new situation. The students have to understand the quirks of the character in the book (his/her voice, vocabulary, and personality) in order to create their skits. It’s fun, educational – and students love the opportunity to do a little acting.