At the start, parents and teachers focus on teaching kids how to read. As they get older, we hope they’ll want to continue as reading for pleasure has lots of benefits. It builds vocabulary and improves reading comprehension, writing, spelling and more.
One solution is to is to figure out what kids like to do, what they’re interested in, and where they are in their emotional growth. At this age they’re social, curious, beginning to pull way from their parents to forge their own identity, and fine-tuning their sense of humor. Thus, books that expand their view of the world or poke fun at the world they know (family, friends, puberty, school social dynamics) hold a lot of appeal, as do imagined worlds of science fiction and fantasy.
The following tips will help to get them reading more:
Reading the latest hit book lets the kids be a part of what “everyone” is talking about. Many friendships have been formed over a love of Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Check the middle-grade bestseller lists, clue your kid into book blogs (including ones by kids and teens), and ask booksellers and librarians what kids this age are requesting. And keep your ears tuned to book raves on carpool rides!
Allowing kids to have more control over what they read increases their motivation to do it. And don’t criticize their choices or formats — books, eBooks, graphic novels, articles. To widen the field, take them to the library or bookstore. Browsing in a used bookstore can be a revelation (and easier on your wallet!).
Many books written for kids and teens are adapted into movies, and knowing there’s a big-screen version on the way can motivate kids to read the book first — or after — to compare the book and movie versions of, say, Wonder or A Wrinkle in Time. It also gives kids the chance to be the expert who knows more on a subject than their parents.
If they happen to like like a book in a series, keep them coming. Adventure sagas, which kids love at this age, have lots of installments, each ending on a tempting cliffhanger. Getting hooked on a series like Percy Jackson or The Mortal Instruments leads to being hooked on an author, which leads to more books and even spin-off series.
Whatever they are into — football, the environment, alien invasions, humor, social justice — there are books about it. Finding a book on a topic a child is already passionate about is half the battle.