Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

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GENERAL DISCUSSIONS > Getting Kids to Read More

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message 1: by M.G. (last edited Jun 07, 2013 06:54AM) (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments This is our last day of school and summer is finally here! My boys will come home today and head straight for . . . the computer. (Hello Minecraft!)

I thought it might be a great time to share our best strategies for getting kids to read more.


message 2: by Bruce (new)

Bruce (brucearrington) Summer library reading programs seem to have success in our area...do you have a local program?


message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa My kids love the summer reading program. They usually have incentives for reading and fun events to do at the library as well.

My daughters group is doing a under the ground theme this year, so the first activity was gardening. They had several books they got to read about it or taking place in the garden.

My son's group is the teenagers and they are also having a teen pizza/movie night for them. They have some fun activities, some reading and then a movie. This weeks was Dr Who (not really a movie) at the end of the program there having a "Zombie Prom" at the community center. My not really a reader has already read 4 hours since it started in June.


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Do you have a family vacation or summer project that your doing? Maybe find books that involve that so they can read up on it before you go or start it?


message 5: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi (bobbichukran) Our local library also has a summer reading program. The library is trying to get local teens to volunteer working in the library over the summer, presumably in hopes that their friends will come in, or that word will spread.


message 6: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Those local librarians are pretty creative, aren't they?


message 7: by Literary (new)

Literary Yes this is a challenge. I have started a reading chart at home that the kids get to add a sticker to for every book they read. Bookmarks seem to please them as well so we have begun making them from scrap booking supplies and they love to use a different one for every book. simple ideas but so far it's working.


message 8: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi (bobbichukran) Yes, M.G., I think they have to be! LOL. Love the bookmark idea, Margaret. I think there are a lot of crafts that can be used in conjunction with libraries/books/reading. bc
PRINCESS PRIMROSE and the CURSE OF THE BIG SLEEP


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) My son is 17 and he's never read as much as I want him to. He, too, adores Minecraft (is now on staff on his server) and he's going to do something with programming as a career.

However, he's an excellent reader, very high English PSAT scores, very insightful essays for assigned school novels. He's such a good reader that he's too picky, I think. Most books, in his opinion, just aren't worth his time. And I must admit I can see his point.

So, my main point is, try not to get too uptight about it. Of course you all already know this, but I'll say it anyway - there's nothing like being forced to read that will turn a kid off from reading.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Family read-alouds are a big hit for some kids, especially if dad and older siblings also participate. We did a lot of that until my son was about 9, with Alice in Wonderland, the Ramona Quimby books, and Narnia.

If you've a commute or a road trip, or even just a hammock in the back yard, try audio-books. Just last summer my son and I listened to a marvelous read of Huckleberry Finn and enjoyed it very much - the narrator did all the work of bringing the accents and speech mannerisms to life.


message 11: by D. Robert (new)

D. Robert Pease (drobertpease) I've been pretty bummed lately that my kids aren't the readers they used to be. When my son was twelve or so, I couldn't keep him in books. He cleaned out the library. But now at fifteen he spends most of his time on the computer. My daughter's pretty much headed the same way. I keep thinking I should make them take some time off from the computer to read each day, but I'm just not sure making kids do something is the way to get them to love something :-)


message 12: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I found that if I don't tell my son that he needs to read more but instead lay a book in his room and say "I saw this and thought you might like it but if not you don't have to read it" that I find him at some point later on reading about half of the books I put in there. But it helps that he is pretty set in a certain area of the kind of books he likes.

*sneaky mom*


message 13: by M.G. (last edited Jun 09, 2013 04:02AM) (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments My kids really are in that golden age where they love to read. I find that if I put reasonable limits on media time and make sure there are books around, they will read without any interference on my part. I always feel like the mean parent when I tell them to turn off the computer -- so much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But it doesn't take long for them to pick up a book or find something creative to do or *gasp* go outside for some physical activity.

I once read an article that claimed rewarding reading is counterproductive -- that by offering a reward it sends the message that reading is somehow an unpleasant activity. I've always wondered about that, and haven't made a big deal about the reward programs offered through the school. But every kid is motivated differently.


message 14: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "Family read-alouds are a big hit for some kids, especially if dad and older siblings also participate. We did a lot of that until my son was about 9, with Alice in Wonderland, the Ramona Quimby bo..."

Cheryl, which audio version of Huckleberry Finn did you listen to? Do you remember who the narrator was?


message 15: by Liza (new)

Liza | 15 comments My daughter starts 6th grade. They have a summer reading project that will be their first grade, so she has her minimum reading to do. That will me my main concentration for her. Once that is done, she will read for fun.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Patrick Fraley was the narrator who did such a great job with the different dialects. Caveat, cuz I was surprised and don't want you to be: this isn't really for the younger MG kids, unless it's a family listen with plenty of discussion. Child abuse, drinking, confusions of superstition & faith, chicanery of all sorts, etc. etc.

My review, fwiw, here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 17: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Mongillo | 7 comments Some book stores have reading programs as well as the local libraries. There used to be a movie theater that did too... bring in a book report and get to see a free movie.


message 18: by M.G. (last edited Jun 13, 2013 05:19AM) (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "Patrick Fraley was the narrator who did such a great job with the different dialects. Caveat, cuz I was surprised and don't want you to be: this isn't really for the younger MG kids, unless it's a..."

Will definitely look up Patrick Fraley's version. Another really great audio book for (very long) car trips is THE HOBBIT with Rob Inglis as the narrator. Not only does he have a different voice for every character, he sings all those Middle Earth songs in the most beautiful baritone.


message 19: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (mrskathryn) M.G. wrote: "Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "Patrick Fraley was the narrator who did such a great job with the different dialects. Caveat, cuz I was surprised and don't want you to be: this isn't really for the younge..."

Thanks for the recommendation - my son wants to read The Hobbit, but it can be a tough read! It has been on my audiobook list - I'll look for that one! A great narrator makes such a difference.


message 20: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 48 comments We paired the book and movie for our summer reading, How to Train Your Dragon was great for pointing out differences between the two. Plus listened to lots of audiobooks.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Brenda wrote: "We paired the book and movie for our summer reading, How to Train Your Dragon was great for pointing out differences between the two."

That's a terrific idea. Show kids that you respect their opinion by giving them ownership over a little project like this...


message 22: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 1 comments We disconnect the Wii every summer. We would only hook it up on rainy days. Last year, we told the boys that in order to earn time on the Wii, they would need to read a book and then tell me the book and answer questions. That worked well for the first few weeks. After that, they did not think it was worth it and did not play the Wii the rest of the summer.

All three of my kids love to read. However, I am having a hard time getting my boys into chapter books (they are 9). They love Captain Underpants, Big Nate and similar books. I have tried different chapter books with no success (Magic Tree House, A to Z Mysteries, Encyclopedia Brown, Fudge books). I just picked up 39 Clues and began reading it with my daughter. It is a good series for kids. I will continue to try to get them to join us.


message 23: by M.G. (last edited Jun 18, 2013 03:44AM) (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Colleen wrote: "We disconnect the Wii every summer. We would only hook it up on rainy days. Last year, we told the boys that in order to earn time on the Wii, they would need to read a book and then tell me the ..."

With my both my boys it was like throwing a switch -- they went from reluctant readers to voracious readers overnight. They reached some kind of tipping point around age nine, when their reading ability finally reached the point that they could manage the books that really interested them. Two series recommended to me by their 2nd grade teachers that helped reach that point: The Droon series by Tony Abbott and The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.


message 24: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Several members have mentioned library summer reading programs -- I saw this today and had to post the link. This was the kickoff for a summer reading program in Seattle:
http://io9.com/watch-the-worlds-longe...


message 25: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
Colleen wrote: "We disconnect the Wii every summer. We would only hook it up on rainy days. Last year, we told the boys that in order to earn time on the Wii, they would need to read a book and then tell me the ..."

Colleen, try Hank the Cowdog. Those books worked for my boys, who were also reluctant to read fiction.

Of course, they read a great deal less now. I try not to stress, since both do very well in English classes and occupy a lot of their time with really interesting things besides the computer, but I feel like they are missing such a great means of escape, comfort, and learning about how other people think (a major weak spot for them, especially Eldest Son, who is mildly Aspergers).


message 26: by E.S. (new)

E.S. Ivy (esivy) | 133 comments Colleen wrote: "...hard time getting my boys into chapter books ..."

For my son, the first Harry Potter book was his first chapter book - although he didn't go on to read the rest of the series at that point, too much work. :) And M.G. had an excellent suggestion, The Droon series was his first favorite series. Also try Dragon Academy

The New Kid at School But I'll also add that I wouldn't stress too much about what *type* of book they are reading. Cartoon books (like Garfield and Calvin and Hobbs) were great for increasing my son's reading skills and then he naturally moved onto more difficult books (He's reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy now.)

For summer reading I take my kids to the library every week. For a while I did limit the number of cartoon books they checked out (as like 3 of 5) but that's the only direction I give unless they ask for help finding books.


message 27: by Helen (new)

Helen Laycock (helenlaycock) | 128 comments Children have so much gadgetry these days, don't they? They are never stuck for something to do!

However, there's nothing quite like getting your nose into a good book. The trouble is, if a book doesn't grab a child, why should they want to read it? I'm the same. Find me an author or genre I love and I'll happily lock myself away, ignoring everyone and letting my family starve until I'm good and ready to put it down. However, if I'm struggling to engage with the plot or characters, then that's it. I'll take the book to the charity shop. Life's just too short. Children can feel this way, too.

When I used to teach, the children enjoyed nothing more than hearing a book read aloud. To picture their faces, mouths open, eyes wide, was wonderful. I used to 'do' all the voices - embarrassing if an adult came in(!) - but it went down well. Children just love a story to come to life; otherwise, it's just print on a page. As soon as I had finished, you can bet your bottom dollar that they were queueing up to borrow that book.

If a struggling reader is familiar with a story, then it's so much easier to read it if it's been read to them first. Paired reading works, too: a parent reads a page/paragraph or even a line, then the child reads the next. Don't let them struggle over a word. Just slot it in - otherwise the story loses its continuity.

Rewards can work for a reluctant reader. You can award medals, rosettes or stars for reaching targets which can be very small, thus achievable. I agree that listening to story CDs in the car is great for introducing a new book. They may want to read it by themselves later.

Finally, I would say that children don't necessarily have to read fiction. As long as they master 'reading', it doesn't matter how they get there - reference books, comics or even subtitles. The important thing is that they are interested in the subject matter.


message 28: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
Good points, Helen. I especially agree about non-fiction. It was weird to me, because I was a total fiction kid, but my boys were not. They did all their early reading in non-fiction. Eye Witness books are great for this, as they have lots of little bits of text in varying lengths and difficulties so that kids can always find something they can read in amounts they can cope with--and interest in the subject will lead them to try harder.

They didn't have a problem with the picture books we read them when very small--but as soon as they were old enough to choose, it was always coming back to the non-fiction, not the ones I loved :D Except Dr. Seuss. They have always liked silliness.


message 29: by S.W. (new)

S.W. (swlothian) | 843 comments Mod
Wow.... this is a vibrant topic. There are some great ideas and suggestions being thrown about.
Thanks everyone for your valued input.


message 30: by V.K. (new)

V.K. Finnish | 77 comments I've found that taking my kids to the library and letting them choose their own books is the best way to get them reading in the summer. Another way is that I pick MG books for myself to read and often my kids will want to read it when I'm done (or sometimes before I'm done! :)


message 31: by Melissa (new)

Melissa My daughter has recently found the non-fiction section of books in her age group and she has been quickly going through them. The first week it was books about animals and oceans and this week it was biographies on Albert Einstein and Houdini. They have some really good non-fiction for MG kids out there.

Non-fiction is a good choice for reluctant readers if you can find something that they are already interested in, especially if they learn something new about the subject.


message 32: by E.S. (new)

E.S. Ivy (esivy) | 133 comments I use a combination of V.K. and Melissa's approaches:

I take the kids to the library. If I suggest books I think the kids will really like but decline, I check them out for me. And then I also check out some interesting non-fiction. If it's in the stack of available books, they'll often read it!


message 33: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
I used (and to some degree still do) this same approach. Because I work at the library, when they were younger I just brought home everything that caught my eye.


message 34: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Lyons (goodreadscommaggiel) Books with simple, fast-paced plots, short chapters that end in cliff hangers, and plenty of humor appeal to reluctant readers. Dan Gutman's stories and the Wayside series of Louis Sacher are good starts.


message 35: by Jaime (new)

Jaime Buckley (wantedhero) | 23 comments M.G. wrote: "Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "Family read-alouds are a big hit for some kids, especially if dad and older siblings also participate. We did a lot of that until my son was about 9, with Alice in Wonderla..."

We like to pick a few series that the whole family might enjoy--then we read together (thank you Nook!). So I'll buy one eBook and it goes to all the eReaders in the house.

The conversations we've had over Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Chosen....even Hunger Games. Many times we'll read a book, then see a movie to do a comparison as a family.


message 36: by Katy (new)

Katy Pye (pyewriter) | 29 comments For anyone interested, Kobo is adding a dedicated "Kids Store" to its site in September. Here's a quote from an article on it and the article link with two interesting stats.

http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/12159...

"In a whitepaper published by Kobo, Scholastic contributed that of children who have read an eBook, one in five said that they are reading more books for fun. In addition, almost half of all children ages six to 17 said they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to eBooks."


message 37: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments That is interesting. I think reading off a screen feels really natural to this generation that has grown up in front of the computer.


message 38: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia Dinsmore (cordeliadinsmore) | 105 comments That is really great news about Kobo. Any exposure we can get that will encourage the kids to read, I'm all for.


message 39: by H.Y. (new)

H.Y. Hanna (hyhanna) I think it's important to let them read whatever they like (within reason!) to start with. I think a lot of kids get put off reading because they're either faced with dry, school reading lists (or maybe school reading has gotten a lot better since my day! ;-) ) - or with "classics" that well-meaning adults tell them they MUST read. Nothing like feeling you HAVE to do something to put you off it! ;-) I know my friends at school who hated reading always felt like they had to do it for a reason (eg, education, increase vocab, etc) - whereas I always just read for pleasure. That's the best reason. :-)

Hsin-Yi


message 40: by S.W. (new)

S.W. (swlothian) | 843 comments Mod
In my opinion I think (hope) that the growth of ereaders will encourage reading among kids.

My son's school has just introduced iPads for a lot of their lessons/ homework/ school books, and it has done wonders in engaging the kids. They definitely have more enthusiasm because of the way they can learn and interact via iPad. I can see that the same should occur for reading.

It's a natural technology for them, just as books were for us, and chalkboards were for earlier generations.


message 41: by H.Y. (new)

H.Y. Hanna (hyhanna) Yes, I heard from a teacher in the US that schools in California were introducing iPads to the classroom en masse! I do think it's only a matter of time...

(I hope so too as an indie kid's author coz we're always struggling with the challenge that our books can't get into bookstores easily and yet that seems to be where most kids & parents still shop! ;-) )

Hsin-Yi


message 42: by Camille (new)

Camille Singleton (camillesingleton) | 18 comments S.W. wrote: "In my opinion I think (hope) that the growth of ereaders will encourage reading among kids.

My son's school has just introduced iPads for a lot of their lessons/ homework/ school books, and it ha..."


Ah technology marches on. However, all the teachers have had to move their desks so they can see computer screens. Students are playing games instead of doing homework. They are choosing to play games instead of reading while in study hall. I haven't been able to get library aides because if they stay in Study Hall, they can play games or message their friends. In the past we took their cells away so they wouldn't text, but now they can IM. Students are getting on sites they aren't suppose to, yes we block them but they are pretty good about getting around things. Just showing the other side.


message 43: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) | 728 comments Thinking about the pros and cons, and Camille's last comment.

This is a little off-topic, but has anyone read about the recent research that shows that students retain subject matter better when they study from a paper text vs. digital? It has to do with the physicality of a book, of being able to page back and forth and get a sense of how the material fits into larger concepts. I thought it was a fascinating article about learning styles.

Here's the link: http://www.tested.com/tech/concepts/4...

I do think that school are going to embrace tablet technology because it will cost less.


message 44: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Craft (jerrycraft) | 10 comments Below are some bullets from a blog I did on getting boys to read. The full list is at http://jerrycraft.wordpress.com/2012/...

1) Read to them! Not just when they're babies.
2) Read with them!
3) Let them see YOU read!
4) Help them find books that they WANT to read. Just like they can’t eat unless you keep food in the house, they can’t read unless there are books in the house.
5) If there is a movie version, read the book, too!
Listen to books on tape. Either in the car, or maybe before bed.
6) Don’t just give them books and be done with it. Ask them questions about it. Talk


message 45: by Lisen (new)

Lisen Minetti | 5 comments I also found that reading the same thing my daughter is reading is a huge part of her love of books. Over the summer we read the Fablehaven series together and for the first month of school we read The False Prince (which was amazing) at the same time. It led to great conversations. Last night we even discussed (and read parts of) Romeo & Juliet.


message 46: by Melissa (new)

Melissa My daughter and I read together for 30 minutes before bed time, we take turns reading or sometimes she likes it if I do all the reading. Then we talk about what we think is going to happen next or what we think about what we already read.

we started doing this with the Fablehaven series which really increased my enjoyment as well, her responses are so much fun!
We are currently reading You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum! by Andy Stanton .

I noticed with my son if I brought home movies based on a book after watching the movie he would go check out the book.


message 47: by Melissa (new)

Melissa We just got back from my daughter's school's "Tell me a Story Night". This is such a fun event they put together, the teachers pick stories to read and the Jr High kids "act" out the scene while the teachers read the story to the younger kids. You go from classroom to classroom to hear the different stories.
Scholastic donates books to the event and all the kids go home with a new book and one kid from each class wins a drawing for a series of books. There was even a grand prize Kindle drawing.
It is amazing how packed this event is and how much the kids love it!

This year we heard The Middle-Child Blues by Kristyn Crow , Cinderella's Big Foot. by Laura North and Martin Remphry by Laura North , No, Tito, No! = No, No, Titus! by Claire Masurel , I'm So Embarrassed by Robert N. Munsch and My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza


message 48: by Lisen (new)

Lisen Minetti | 5 comments After reading all of these comments, I think I may try to do a monthly middle grade book club for my daughter and her friends. They read the book and meet and discuss over pizza then a slumber party!


message 49: by Melissa (new)

Melissa What a cool idea Lisen!


message 50: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Lyons (goodreadscommaggiel) I'm developing a list of fun books for boys who don't like to read - girls may like these titles too. I'd love to have recommendations to add to my list. My blog discusses a few recommended books written especially for reluctant boy readers: http://maggie-lyons.blogspot.com/2013... Your recommendations?


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