When children struggle with reading, it’s not a shock that they do not want to read. As a teacher and parent, it’s helpful to understand what to do when your middle school student has a hard time comprehending what they read. Read on to find out what to do when your child is struggling with reading.
Let them Read What They Want
Even if you don’t see the educational merits of graphic novels or chick lit, it’s not about the content, it’s about reading! When older students get to choose what they read, they are more likely to enjoy it. Take a trip to the bookstore or library and ask the experts what your child should read based on their favorite books or interests. If your child loves football, start with an autobiography about their favorite player or maybe a Carl Deuker novel like Gym Candy. No matter what their interests, let your child pick! If your student enjoyed The Hunger Games series (books or movies), they may want to try the classic, The Giver by Lois Lowry, another dystopian novel.
Listen While Reading
Don’t think of audiobooks as cheating but as a supplementary resource that will help with reading comprehension. Difficult text can become more accessible when students listen to a fluent reader as they follow along. Listening to a book can help struggling readers stay on pace with reading. Plus, it’s fun to listen to celebrities or eloquent readers express the words on the pages before them. Some of the best audiobooks are read by the authors, so your child can hear exactly how the author intended the story was meant to be read. The Roald Dahl Collection with such novels as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach are great titles to try.
Read With Your Child
One of the greatest ways to help your child become a better reader is to read with them. Model fluent reading as well as your struggles. Let them know it’s OK to stumble on words and help them decipher meaning. Talk about what you’re reading. Make some predictions, ask questions, and connect your own lives to the text.
Don’t Restrict Reading Levels
Just let them read! Don’t tell your child they should read within a certain Lexile or grade level. In fact, reading a challenging text (with some of the scaffolding mentioned in the above tips) can be more powerful than reading an easier text. Focus on interests rather than levels. Hearing fluent readers, asking questions, making predictions, and making connections outside the words in the text to the world, self, and others will help readers enjoy reading and improve.
Reward with a Movie
Does your middle schooler want to see the latest book turned blockbuster? Have your child read the book with you or independently. When your child finishes reading, you can take them to see the movie in the theater or on DVD. As an added bonus, this provides a great way to compare and contrast films and novels, making for a great language arts and writing lesson!
These tips for what to do when your child is struggling with reading will help your child access enjoyable text and improve reading comprehension.