12 Ways to Motivate Middle School Students to Read
Challenge your middle school students to read 40 books across different genres throughout one school year. To be clear, this is not a competition but a reading goal to motivate readers. Miller writes, “The 40 Book Challenge is a personal challenge for each student, not a contest or competition between students or classes.“
Created by Pernille Ripp, the Global Read Aloud‘s goal is to connect the world through stories. Teachers around the world read aloud the same (chapter) book. Classrooms can connect online with each other to build community and go deeper into the book. Read aloud the book. Connect with other classrooms around the world who have also read the book. It’s inspiring and motivating to know that other people in the world are reading the same words as you. It’s even more powerful to find that based on their community and culture, they might interpret it differently than you did. (Look at Skype in the Classroom for connections worldwide.)
Get middle schoolers jazzed about new books with book tastings, a restaurant type setting with books instead of food. Start by organizing your tables by genre. Books sit on the plates with a menu on the top for notes. Students read (taste) the book at their place setting for a few minutes. Then, they make notes on the menu with the information about the book. For example, the name of the book, author, rating from 1 – 10, and if they want to keep reading it. Then they rotate to a new place setting. Some teachers let students keep their new yummy book and replace it with another book. Other teachers don’t let the kids keep the books until the end. You can find a musical book tasting idea here and a restaurant book tasting here.
Book clubs in my experience can be fun and motivating for middle school students — especially if it’s with a friend group or a group with common interests. Because middle schoolers are prioritizing the social aspects of life, book clubs can be particularly enticing. Book choice is also essential. How do you let kids self-select? Have kids vote on a book or have students take turns picking the book. Find more ideas for setting up your book clubs here and here.
I don’t know this One School, One Book program very well and quite frankly, the website isn’t super helpful. However, it’s supposed to be a way for schools to share in reading one book. My big concerns with this program are first that one book doesn’t seem realistic across so many grade levels both for reading level and for the maturity of content and second, assigning a book takes away children’s ability to self-select. What do you know about this program? Would you participate?
Teachers can invite favorite authors to visit their school. It’s often very motivating for students to hear from an author in person. Most publishers’ websites have information on how to contact authors and illustrators. Here are a few to get you started: Scholastic, Harper Collins, Penguin, Source Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, & Simon and Schuster. In addition, author Kate Messner has an extensive list of authors who will Skype for free with schools and book clubs.
Not everyone has social media accounts — my 13-year-old doesn’t yet — so this may not be possible in every situation. But, if you discover that your kids, students, book club, or community do have accounts on social media like Instagram, you can set an IG (or Twitter) hashtag for them to use in order to share what they’re reading. Make the hashtag something unique to your school or community that can be easily followed. (Do you know you can follow hashtags?) The content doesn’t have to be fancy #bookstagram photos either. The purpose is to connect middle school readers in your community to share opinions about books.
12. The Right Books
Sometimes it’s as easy as matching your middle school reader to the right book — a motivating story and maybe a bit easier to read. Find a list of the best recommendations for your reluctant readers.
What are other ways you like to motivate your middle schoolers to read?