If you have a sixth or seventh grader, chances are they'll have homework over summer vacation. While it may leave your kids muttering complaints beneath their breath, summer reading is a vital part of a student's development. This task helps encourage future reading habits while expanding a child's imagination and ensuring they are prepared to hit the ground running in the coming school year. Finding solid books for middle schoolers is the best way a parent can help to make this happen.
Avoid the Summer Slide: why summer reading lists are important -- especially in middle school
Research shows the majority of children lose comprehension skills if they don't practice reading over summer break. The truth is, kids can lose up to two months of reading development if they refuse to pick up a book all summer. This is particularly concerning in a student's middle school career as it often leads to significant setbacks in their academic progress.
To prevent this from happening, parents must find ways to motivate reluctant readers at home. By encouraging children to read regularly, parents will help them to maintain and even improve their reading skills so they are less likely to have a hard time when they return to class in the coming year. In fact, when taken seriously, summer reading lists do more than help your children to avoid the summer slide. They invite your kids into new worlds of knowledge, imagination, and adventure, helping them to develop a love of learning that is sure to help them in their life to come.
Don't Ruin Summer: ideas to make reading fun
While parents and teachers may understand the importance of summer reading, it's easy to understand why your middle schooler may be packing his bags to run away with their best friend. They've been waiting all year for a well earned vacation, after all. They had no idea their mother and father would spend all summer shoving library books into their hand.
Summer break IS a time for kids to relax and have fun after a busy school year.
So how can parents give their kids a chance to kick back while also encouraging them to continue building and developing the skills they learned during the school year?
Luckily, there are plenty of ways one can turn this dreaded assignment into a fun activity...
Make it a family activity:
- Set a good example and put down your phone. Parents who read often have kids who read.
- Find a great story the whole family will enjoy. Then encourage everyone to read the story together.
- Start a family book club. Meet several times each month over pizza to discuss the books you are reading together.
- Take turns reading aloud.
- Listen to audiobooks on your next road trip. Audiobooks can be enjoyed together and will build comprehension skills just as effectively as their print counterparts.
Find books that fit your child's interests:
- Watch your kids to see what books draw their attention. Let your child choose books that interest THEM.
- Encourage your children to explore new authors within genres they love.
- Introduce them to books that connect to their favorite shows and movies. Discuss how these book differs from what they've seen on screen.
- Find biographies written about their favorite public figures, athletes, and celebrities. Kids love learning about the people they admire.
- Introduce your kids to graphic novels. These may look like comic books, but they will help your child to build literacy skills just like a novel.
Create a reading-friendly environment:
- Provide a quiet and comfortable space for your children to read. No screens allowed!
- Play movie scores that match a book's genre to help your kids get further immersed in the story world.
- Encourage your children to bring books with them when out and about. Even short car rides are great for reading.
- Set aside a window of time to read each day. Make this a routine and STICK TO IT. Remember it only takes 20-30 minutes a day to see solid results.
Incorporate fun into reading:
- Encourage your child to read books with interactive elements, such as choose-your-own-adventure books.
- Offer special treats to snack on while reading.
- Use technology to enhance the reading experience. Audiobooks with sound effects and music can be a great way to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged.
Encourage exploration and learning:
- Encourage your child to read non-fiction books on subjects they have shown an interest in.
- Let your child read multicultural books that will expose them to different ways of life outside of their comfort zone.
- Take regular trips to the library and let your child find and select books on their own.
In the end, of course, the best way to ensure children don't fall behind is to encourage a love for great books that they'll carry with them for the rest of their life. Do that and their teacher-assigned summer reading list won't feel like homework at all.
With that in mind...
The Ultimate List of Books for Middle Schoolers
Good books for middle schoolers that will lead to lots of happy reading...
Ghoul School by Devlin DeGuise
Combining the best of audiobooks, graphic novels, and traditional prose, Ghoul School uses proven publishing techniques to engage the most reluctant readers...
- Creepy music and Hollywood sound effects highlight a streamable podcast that offers children a read-along experience they will never forget
- Low page counts reduce intimidation, promising reluctant readers they won’t spend the rest of their lives with their nose buried in a book
- Big fonts let readers turn pages faster than normal, giving them the same dopamine hit they get when scrolling through their feeds
- Age-appropriate horror improves focus as new scares lurk around every corner
- Beautiful artwork on every page helps visual learners build context as the story unfolds
- Unexpected endings inspire children to continue with the series so this positive experience become the foundation of a reading habit
Join countless parents and teachers who have watched their kids become avid fans of this exciting new series. Grab your copy of book one today!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The series that has taken an entire generation by storm.
Ride along with Greg Heffley, an ordinary kid trying to make sense of his crazy family, mean teachers, and the ridiculous kids in class. While Greg may never learn from his missteps, his stories provide plenty of lessons for readers along the way.
Big fonts and fun illustrations make this a great starting point for reluctant readers who are intimidated by too much text on the page. Just don't let your kids catch the CHEESE TOUCH! Buy it here.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Already a timeless classic!
Sure to be on any great list, Wonder is a moving story that will capture the imagination of your whole family. This book details the story of Auggie Pullman, a young boy born with facial deformities who enrolls in a public school for the first time. Through his struggles and triumphs, he teaches his new friends about courage, acceptance, and the power of kindness.
This book is a perfect choice for parents who are looking to talk with their kids about the importance of empathy and understanding in our increasingly diverse world. Buy it here.
The Librarian by Eric Hobbs
Twelve-year-old Wesley finds himself at the bottom of his school’s popularity ladder. Even worse, bullies seems to wait around every corner just for him. That’s why Wes lives with his nose in a book. Every read is an opportunity to escape.
But what if we could disappear into a world of books for real?
Young Wesley is about to discover this dream isn’t so crazy. The magic hiding within his local library is waiting to whisk him into a world of fantasy…
But the opportunity for adventure will come with a price.
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
A hilarious piece of historical fiction, this series follows the story of Moose Flanagan, an eleven-year-old boy living with his family on Alcatraz Island during its heyday as a prison. Just trying to survive the drama of daily life on the infamous island, Moose eventually finds himself caught up in the strange events unfolding for Al Capone and the other prisoners on the island.
Kids who love history will delight in this quickly-paced series. Buy it here.
Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona
The first in a captivating series, this popular graphic novel gives boys and girls a chance to experience the Marvel Universe in a brand new way... through the eyes of kids just like them!
Starting with a bang, this story begins when a group of teenagers discovers their parents are part of an evil organization known as the Pride. With their newfound knowledge, the friends must decide whether they will continue in their parents’ footsteps or take a stand against them to save the world.
Perfect for all ages, Runaways is an entertaining read for fans of comic book movies and science fiction. And be sure your kids know to keep an eye out for their favorite MCU characters. They'll be popping up from time to time.
Rebound by Kwame Alexander
A change of pace for young readers who are frustrated with the typical stuff they find on shelves.
From the mind of internationally renowned poet Kwame Alexander, Rebound is a coming-of-age story written entirely in verse. This unique novel follows the story of Charlie Bell, a twelve-year-old boy who bounces back from tragedy with the help of his father's journal, a love of basketball, and a newfound appreciation for family. Buy it here.
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young
Short books can be epic, too!
So can stories about a trip to the store!
Written by the incomparable Neil Gaiman, this beautifully illustrated novel is a quick read about an ordinary dad who finds himself on an extraordinary journey when he heads to the store for a gallon of milk. Along the way, he encounters aliens, pirates, and time-traveling dinosaurs--all of them blocking his path to return home with the milk in time.
Kids will be enthralled by the adventures that await in this whimsical tale with the power to transport them to another world. Buy it here.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
An enjoyable series despite the ominous title.
This fun read follows the Baudelaire orphans as they face countless hardships in the wake of their parents' untimely demise. A great option for kids who are intimidated by the Harry Potter series, but would like to give something similar a try. Buy it here.
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
A regular on the New Your Times bestseller list!
This is the story of Emily Hayes, a young girl who discovers an ancient amulet with mysterious powers. Along with her cousin and their robot friend, Emily embarks on a thrilling quest to save her mother from a strange, fantasy world filled with magical creatures and evil adversaries. As they fight their way through various obstacles, Emily discovers the secret of the amulet and its connection to her past.
A great choice for boys and girls who might be further engaged by beautifully painted art on every page. But be warned, the opening scene is a tear-jerker.
NERDS by Michael Buckley
A fun, light-hearted series for tech-savvy kids!
This action-packed series is a wonderful read for boys and girls looking to immerse themselves in a world of high-stakes espionage. Following the adventures of an unlikely group of kids who have been recruited to form a secret spy organization, this rollicking adventure will keep children hooked as they get sucked into a world of undercover missions. Laugh at these kids as they collaborate to take on the impossible, all while maintaining their unique personalities and clashing in the most hilarious ways.
Guts by Raina Telgemeijer
Raina has become a rockstar creator for a reason.
This heartwarming, slice-of-life graphic novel is a super compelling read about a young girl who is determined to survive middle school with her head held. Through misadventures, friendships, and crushes, our heroine discovers that being brave and facing fears can lead to more fulfilling experiences.
This book is great for students who think they are the only ones struggling to navigate the complicated world of middle school. It's a great way to help your son or daughter learn lessons about exploring one's identity and developing meaningful relationships. Buy it here.