Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Reading Strategies for Strugging Readers in Middle School

So who is reading what at your house this summer? 

Frankly, my reading stack is always high. But it seems like I always have some sort of goal during the summer. Last summer I read through one of my favorite mystery novelists books. In order.
I’m not sure what direction I am going this summer. I need some inspiration. I like themes, collections, etc. 

I tend to treat Josiah’s summer reading list the same way. He, himself, is a great fan of collections.
This year we have reached a whole new world. Josiah had to sign up for the Teen Summer Reading Program at the Library. 


I’m not ready for this Middle School stuff. 

I was just in Middle School myself. 

We are also in an awkward phase concerning all things reading. As you might know, Josiah is dyslexic. I do require him to do free reading on his own, but often the books that are at his level intellectual or interest wise are too difficult or overwhelming for him to manage. And the ones that are easily managed are too babyish in his opinion. 

There are a few different ways we have stepped into this whole new world. I say “stepped.” I’m going into Josiah’s teenage years kicking and screaming. He’s still my baby. 

 I still have a book I read aloud every day. I don’t want him to miss out on the good stuff. I want him to get shipwrecked on the island with Robinson Crusoe, paint a fence with Tom Sawyer and travel through Middle Earth. 

I will never tire of the classics. 

Something else I do is to pair an Audio Book with a print copy. Currently, Josiah is interested in reading Eragon. He found an old PS2 Eragon game at a Thrift Store and dug out our copy of the movie (which is hardly resembles the book in my opinion). I downloaded the book from Audible with some free credits I had. He will start with Eragon after Cousin Camp. 

I need to mention that we really enjoy the fantasy genre (like Eragon, etc.). I personally don’t have an issue with dragons and the like. In fact, I like them. I’ve never met one in person….But you know what I mean. 

I do make a habit of reading books before I introduce them to Josiah. I am pickier about certain attitudes and behaviors (character) than I am about dragons and magic. 

I don’t do sassy. And if the character is sassy there better be  consequences and redemption. 

Enough of that. I didn’t mean to go down that particular rabbit trail. Don’t get me started.

Another method I employ is for Josiah and I to take turns reading aloud. This takes a bit longer, but if I can chose a book that moves quickly and is broken up in manageable sections it is doable. Hatchet is a good book for boys. I have a few copies (it is easy to find) and the book isn’t a lengthy one.

Hatchet is about a boy who, after a plane crash, has to survive in the wilderness with only a hatchet his mother gave him. There is an adventure a minute. There also isn’t a lot of dialogue so the paragraphs are easily defined.

In the past year or so I have been assigning Josiah a book to read on his own. This was a big deal. I wanted to make sure that he was challenged, but not to the point that it was frustrating for him.  I found that he loves The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series. The text is easy for him to manage and he is always entertained.

I can't begin to tell you how much this has done for his confidence. Sure. He can't do marathon reading, but it does my heart good to see him stretched out on the couch with a book in his hand.

This method of reading is called High Interest /Low Reading Level. It means that you must find reading material that is at a reading level your struggling reader can manage yet the material in the book will appeal to an older child. 

This article discusses this idea a bit more (though I'm not sure there the term High/Low is used). There is also a helpful link to a booklist. 

This link has a good list of books with their reading level and what ages will find them interesting.

Now I'm off to find something to read. Suggestions anyone?

You can check out more Summer Reads for Middle School by clicking the banner below. 

Summer Reading for Middle Grades


  1. My daughter devours books. As in, she's going to need to get a job to keep up with her Kindle wishlist. My boys - they would rather be boiled in oil. LOL Matthew is currently reading Mockingjay - perhaps not what I would have chosen for him, but he likes it, he wants to read it, and so I'm just going with it because it's a book he'll stick his nose in. :) We're doing a lot of audiobooks as well - it makes dialect in Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer so much easier!

    1. My own personal Kindle wishlist is enormous. I agree about the audio books for Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer. Especially with my dyslexic boy.

  2. oh! I have a series for you to check out! (Actually a couple sound good for your situation)... The dragon series in my post is written from two points of view off an on... could work well with your Mom read/Josiah read plan... ? (And they are just great stories!)

    I think you might enjoy some of the others in my list as read alouds~ we did the Viking series as a read aloud a couple of years ago~ She just turned 17, but this is *still* one of her most favorite series ever~


    If you pop over to take a look, I'd love to hear from you, and if you try the dragon books, please let me know how it goes! :)

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I'm popping over now :<)

  3. Thank you-some really useful ideas. We struggle to manage expectation. My struggling reader would love to read some books well over her level-I suspect that reading aloud/audio books are the way to tackle these and use simpler books to encourage personal reading.

  4. Has your son tried reading any books by Sigmund Brouwer. They're high interest and the reading level is fairly easy. My younger son ABSOLUTELY LOVED THEM! Also, he might like TJ and the Time Stumblers by Bill Myers. Fun stuff. :)


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