Make Reading Cool for Middle School

One of the saddest things in modern education is that reading is going to be extinct soon. With all the handheld devices, sure, kids will know how to read, but will they ever sit down with a real life paper book and read, cover to cover, a great classic? Will everything be on the iPad? Will they only ever read synopsis or wait for the movie or HBO series to come out? One problem is that reading doesn’t seem cool. First of all, it takes forever, when compared to the easily digested moving-picture medium, and you can’t share your successes as easily as you can on say a Facebook wall. So how can you make reading cool again? Here’s how!

1. Let the Children Share

Image: Matthew Paulson via Flickr
Image: Matthew Paulson via Flickr

One thing that makes Facebook so addictive and popular is your ability to share the mundane with everyone and wait for their comments of approval or jealousy pour in. People almost don’t want to do anything anymore unless they can share that they did it, like it doesn’t count if they can’t get it up on their wall. The same mentality can be exploited in the classroom. You could get a banner stand from a cheap online retailer like The Display Outlet and when a kid finishes a book, he or she can post on the banner that the book has been read, almost like on their Facebook wall. That way, their name is broadcast for the others to see and to envy. Yes, so and so finished a book, and now their name is on here and yours can be too.

2. Let them Read the Cool Books

Image: Scott Smith via Flickr
Image: Scott Smith via Flickr

The Harry Potter series got a lot of credit for getting kids reading again, and actually being obsessed with books, something that we all thought would never happen again. There are themes of loss and dark magic in these books, and so some parents might think that they are protecting their kids by not letting them read such books. There’s probably more controversy over other books than just Harry Potter. But the best thing you can do is let the kids read the books that are controversial. If you can let a child feel cool for reading a book that has gotten a lot of attention for dealing with adult matters, that kid will appreciate the reading process all the more and will allow them to be more interested in other books in the future.

3. Set Time Aside for Reading

Image: Nationaal Archief via Flickr
Image: Nationaal Archief via Flickr

If you hope that kids will take up reading all on their own, you will be waiting a long time. Instead, set some actual class time aside for the children to read. Treat it like a reward – this goes along with letting them read books they desperately want to read. Say that if they’re good, you’ll let them read for the last half hour of school, or something like that. And even let them read comic books from time to time. If you are militant about what the children read, they will resent you. Obviously they can’t always read comics, but maybe Thursdays are comic book days, and other days they have to read more traditional novels. Anything to get them reading is good for you and for them.

If you have anything to add, edit or remove from this list, please don’t hesitate to post it in the comment below. Have a nice day!

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