How to Instill Reading Habits in Your Middle-Grade Reader

There’s so much we hope our children will inherit and learn from us. Whether it’s your laugh, your eyes, your courage, or your love of mac and cheese, it’s almost certainly your love of reading. If your kiddo hasn’t quite gotten the memo yet, that’s okay. Everyone comes to discover the joy of literature on their own timeline. 

But if you’re hoping to give them a nudge in the right direction, here are some helpful techniques to instill lifelong reading habits in your middle grader.

#1 Lead By Example

5 Ways to Be a Reading Role Model | Scholastic | Parents

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Here’s the good news: this strategy means more reading for you. Hello, did someone say two birds with one stone

Studies have shown that children—and even adults—are quick to imitate the behaviors of others, without explicit instruction or pressure to copy. The same can apply to reading! If your middle-grade reader hasn’t developed that literary love you’ve been longing for, it’s not too late to start modeling reading behaviors you want to see.

Even better? Read the same book as your child so you can discuss it together. Now, they’re not just copying you, they’re doing something with you.

Middle-grade books that parents will love, too: 

  • A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon

#2 Turn Reading Into A Full Experience

5 ways to create a cozy reading nook for kids

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If your child is in the “but Mom, sitting and reading is just so boring!” camp, then it’s time to turn a casual sit-on-the-couch-in-silence activity into an enticing escape or an all-out affair.

What does that look like in real life? Try pairing the simple act of reading with some above-and-beyond fun:

  • Create a super comfy reading nook that you and your children can hide out in together as you enjoy your latest read. Add hot cocoa or tea to amplify the coziness.
  • For the ultra-competitive kids, turn reading into a game, such as who can finish their chapter first or read the most pages in the next 30 minutes. 
  • Carve out time to make it feel special, like a treat or an escape. Why not swap out those Saturday morning cartoons with Saturday morning books

Feel-good middle-grade books for a cozy weekend read:

  • A Wolf Called Wonder
  • Roll With It
  • Hello, Universe

#3 Read A Little Everyday to Form A Habit for Life

3 Ways to Use Timers to Encourage Homework and Chore Completion

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Some kids fall in love with a good book and read it every day until they’re through. But other kids might require the reverse approach—reading every day until they fall in love with it, or at the very least until the behavior becomes automatic. 

But even still, the goal isn’t to trick your child into reflex-reading like a literary robot, it’s to get them genuinely hooked on the wonderful worlds and charismatic characters found inside a good book. If you can get your child to read every day, even if just for a few minutes before bed or on the way to school, they’ll eventually repeat the behavior without a second thought, until they realize that what started as a habit is actually something they really enjoy—fingers crossed! 

Middle-grade books to enjoy in bite-sized chunks:

  • Famous Phonies: Legends, Fakes, and Frauds Who Changed History
  • Two Truths and a Lie: Forces of Nature
  • Dear Sister

#4 Prioritize the Act Over the Content

If your middle schooler is just now discovering the joys of reading, remember this mantra: every book is a good book. They might not gravitate to the most sophisticated series or the novel you were hoping they’d fall in love with, but a book is a book, no matter how small (case in point: Horton Hears a Who!). 

By getting something—anything—into their hands, you’ll be encouraging reading behavior. You can always open the door to more exciting and advanced novels later on, but starting small is a great first step, whether it’s an early chapter book, graphic novel, or even an activity book. 

Middle-grade books that make a great starting point:

  • The Brainiest Insaniest Ultimate Puzzle Book!
  • Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School)
  • Marty Pants #1: Do Not Open!

#5 Explore A Wide Range of Books—Try Literati’s Club Phoenix!

There is a book out there for everyone, they just might not have found it yet. If that seems to be the case with your child, there’s no use trying to get them hooked on books they clearly don’t care for. You need to find stories that speak to them. But how? 

How about a kids’ book subscription of five amazing books?

Literati’s Club Phoenix subscription box arrives each month with a themed assortment of the best books for third graders to seventh graders. Your kid can keep the best and send back the rest. Pretty soon, you’ll notice they’re asking to keep more and more of their book box each month. That just means these tips are working—hello, reading habits for life!

Make Reading a Habit with Literati

For your child, getting into the habit of reading takes practice, like learning to whistle or nailing the macarena. Hopefully these tips and tricks will inspire your middle-grade reader to reach for a book a bit more often. And who knows, maybe the whole family will start reading more together!

But sometimes, the key to good reading habits is finding the right story—for that, you can always rely on Literati


PLOS ONE. Social Learning in the Real-World: ‘Over-Imitation’ Occurs in Both Children and Adults Unaware of Participation in an Experiment and Independently of Social Interaction.

On Key

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