Four Ways Parents Can Support Reading At Home With Young Adolescents

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As students transition from elementary school to middle school, their motivation to read declines. During this transition, students are forced to shift from the pleasure of reading to academic reading to learn new information (Barton, 2018; Kelley & Decker, 2009). In addition, motivating students to read at the high-school level has proven difficult for teachers (Barton, 2018; Jang, Conradi, McKenna & Jones, 2015). When students transition from elementary school to secondary and their motivation to read declines, it begins to affect their performance in school as evidenced by the decline in standardized test scores across the nation (ACT, 2015). The research on secondary reading motivation suggests that elementary students read daily and experience daily, quality, pleasure-reading experiences, but by the time they reach high school, they lose their motivation to read due to inconsistent instructional practices (Barton, 2018; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Morgan & Wagner, 2013; Oldfather & Dahol, 1994).

According to the National Endowment for the Arts (2007), “less than one third of 13 year olds are daily readers” and “the percentage of 17 year olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has doubled over a 20-year period” (p. 7). Unfortunately, parents are unaware when these changes happen and often find out too late when standardized test scores show a low performance in reading.

To decrease these instances, there are four things parents can do at home to motivate their students to read.

1)Let your child see you read for pleasure. Even if it’s a newspaper or a magazine, let your child see you read. The earlier a child witnesses a parent reading for pleasure, the more apt they will be to pick up the habit.

Read for pleasure
Photo by RAHUL SHAH from Pexels

2)Visit libraries and bookstores with your student. Begin this habit with your child as early as possible. If you are on a limited budget, your local library is the best source of reading material for you and your child. Public libraries also often have book clubs, summer reading challenges, and weekly events that encourage reading.

support reading in young adolescents

3)Subscribe to a magazine that your child would like to read or to your local newspaper. Some people like to believe that “book” reading is the only valuable reading. This is not true. Reading magazine articles and the newspaper provides students key skills when reading short text similar to what they read on standardized tests, and fosters the development of vocabulary, word recognition, and understanding of syntax (Merga & Moon, 2016).

Photo by Bruce Mars from Pexels

4)Find out what your child likes to watch on television and find books in a similar genre or themes. As a library media specialist at a high school with 2200+ students, I often come across students who have no idea what they want to read. One of the first questions I ask is, “What is your favorite TV show?” The answer to this question is often the key to unlocking a love of reading they didn’t know they had.

Reading motivation is something that must be nurtured in every child no matter the age. It can not be left up to our educational system to instill a love of reading in our children. As parents, we are our child’s first teacher and it is up to us to not only teach them their 1,2,3’s and abc’s, but foster a love of reading.


ACT Aspire (2015). Retrieved from

Barton, R (2018). The Effect of pleasure reading on ninth and tenth grade student’s reading motivation in an English language arts classroom.

Guthrie, J.T., & Wigfield, A. (2000). Engagement and motivation in reading. In M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson & R. Barr (Eds.) Handbook of reading research (Vol. 3, pp. 403-422). New York: Erlbaum.

Jang, B.G., Conradi, K., McKenna, M.C., & Jones, J.S. (2015). Motivation: Approaching an elusive concept through the factors that shape it. The Reading Teacher, 69(2), 239-247.

Kelley, M., & Decker, E. (2009). The Current state of motivation to read among middle school students. Reading Psychology, 30, 466-485.

Merga, M. K., & Moon, B. (2016). The impact of social influences on high school students’ recreational reading. High School Journal, 99(2), 122. Retrieved from

Morgan, D.N., & Wagner, C.W. (2013). “What’s the catch?” Providing reading choice in a high school classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(8), 659-667.

National Endowment for the Arts. (2007). To read or not to read: A question of national consequence. Research Division Report 47. Washington, DC: National Endowment of the Arts.

Oldfather, P., & Dahl, K. (1994). Toward a social constructivist reconceptualization of intrinsic motivation for literacy learning. Journal of Reading Behavior, 26(2), 139-158.

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Author Bio

Dr. Raquell Barton has been an educator and library media specialist for almost 19 years. She has three children, Torie, Stephanie and Henry, and takes great pride in the fact that she has instilled her love of reading in each of them. She holds degrees in Organizational Management, Library Media & Information Technology and Instructional Design & Technology. In addition, she is the owner of Skyrocket Virtual Solutions where she specializes in Social Media Management, Virtual Assistance and Blog Management for small business owners and entrepreneurs. You can find her latest book review on her blog Confessions of a Book Junkie.

Blog: Confessions of a Book Junkie

Virtual Assistant & Social Media Management – Sky Rocket Virtual Solutions


Twitter: @babygirl_raq

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