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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Encouraging Readers in Middle School

We have a thirteen year old who is very behind in his reading skills. Although he has greatly improved this year, he is still testing about one grade below his current grade level.  We are going to be homeschooling him to catch him up in all areas of Language Arts.  We are excited about finding your products (from the Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews).  Our question is this:  Is it beneficial to choose books that he is already familiar with (ones that he has read before or seen the movie?) or should we choose books that are new to him?   What is your opinion? We don't want to overwhelm him or make reading a chore, but we also want to take this opportunity to challenge him enough; improving his skills.

Thank you for your kind attention,

Andrew and Jennifer 

Dear Andrew and Jennifer,
Your son sounds perfectly normal for his age, where reading levels vary widely. Having talked with many parents over the years, I think that choosing only 3 or so guides to study for the year (instead of 4) and then reading many fun books beyond those analyzed will be the best encouragement for more enjoyable reading.  If I were you, I would choose one of each, perhaps one title that he has read and really enjoyed, one title that he has only seen the movie for, and one title that is new and challenging him a bit. In this way, he feels invested in the guides chosen and will enjoy learning literary technique and critical thinking with stories he enjoys, yet he can stretch and challenge himself with one title that is new and perhaps harder than the other two.



  1. Rebecca,
    This is our 2nd year homeschooling. I have 3 girls, the oldest being a freshman this year. I have her taking the basic subjects; Math, Science, English, History. The History Curriculum comes with a literature credit, but I did not go that route. Since she's my first homeschooling through HS, I need to make sure she gets enough credits for college. A friend who also homeschools suggested Progeny Press for my daughters Literature. How many books should I have her complete (what does she need) in order to get a full credit for her freshman year? I just planned on getting her started in the 2nd semester and she's a very quick reader and enjoys reading. Thank you for your advice and help.

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    For a full credit for her freshman year, she needs to complete four study guides. You can choose American Lit titles, or British Lit titles, or just titles that go well with what she is covering in History this year!


Have a similar issue or question? Let me know and I will be more than happy to help out!