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SKL

Summer Reading / Middle Schoolers / Slow Readers

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Just chatting about "what are your middle schoolers doing this summer," and a lot of people are saying "summer reading."

I'm all for it - but I'm not sure how much I should insist on actual reading (with the eyes) vs. audiobooks.

For June, I signed my kids up for a Brave Writer course that uses To Kill a Mockingbird.  One of my kids is likely to struggle to finish that book in between all the other demands and desires - and I will not be able to sit and force it - nor do I want to at their age (12, going into 8th).  I'm thinking audiobook.  Not yet sure about July and August.

But do kids this age "need" to practice reading with their eyes?  Do I need to push it over the summer?

I have bought some workbooks I intend to push, which do include some reading passages.  Is that enough for me to require?

Kid does enjoy reading if it's her choice, but she will take a long time to finish a book, and has started many that she did not finish.

She has a vision exam later this month to see if she needs more vision therapy.

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Yes, they do need to practice.  Practice builds fluency.  And 8th grade has lit, as well as nonfic science reading, right?

Does your school have a required summer reading list? That's what most people mean when they say 'summer reading'.   Feel free to count everything, Bible, magazine, Newspaper op-ed, etc.  It is nice though to be in the habit of reading a page turner of one's choice for half an hour daily....

JIm Trelease's take on summer reading is here:  http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/summer-reading.pdf

Edited by HeighHo
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She may need to practice reading, but there's no reason it can't be from books and magazines that she actually enjoys.  If she's an auditory learner, I have no problem with her listening to the audiobook of the "required reading."  FWIW, we just watched the movie for To Kill a Mockingbird, because we're too busy to be reading it but I wanted exposure.  (although I am aware that it differs a bit from the book)

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I let my rising sixth grader do his required summer reading using audible last summer. He had a copy of the book that he read along with, too, but letting him listen was a good thing for him. My plan is to let him do that again this summer. 

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Our library has summer reading programs with incentives that go up through high school. All my kids have library cards, and we go to the library approximately weekly. I have one voracious reader (age 11), one somewhat enthusiastic reader (age 13) and one reluctant reader (age 7). I never force them to check out a certain number of books. More often I have to limit, in the interest of limiting future fines. I know they don’t read all they check out, but neither do I.  I suggest books often, but don’t force any summer reading choices. I also limit screen time even in summer. Sometimes I enforce a quiet time after lunch and we all read. I’m very sure that all combined, it ensures they read more than they would otherwise, especially for the non-voracious readers.

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Re: audiobooks - we listen to them in the car, while cleaning, and randomly at other times. I do want them to not just “read” by audio, but it does help build vocabulary and ability to follow a story. I also read aloud a fair bit, and I don’t think there's a big difference between that and an audiobook, except I am much worse at accents than professional readers.

eta: and audiobook readers don’t stop and give impromptu vocabulary and history quizzes and lectures as they read, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on if you ask me or my kids. 🙂

Edited by emba56
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How about fiction? Do they like popular authors? Let them read as many fictional books for tweens as they would like to. Libraries in schools publish annual summer reading recommendations based on grades. Those would be a good place to start. My son likes to re-read old favorites like Riordan, Harry Potter etc because he forgets a lot and I consider that reading as well. Comics, manga etc are also reading material.

I assign 1 classic, 1 biography and 1 science fiction every summer and the rest is self selected by my son.

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1 hour ago, mathnerd said:

How about fiction? Do they like popular authors? Let them read as many fictional books for tweens as they would like to. Libraries in schools publish annual summer reading recommendations based on grades. Those would be a good place to start. My son likes to re-read old favorites like Riordan, Harry Potter etc because he forgets a lot and I consider that reading as well. Comics, manga etc are also reading material.

I assign 1 classic, 1 biography and 1 science fiction every summer and the rest is self selected by my son.

3 books would be a mega stretch goal for my eldest to read "with her eyes."  Sigh.

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4 minutes ago, SKL said:

3 books would be a mega stretch goal for my eldest to read "with her eyes."  Sigh.

 

A book a month.  About 10 pages daily.  If you'd like suggestions, just wave, you'll get  a zillion.   

Maybe:

HIstorical Fiction

EL Konigsburg A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Minerver

Elizabeth Speare  The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Avi True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

 

How does she do with a kindle in large print?

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For To Kill a Mockingbird, I would definitely use the audio version for a reluctant reader. It would be a stretch for my reluctant reader to tackle an adult book (he's newly 15 and will be going into 9th grade) without support. That book is assigned in schools around 9th grade, but it has some things that can be difficult -- dialect, inference, descriptive language, complex characters, and adult themes.

I personally would hesitate to assign it for a 12 year old reluctant reader. Can you read it yourself ahead of time, so that you can discuss it? Or watch the movie together before you start to read. Sometimes people think that watching the movie in advance of reading spoils the book, but it can be helpful for a reluctant reader to have that kind of head start.

For my own kids, I require 20-30 minutes of reading time daily in the summer, because, sadly, they won't do it otherwise. They have a say in what they read, but I do provide some choices that I think they would like (I used to work in the teen section of a library). They grumble, but I still make them do it. 

This summer -- my kids will hate this -- I also plan to have them read aloud to me a bit, because they need to work on their oral fluency. Or I may have them read to the dog. 😉

I also assign my high schooler a summer reading book, because her school does not.

I think reading with the eyes is important to practice over the summer months, personally. I would try to mix some of that in, even if you have her read from a magazine, newspaper, or her choice of tween popular fare.

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1 hour ago, SKL said:

3 books would be a mega stretch goal for my eldest to read "with her eyes."  Sigh.

could you get her large print versions of the books that you assign? I have found everything in large print including bestsellers. Another idea is to give her a kindle or ereader on a tablet where she can zoom in for a larger font so that it eases her reading discomfort. When my son was a young reader of chapter books, he could only read them zoomed in using his tablet because the print in the books was hard to deal with at that age. So, that could be an idea to pursue.

"To Kill a Mocking Bird" would be a hard book to handle for a reluctant reader. Could you do a read aloud with her before the course starts so that she can spend her effort on the analysis rather than finishing the assigned reading?

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If she's into nonfiction they are lots of shorter nonfiction books in the juvenile nonfiction section that have lots of pictures and might be easier to get through (if the subjec t interests her). Also maybe look into short story collections, so that reading only part of the whole book would still be completing something.

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I would absolutely let her listen to Mockingbird and I would encourage other audiobooks of her choice. 

She will be doing the same work of comprehension with an audiobook as she would with a printed book. If listening is her preference, if listening can be done more easily while driving in the car or folding laundry, if her ears get less fatigued than her eyes, then an audiobook can be a huge benefit. There is no benefit to forcing her to struggle through visually reading it if the audio is going to help her get if finished and help her get more out of the class. 

Do older readers need to practice reading with their eyes? Yes, in the sense that everyone's decoding skills get better or stay sharper with practice. Does she need to practice reading this book, or every book, with her eyes? Nope. The point of reading this book in particular is so she can understand the stories and characters, and discuss and write about it meaningfully. Decoding practice is absolutely not the main point. 

Do you need to push visual decoding practice over the summer? Personally, I would encourage but not push. Have choices available that you think will appeal to her, have some that are short, and plenty that are easy (reading below level is a great way to build fluency). If the encouragement doesn't work out as well as you hoped, oh well - she'll be back in school soon enough, with plenty of forced reading and decoding practice. 

 I love to visually read and have a house full of printed books. I love to listen to audiobooks and have a hard drive full of files. I hate giving gold stars for reading, requiring so many minutes of reading, accumulating Accelerated Reader points, and anything that turns reading into one more chore on the checklist. And the science on audio books being worthy seems quite solid to me, so I wouldn't worry about it at all. You're not burning down libraries, you're offering her a choice for some of her reading. 

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16 hours ago, Erica in OR said:

Susan Wise Bauer just posted on this yesterday on her Facebook page (the extreme condensed version of it is "No, audiobooks are not cheating," in response to this article from thecut.com.

Erica in OR

Thanks - that's really what I wanted to know.  So middle school is generally past the age when you "need" to practice eye reading ....

We listen to audibooks together, and I know my kid is listening with her brain, by the way she keeps pausing it to ask questions.  Her comprehension is pretty good whether she reads with her eyes or with her ears.  But we do audiobooks at times when she isn't busy doing something else (usually in the car).  Paper books have to compete with all the other fun stuff in her room - I don't sit and monitor to make sure her eyes never leave the page.

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Its fine for her eyes to leave the page when she is reading.  That is part of good health.  The rule is called 20-20-20. At least every 20 minutes, look away from the book for at least 20 seconds, at something at least 20 feet away.  Walk around, give eyes a rest. It presumes the print is large enough not to cause eyestrain and there is enough light on the page.  I don't read for twenty minutes straight, I often digest a scene as I give my eyes their break and blink, blink, blink.

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“The decoding process does become automatic once you’ve passed a certain level of reading proficiency, but you can become even better at this well into adulthood — and the only way to get better is by reading. The improvements are small (“infinitesimal,” as Willingham put it) but they are there, and up for the grabs for a reader. Comprehension, too, is something that improves the more you ”

I quote this bit from the article not because I think you’re making the wrong choice letting your DD listen to the audio of To Kill a Mockingbird, but because I find it interesting that even in adulthood there can be benefits to reading on paper. For my DD, comprehension is still sometimes a problem, so I’m thinking that requiring paper reading is still useful ( and that in reluctant/unskilled readers that threshold of reading oroficiency reached in middle school by most kids may be reached later).  What do others here think?

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On May 2, 2019 at 11:24 AM, SKL said:

For June, I signed my kids up for a Brave Writer course that uses To Kill a Mockingbird. 

If your goal is for her to enjoy the book, it sounds like she should use the audio. She could listen to the audio while she reads along with a paper copy or she could use the Kindle Immersion Reading option.

On May 2, 2019 at 11:24 AM, SKL said:

She has a vision exam later this month to see if she needs more vision therapy.

This is always good and checking for retained reflexes that might have gotten missed. Is she diagnosed dyslexic? The other thing to do, if it hasn't been done, is work on RAN/RAS. It's typically low in dyslexics and strong RAN/RAS is HIGHLY correlated with strong readers. It's not going to turn her into a book lover, haha, but it may get a hurdle out of the way. And it's simple and basically free to work on.

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On 5/2/2019 at 10:38 PM, Erica in OR said:

Susan Wise Bauer just posted on this yesterday on her Facebook page (the extreme condensed version of it is "No, audiobooks are not cheating," in response to this article from thecut.com.

Erica in OR

Erica, 

Thanks for your post.

The link from The Cut did not work for me. Here is a direct link to the article ~  https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/listening-to-a-book-instead-of-reading-isnt-cheating.html

Regards,

Kareni

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7 hours ago, Kareni said:

Erica, 

Thanks for your post.

The link from The Cut did not work for me. Here is a direct link to the article ~  https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/listening-to-a-book-instead-of-reading-isnt-cheating.html

Regards,

Kareni

 

Thanks - not sure what happened to the first link. I edited it to use the link you shared.

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