What Should Middle Schoolers Read?

A lot of parents ask me what their kids should be reading to get better at English. They basically want the minimum amount of books for the maximum output. Now, if you were a high schooler with no time, I could understand prioritizing classics to satisfy your English class requirements, but this blog post is for lower school and younger middle school kids and their parents.

When I was in seventh grade, I read a few surprisingly moving books called the Origami Yoda series. I was a little old for it, sure, but I didn’t really care about that. As long as I found enjoyment in a book, I would read it. It also didn’t matter that it was a graphic novel. I actually see pictures as a perk and have picked up several novels (like the Leviathan Trilogy and The Wondla Trilogy) simply because they had pictures in them, though the good writing was what made me stay.

My point is that you shouldn’t discourage your kids from reading comics and graphic novels⁠—or anything else for that matter. By encouraging them to read across all genres, they’ll be able to better appreciate what makes each book unique. Pantheon, for example, is considered genre fiction as opposed to literary fiction. This means that it places more value on entertainment than “meaning and art.” You’ll have a hard time truly grasping that difference unless you’ve read books from both categories, and they’re only the beginning. There’s sci-fi, crime, romance, Western, fantasy, historical fiction, inspirational, horror, nonfiction, and their subgenres.

Let’s say your kid wants to be an author (or you are that kid). How will you know what resonates with you unless you’ve seen it before? When you write, you want it to be something you’re passionate about. Trying to craft the next classic is admirable, but don’t do it because you’ve only been exposed to works like To Kill a Mockingbird and Shakespeare stuff.

To conclude, encourage your kids to read everything. I recommend The Illuminae Files series if your kid likes piecing together puzzles, futuristic space adventures, and emotional rollercoasters. They’ll get an instinctive grasp of grammar, voice, and a lot of other stuff that’ll make learning about them much easier, as if they only have to put their knowledge into words.

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