Reading Strategies for Middle School Students

Students reading in a library.

Reading strategies for middle school students can help students in their studies across the board. Middle school students are preparing for high school work, which will require considerably more reading and good comprehension skills. It is therefore important to learn about effective reading strategies for both students and teachers.

Current Reading Strategies for Middle School Students

The following strategies have been recommended by AdLit.org, a reading literacy resource for parents and educators. These strategies can help students improve their reading skills and comprehension in all of their school subjects.

Effective Comprehension Strategies

Many children can read quickly, or finish lengthy books. This doesn't mean that they have understood what they have read. As students are developing their reading skills, they also need to learn how to remember what they have read. Teachers can assist their students in acquiring the necessary comprehension strategies in the classroom. Students who learn these strategies can finish their work more quickly and retain the information they have read longer. According to the National Reading Panel, the following comprehension strategies can help students become better readers:

  • Active comprehension monitoring, which leads to strategies for better understanding of the reading material. Know what the student has read and have a strategy planned for better understanding of the concepts presented in the text.
  • Use of graphic organizers, which illustrates interrelationships between concepts and semantic organizers, which link a central concept to related ideas
  • Question generation
  • Summarizing and paraphrasing - have the student discuss what they have read in their own words
  • Selective re-reading

Increase Discussion of Reading Content

The discussion of a book can help students understand the material that they have read. This type of discussion can be teacher-guided, student-led small groups, or between parents and their children. It is believed that the discussion will increase children's analytical skills and encourage them to be readers that are more thoughtful. When parents become involved in their child's education, they can help their student in this area of reading as well. Read the same books that your children are reading and engage them in a discussion about these books. Children will be more likely to do the required reading if their parents are also reading the same book.

Maintain High Standards

Teachers can help to create an environment in which children strive to do their very best. Teachers, who set high standards for literacy outcomes, especially in the areas of reading, discussion, questions and vocabulary, usually have high-achieving classrooms. This can be done by clearly stating what is expected of the students in their classroom. Posters or bulletin boards are good places to list these expectations.Parents can help to maintain high reading standards by requiring their children to set aside time for reading each day, including on the weekend.

Increase Students' Motivation

One of the most important reading strategies for middle school students is to increase a students' motivation to read. Reading comprehension, discussion and high standards won't help a student to excel in reading if they aren't motivated to read in the first place. Students can be encouraged to read more if the text they are reading from is at the correct reading level for them. Nothing is more discouraging than to constantly struggle with the reading material. Students that learn to read from text at the appropriate level will become readers that are more confident and will therefore excel.

Increase Vocabulary

It is no secret that a large and varied vocabulary can help students become better readers and challenge them to read increasingly difficult text. The current recommendation from the National Reading Panel is to increase vocabulary in the following ways:

  • Provide a wide selection of reading material
  • Direct teaching of individual, high-utility words
  • Instruction on how to learn words independently while reading
  • Instruction and activities to increase word consciousness

Activities can include spelling bees, correct use of the word(s) of the day, vocabulary quizzes and students using dictionaries at their desk while reading. Students can look up words they are not familiar with and keep a journal of these words for future reference. Parents can help their children by having current dictionaries available to them while reading at home.


Students who are able to comprehend their reading assignments easily know how to apply learned reading strategies to all of their studies. When students are taught reading strategies in middle school, they have a better chance of reading success in high school and beyond.

Reading Strategies for Middle School Students