How to Teach My 12-Year-Old to Read Better: Reading Help Tips

Active readers engage with the text as they read. They predict what the story or chapter will be about and what will happen next. Active readers also review what they've read so far and consider how it fits into the overall story structure. If your child is struggling to understand what he reads, use the following tips and exercises to help him become an active reader.

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Tips for Helping Your 12-Year-Old Read

Pre-Reading Techniques

Before jumping into a book, help your child look through the material and predict what the story will be about. Look at the title, the front cover and any pictures that are included. The goal is to familiarize your child with the text, so she knows what to expect. If necessary, you might have to establish a historical context for the story or activate prior knowledge about a culture.

Make Connections

Students generally become more active readers if they make a personal connection with the text. To that end, ask your child, 'Does the main character remind you of anyone you know?' or 'Has anything in the text reminded you of something you've seen in real life?' Encourage him to look for similarities between his life and the main character's life as he reads. Universal themes, like love, jealousy and ambition, help kids engage more deeply with a text because they can identify with the emotions.


Sometimes, if students aren't interested in the book or if the story is especially long, they forget basic plot points. To avoid this, have your child stop every few pages and summarize - in her own words - what happened. The goal of this exercise is to identify the main events. If your child knows she'll have to tell you what's happened, then she'll be more likely to read the text closely.

Take Notes

Similar to above activity, have your child record the main events of each chapter immediately after reading it. This exercise will help him review the content and will also hold him accountable to reading actively.

In 7th grade, students have to analyze figurative language and determine its purpose in the story. As your child reads, he should underline instances of figurative language, such as alliteration, metaphors and similes. That way, when he has to analyze this language later, he'll be able to quickly locate it.

Real-World Application

Challenge your child to find a real-world connection to the story. This exercise can be challenging because it requires students to identify the main themes and conflicts in the story and draw parallels to real-life instances. Once your child has located a newspaper article describing a similar event, help her make comparisons. For instance, you might ask what the main character of the story would have done in this situation.

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