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56% of young people say they read more than 10 books a year, with middle school students reading the most. Some 70% of middle school students read more than 10 books a year, compared with only 49% of high school students. – National Education Association press statement, March 2, 2001

If you read the above statement a certain way, you might be tempted to think there is something magical about middle school. For those of us who have been there and remember it, I think we would all agree that nothing about middle school felt like magic! Awkwardness, acne and all-consuming self-consciousness was more the name of the game.

But I do wonder if there is something about our educational system that allows middle school to be a time when readers flourish, comparatively speaking. Once in high schools, students are saddled with hours of homework assignments to be completed in the evening on a daily basis. This is often on top of existing extracurricular activities like sports, music or school clubs. And then you add in the pressure of university entrance exams like the SAT, combined with mounting college preparatory activities and visits…

After you add up all of those hours: who has time to read in high school?

What do you think? Should we be encouraging kids to spend more time reading and less time on homework activities?


Sarah Forrest is a System Coach for the Easyread System, an online phonics course that helps struggling readers and spellers reach their full potential through Guided Phonetic Reading. Easyread is optimized for children with dyslexia, highly visual learning styles, or auditory processing disorders. Find out more at Share your experience at