Ya Mama’s Book Club: How to make readers of middle-schoolers

If you want your children to read more you need to lead by example, and let them read what they want, says MCC’s resident bookworm Bessma Bader


What’s the secret of getting children to read? Parents often ask me this and the answer is simple. Firstly, make sure they see you reading; and secondly, have plenty of books around. Never be afraid of overpopulating your home with books!

It’s a great feeling to catch your child awake past bedtime reading under the covers with a flashlight. It’s almost wrong to tell them off for it.

The one thing I would suggest is that you don’t try to dictate what they should read. I bought my children the complete Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton when their choice of reading was leaning more towards Captain Underpants!

My goal is to raise their taste in literature, but I stop myself. It doesn’t matter what they are reading as long as they read. Eventually, they will find their own Secret Seven because one book leads to another.

Currently, I’m stopping myself from forcing my nine-year-old to read something more elevated, and have bought him the whole Dog Man graphic series. At the beginning of his obsession, I wondered if he was just using the books as a way to stay up late. Then someone bought him book four, but it was before he read book three, so he waited until I ordered it for him so he could read them in order. I ended up buying the whole box set!

My recommendations today are for two graphic novels for age groups 8-11, which could be the key to turning your child into a lifelong reader.


Dog Man by Dave Pilkey / Scholastic

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey, published by Scholastic Corporation

From the creator of Captain Underpants (I know – it’s okay. It’s still considered reading), this is a story about a man with the head of a dog, hence the title. We follow the hero as he tries to solve cases and keep his dog half in check while doing so. There are 10 books in the series, and they have kept my sons entertained for hours.


The Last Kids on Earth / Dan Brailler / Viking Books

The Last Kids On Earth: By Max Brailler, published by Viking Books For Young Readers

This series, the seventh so far, has spent a lot of time on the bestseller list and has recently been adapted into a Netflix series. Although it is set in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies and monsters, it doesn’t take the subject seriously and is not frightening in any way. Our protagonist is 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, who moves to a treehouse after zombies invade his hometown. He and his friends band together to defend themselves and their home. 

More and more graphic novels are cropping up for this age range and if you are not sure what to get, then go with any superheroes (Marvel or DC), and I guarantee you cannot go wrong. They are the gateway to reading!



Ya Mama’s Book Club: Books to enjoy and pass down
Ya Mama’s Book Club: Classic stories to fall in love with
Ya Mama’s favourite books to get your kids reading

About the author…

Bessma bint Bader is an avid blogger and qualified parenting coach with a passionate interest in child development and education. She began her popular blog, Ya Mamma, in 2010 where she shares pertinent insights into the trials and tribulations of parenting, inspired by her five young children. 

Since 2010, Bessma has been on the board of Saut as its treasurer – a charitable organization that promotes the welfare of people with Downs Syndrome. She is also on the board of the King Khaled Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the social and economic conditions for thousands of Saudi citizens.

Bessma is also the co-founder and owner of The Playroom – a play center in Riyadh, built around the belief that child-led play fosters creativity, encourages divergent thinking and builds good social skills.


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