A Parent Guide to Reading for Ages 8-10

Between 3rd and 5th grade, children are exposed to a variety of book genres, topics, and formats. Here’s how to keep them interested and engaged.
Dec 17, 2021

Ages

8-10

A Parent Guide to Reading for Ages 8-10

Dec 17, 2021

Between the ages of 8 and 10, children’s reading journeys change dramatically. While they continue to master pronunciation and build vocabulary, they are also expected to read more and understand more complex texts, further testing their comprehension skills and ability to process facts and events. 

Factor in the demands of other classroom subjects, and it’s possible to see why the “decline by nine” phenomenon occurs among children in this age bracket. Decline by nine is the term given to the waning interest children have in reading once they reach age 9 (or thereabouts). Despite 3rd grade being a benchmark for reading proficiency and reading milestones, it’s around this time that reading frequency among kids begins to drop. 

According to Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report, only 35 percent of 9-year-olds report reading five to seven days a week compared to 57 percent of 8-year-olds. Attitudes toward reading change as well: The number of kids who say they love reading drops significantly from 40 percent among 8-year-olds to 28 percent among 9-year-olds.

What’s crucial for parents to know about the decline by nine is that when children’s reading frequency drops, it’s difficult to get them back in the habit. Reading skills that are not mastered by the end of elementary school can be that much harder to develop later in a child’s education. As a parent, you can steer your child’s reading journey to ensure they stay engaged with books.

“Parents play a huge role in helping their child maintain strong reading engagement,” says Kelsey Parrasch, a 4th grade teacher in New Jersey. “There are opportunities to engage with a wide variety of texts to build this.”

Here’s how you can support your child’s reading skills at this age.

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Surround your child with nonfiction and fact-based reading material.

In 4th grade especially, students experience a pivot from building the knowledge to read to reading for knowledge. This is largely due to the introduction of more nonfiction and historical fiction in the classroom, and to students’ increased ability to search for answers in text and connect events.

“Students read a lot more nonfiction in 4th grade than they ever have before,” says Kelly Matthews, a 4th grade teacher in Colorado. “Students are also expected to read at a much higher level when they leave 4th grade versus when they enter. It’s a big transition time for reading. They come in learning to read and leave reading to learn.”

Fill your home with knowledge-based reading materials to sate your child’s burgeoning curiosity in historical events, popular figures, and current events.

Engage with books in front of your child.

Being a reading role model is essential for maintaining your child’s reading engagement. Read books with or in front of your child and they’ll see that you view the activity as fun and important.

“Show kids how important reading is to you,” says Matthews. “Read books on your own and with your child. If a parent shows interest in reading with a child, and not just when they are very little, the child is more likely to have a strong positive feeling about reading in general.”

Acknowledge their growing independence — but ensure it includes a reading routine.

By age 10, your child will have significantly more independence, both as a reader and a young adult. 

“In earlier grades there is much more 'hand-holding,’” says Parrasch. “At this age, students are pushed to begin to advocate more and more for the things that help them to learn and be successful. Students are getting closer to middle school, and they need to have the independence and responsibility needed to succeed there.”

To help nurture your child’s independence but maintain structure in their daily lives, create a reading routine that suits their busy schedule. 

“Students benefit greatly from a regular reading routine that involves at least 30 minutes of daily reading,” Parrasch says. “Ideally, students should be reading a variety of genres — or at the very least, a mix of fiction and nonfiction. Standardized tests often ask students to engage with many genres and reflect on their comprehension.”

Scholastic Executive Editor Amanda Maciel recommends book series for children in this age group. Series are perfect for reluctant readers or readers whose engagement with books could be more consistent.

“This is the sweet spot for series, and for big ideas,” Maciel says. She recommends the Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland, which combines a fantasy setting with strong characters and humor, and the Front Desk books by Kelly Yang — an award-winning series that explores the day-to-day lives of 10-year-old Mia and her immigrant parents who manage the Calivista Motel. 

“Both series tackle social justice in a variety of ways — perfect for readers who are developing a sense of themselves and the world around them,” Maciel says.

It may take some experimenting with the first book in a series to find the right one for your child, but once they finish one they love, they’ll want to continue reading to see what happens next.

Shop popular books for 8- to 10-year-olds below. You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

For more tips on finding books at the right level for your child, visit our guide on reading levels for kids.

Guides to Reading
Age 9
Age 10
Age 8
Literacy