This wonderful list of books is from author Maria Scheel. You can find her blog by clicking here. Her full post can be found here.
“I believe that all it takes to create a reader is the right book. Finding that tale is the trick.
So how do you pick books that will hook reluctant readers? Each child is different, with very particular tastes. Nevertheless, here are some key elements that engage child readers, along with some suggested titles.
Getting Kids Who Hate Reading to Love It
Whether you hate or love Captain Underpants, you can’t deny that his humor captures readers – especially boys. Kids love to laugh, and if you can put funny books in their hands, they’ll keep gobbling ‘em up. (This is an especially good strategy for getting reluctant boys to read.)
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
Time Warp Trio seriesby Jon Scieszka
Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery series by Deborah and James Howe
The Chet Gecko Mysteries by Bruce Hale
Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money by Christopher Paul Curtis
SYMPATHETIC CHARACTERS, ACCESSIBLE WRITING
Whatever genre the story falls into, it must have a main character that the reader claims as a friend. And just as important, the tale must be told in concise, vigorous writing. Reluctant readers don’t have the patience to slog through lengthy or convoluted prose.
Amber Brown series by Paula Danziger
Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
The Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Superfudge by Judy Blume
Kids love books that take a compelling “what if” (what if a treehouse was a time machine? what if a boy went to wizard school?) and spin out a story. Alternate worlds, magical happenings, extraterrestrials – all of these can capture the unmotivated reader’s imagination.
Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Bartimeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
My Teacher Is an Alien by Bruce Coville
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
With so much competition from movies, TV and videogames, books must move if they want to entice. Slow-paced stories are fine for more experienced readers, but reluctant readers need books that hit the ground running.
Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
The Redwall books by Brian Jacques
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
THE PROMISE THAT SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN
This is why we all read, to see what happens next in the story. A book that builds suspense early on and maintains it will keep kids reading.
Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate
Holes by Louis Sachar
Matt Christopher Sports Series by Matt Christopher
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine
Series are training-wheel books. They provide familiar characters in a familiar world that’s easier to lose yourself in with each new title. Chapter book series build literacy skills and create new readers.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan
The Magic Schoolbus series by Joanna Cole
Graphic novels, manga, and comic books, with their strong visual content, will hook plenty of reluctant readers – especially boys and ESL readers. These books can serve as a stepping-stone to longer fiction.
Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai
Bone by Jeff Smith
Groo the Wanderer by Sergio Aragones
Babymouse by Jennifer and Matthew Holm
Some reluctant readers don’t want fantasy; they want the real world. If we take the time to give them books with multicultural characters they can identify with, those readers will respond.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis
Who Am I Without Him? Sharon Flake (YA)”
p.s. Related posts:
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.