My friend Isra says her 8-year-old son is a reluctant reader. He likes Diary of a Wimpy Kid but now he’s exhausted that series so here are more! Books to appeal to an eight-year-old reluctant boy reader!
More Books Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for Boys
Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look
My son thought this series was hysterically funny. Alvin is a boy who is nervous about a lot of things including girls, camping, school, and science projects. Set in Concord, Massachusetts, Isra’s son might also enjoy this Massachusetts connection!
Ninjago Early Chapter Book series: Kai Ninja of Fire, Zane Ninja of Ice, Jay Ninja of Lightning, Cole Ninja of Earth from Scholastic
I will confess that I wasn’t too eager to read these to my son but he insisted and they turned out to be pretty engaging stories, even for me, who had never watched Ninjago on tv nor played with the lego sets. But if your child already likes Ninjago, then run with this! There are also Ninjago graphic novels. My library, unfortunately, doesn’t carry this “fluff” but I was able to get them from another library in our system.
There are less illustrations in this series than in Dairy of a Wimpy Kid but what kept my son reading this series is: 1) dragons (he likes dragons), 2) amusing adventures, and 3) funny dragon characters. It’s a great series to hook reluctant young readers and you might try these as a read-aloud or shared reading if the word-filled pages are too intimidating. I usually read all full pages out loud to my son and he reads the partial page at the end of each chapter (which is to say that I do most of the heavy lifting).
Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight
The first Frankie Pickle book had just come out when my son was in 2nd grade and waited impatiently for the next one, but by the time it came out, he already moved on to Percy Jackson and that took over his full attention for two years. My son really loved the first Frankie Pickle book and I loved how this series is very appealing to reluctant readers. There are plenty of illustrations; there are graphic novel pages within the story, and the font size and line spacing are larger than is typical.
Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Stomps the Snow by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Miguel Benítez
I really love this early chapter book series starring Hispanic Freddie Ramos whose shoes give him superpowers turning him into an almost full-fledged superhero. In this book, Freddie needs a new version of super shoes to help with a blizzard and stop a thief.
Graphic Novels: Gateway to Reading
Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce
I feel like Big Nate books are a right of passage for boys. It seems like every single boy I know has enjoyed a few of these at some point whether in elementary school or even middle school. It’s good clean fun and funny to boot.
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
My son likes potty humor and the Captain Underpants series certainly delivers. When my son finished this series, he moved on to a few other books by Dav Pilkey including his caveman graphic novel and the super baby one. He enjoyed and recommends all of them!
We only found a few of these graphic novels in our library — graphic novels are very popular! — and I found the plot hard to follow but my son did not have that problem. We read the graphic novels alongside the Ninjago chapter books (and watched the cartoon and played with the legos). It was all Ninjago, all the time for a short while.
Percy Jackson Graphic Novel
This is what you do if your son’s friend is racing through the Percy Jackson series and your child feels left out. My son’s friends also started acting out the books at recess which make it even more imperative to read the books. If the Percy Jackson chapter book is too overwhelming — they are actually YA books! — then try the graphic novel. The characters look like teenagers in the graphic novel but it stays true to the plot. Also, try the Percy Jackson audiobooks. You can find those at your library too!
Sidekicks by Dan Santat
My son loves superheroes and this is a fun graphic novel that is a sweet story of pets who want to be their human’s superhero sidekick and the lengths they go to show him that they can do the job.
Mom Made Us Write This in the Summer by Ali Maier
A fun notebook novel idea: twin siblings forced to keep a journal because mom thinks they are incredible and talented writers. 10-year-old Max and Maggie also have to share a journal, alternating their points of view as they also “edit” each other’s work.
Non Fiction: Hook Them by Targeting Their Interests
Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King
My son is reading this book now as a 4th grader but the short chapter with extension activities would work for an 8-year-old too. It’s a funny running commentary on superheroes, both famous and obscure, from DC and Marvel comics. Corny jokes — my son’s favorite kind — and interesting factoids are peppered throughout the book too.
Guinness World Records
You don’t even need a recent copy of this book to get boys hooked. The illustrations and the ability to flip around the book make it a sure-fire way to get boys reading. Try it. It’s never failed me!
Ripley’s Believe it or Not
Interest in Guinness Book of World Records winding down? Now’s the time to introduce Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
101 Most Disgusting Things on the Planet series by Anna Claybourne
The layout and narrowness of this book series contribute to this book’s appeal, I think. My son always buys a book from this series at the school book fair. It’s another book that you can flip around and read whatever page catches your eye which also makes it a great bedtime book when you don’t have a lot of time to read.
National Geographic Almanac
Teach Mama said this was the hit of her summer reading pile with her kids. That’s an endorsement that I can’t resist. I bought my son a copy and he read it happily for months!
Reading Strategies to Try
Book Club for Boys: I have a series of posts documenting our Book Club for Boys (and Girls). I will attest to the power of peer pressure in getting boys to try new books!
Shared Reading: You read a little and I read a little. Sometimes getting a child over the hump of reading means that you, the adult, have to do the heavy lifting. That’s ok! Research shows that just listening to a book read out loud has the same benefit as a child reading it by himself.
Read to Dog: Some libraries have a literacy program where a child can read to a [non-judgemental] dog. My library doesn’t have this program but now we do have a dog. Try it with a pet or a stuffed animal.
Book Tasting: Get a group of boys around a table with a small pile of books and have them try each book for a short period of time and then … ding … switch books. At the end of the session, pick the books that appeal to check out and take home.
Audio Books: Audiobooks are expensive so try your library first. If you tire of reading aloud, switch on an audiobook. Try it while following along with the paper book or in the car.
Visit the Library, Book Store, and Tag Sales: Select new books on an ongoing basis. Try a different library than your towns. Just visit one section — we just to make a beeline for the graphic novel section or the Scholastic TV series books and choose books for 5 minutes and head out.
What books or reading strategies have worked for your kids? Please share!!
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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.