Roundup of Books That Appeal to Reluctant Readers
I love books. I have always loved books. I used to read with a flashlight under the covers as a kid. I used to read during the seven hour road trip we took every year. My husband also enjoys reading. He has stacks and stacks of books on his nightstand, on shelves, pretty much everywhere. I actually switched to e-books after marrying my husband because there was no room for both of our books in our small home.
Unfortunately, my seven year old doesn’t share our love for reading. He used to enjoy books when he was younger and we read to him. We used to take books to restaurants and he would happily flip through books during our meals. Once he started learning to read, it took the joy out of books for him, which truly breaks my heart.
My son is a perfectionist (like me) and doesn’t like to do things he isn’t good at. He’s a perfectly fine reader. He reads at his grade level, but reading isn’t easy when you’re learning so he shies away from it. Books have become a chore.
Books for Reluctant (Boy) Readers
At first, I resisted the super hero, Ninjago and Star Wars books. I wanted my son to want to read books with more substance. Then I realized, it doesn’t matter what books he’s reading, as long as he’s reading. I still try to get books that are outside his normal interest, but I always make sure to pick books that he’ll want to read.
- Giants Beware, Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado: I saw this book on a list of books for young readers and decided to give it a shot. We laughed through the entire book. My son liked all of the characters and I liked that the main hero was a girl. It is a graphic novel, which I personally don’t love, but my son loves all of the pictures and the artwork was done really well.
- Nate the Great and Me: The Case of the Fleeing Fang, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat: There is an entire Nate the Great series, which I plan to check out with my son. We recently read this and he was so interested in figuring out the case that we finished the entire 60-ish page book in one sitting. This is extremely unusual for my son. He usually watches the clock so he can go back to playing. He figured out the case before the book ended, so he was really proud of his detective skills.
- Flat Stanley The Amazing Mexican Secret, Josh Greenhut and Macky Pamintuan: This is also a book series and we’ve read a few in the series. They’re funny and imaginative and my son has enjoyed all of the books we’ve read so far. When I was hunting for the title, I see that there’s a Japanese Samurai book that I’ll definitely be picking up since my son loves ninjas.
- Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles Trilogy, Scholastic: My son loves this book. We’ve read it several times. While I am as far from a Star Wars fan as you can get, I appreciate that my son truly enjoys reading these books. This chapter book is 96 pages, so it will take a while to read, but your Star Wars fan will look forward to reading time.
- Lego Star Wars Droid Tales (Episodes I – III), Kate Howard: Much like the book above, we have read this book several times. C-3-PO and R2-D2 tell stories of past battles in a humorous way.
- Fly Guy, Tedd Arnold: This is another book series that is popular with my son. We have read a lot of the Fly Guy books and they always get giggles. These books are a bit easy for my second grader, but I like that fact that he can enjoy a nice easy-to-read book rather than constantly feeling challenged. I couldn’t pick one favorite since we have enjoyed them all. Your kids will enjoy any of the Fly Guy books you pick.
- Night of the Ninjas (Magic Tree House No. 5): I’ll be honest, I was excited to try Magic Tree House books because my son’s friends (who are advanced readers) had read the entire series. When my son brought home a book from the library, he didn’t enjoy it at all. He wasn’t interested in that particular time in history. However, when I saw this book, I decided to give the series another try since he is a fan of ninjas. He really enjoyed this book and read it with very little help. The books are really well-written and appropriate for this age group so if you tried one and it didn’t click, try one that is on a topic that your kid enjoys.
- Batman: Gotham City’s Guardian, Matthew Manning: My son loves Batman so I thought he would enjoy this book that is basically his biography. My son definitely looked forward to reading it, although he needed help with some of the words. It is probably more third grade level reading, but I’m OK with helping him along if he is interested in the book.
- Star Wars Jedi Academy Attack of the Journal, Jeffrey Brown: In addition to be a reluctant reader, my son is a reluctant writer (if that’s a thing). However, when he got this book in his Christmas stocking, he immediately asked for a pencil and got to work on the activities in the book. It’s rare that he voluntarily reads or writes so this book has been a great addition to our home library. Side note – I have been getting the Star Wars Workbooks in Math and Writing every year since kindergarten and my son actually enjoys doing summer homework.
- Superstars of History – The Good, The Bad, and The Brainy, R.J. Grant: My son had a wonderful first grade teacher who sparked an interest in history. I wanted to keep the momentum going so when I came across this book, I decided to give it a shot. He really enjoys picking a new historical figure and learning about him or her. The great thing about this book is that everyone gets one page so it isn’t too information dense. The best part is, he has requested we check out biographies about figures he wanted to learn more about – a rare thing in our house!
- Superstars of Science – The Brave, The Bold, and The Brainy, R.G. Grant: My son goes to a science-focused school so I picked this book after our success with the History book above. We have enjoyed it as much as the history book.
My best advice to moms struggling with reluctant readers is to just keep trying different books. I know my son will read a super hero or Star Wars book so I keep them in regular rotation and try different books in between. I am constantly hunting for book recommendations and will usually try the library before going out and buying a new book (in case he has no interest).
Once you find a genre your kid likes, try other similar books in that genre. For instance, in researching this post, I realized the author of “Giants Beware” wrote another book called “Dragons Beware.” You can bet I’m going to pick up that book since we enjoyed the first book we read.