The list author says: "As a teacher advisor and acting librarian for our school program, I put together a collection of books specifically for reluctant readers--especially boys. I've arranged these by interest and ability level, from about 7th-10th grades on down to 1st. See if one of these books fits your child. Note that reluctant reader lists for teens often assume a higher reading ability than many kids might have. Most of these books are easier to read. (Oh, and I should give a nod to series like Magic Tree House and Goosebumps--not exactly great literature, but some kids go through them like potato chips! Same for Geronimo Stilton, which I have listed here.) I suggest you have your child read 5-7 pages a day, perhaps in the same room with you while you're doing something else to make sure it happens. Then ask them to tell you about what they read--do this in a gossipy way, with great and sincere interest in the events of the story. "So what did [character name] do today?" Or take turns reading pages with them. I'm back to teaching now, and this is what I do with all my students. It's non-threatening, fun, and encouraging. If the book seems too hard or uninteresting, try a different book! After questioning their genre interests (in TV/movies if they don't like books), I usually give them six to choose from, all easier than their grade level would indicate. Remember, this isn't about torture, it's about kids feeling comfortable enough to develop a happy relationship with books, and thus wanting to read more."
"Alex Rider discovers his deceased uncle was a spy for British Intelligence, and now MI6 is recruiting Alex. Even though the Alex Rider books have gadgets, adventures, and sophisticated villains, they aren't cutesy or silly, as Alex is a fairly reluctant spy. Look for other books in the series. Good for high school age boys who can read at a 4th grade level on up, but don't."
"With all of the mediocre fantasy coming out lately, I was unprepared to like The Lightning Thief--but it was excellent! A funny, friendly, off-the-wall read with a high action quotient. Hero Percy is told he's ADHD and dyslexic, but then, his heritage is a little unusual. About a 4th grade reading level, but interest level from 3rd to 10th grades. This book has 4 sequels."
"First in a series about a team of young spies working for British Intelligence. There are 12 books--all centered around hot-tempered but likable hero James and other Cherub agents. A bit earthy (PG-13), but very fun! Probably a 3rd or 4th grade level, with strong teen appeal. My 15-yr-old boy students love these."
"Korman has written four or five series of quick-reading, adventurous books. Island is about kids who are sent on a boat trip as a punishment, and then they're shipwrecked on an island already occupied by some unsavory characters. About a 3rd grade level, but kids as old as 14-16 might like them."
"On the Run is "The Fugitive" done by kids. Aiden and Meg Falconer's parents have been framed and thrown in jail. Now Aiden and Meg have run away from the juvenile detention center they've been left in and are looking for answers, with the bad guys and the FBI after them. The reading level is about 3rd grade."
"I once taught an athletic 4th-grade girl who thought Charlotte's Web was boring, but she loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Though many of today's TV-brained kids don't have the patience for the sweet, slow stories of yesteryear, Roald Dahl still works! 3rd/4th grade level."
"Eyewitness makes gorgeous nonfiction at about a 4th grade level, and there's a set for younger readers, too (Eye Wonder). Some critics complain that the structure is too jumpy, but reluctant readers may find these illustrated pockets of text less daunting than vast sweeps of text uninterrupted by pictures."
"I bought this book for a teenage reader before he had the skills to read it, and it inspired him to try harder. He really wanted to read about cars! Of course, you should generally get your kids car books they CAN read. About a 4th grade level."
"Hooray! Someone finally wrote a book that looks at how cars work at a 3rd grade reading level! Nice details and photos--will appeal to older kids, too. Divided into 4 sections: Power, Speed, Handling, and Technology."
"This book is a classic for boys' adventure. A small plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, and only Brian is left alive. He struggles to survive, doing so in spite of many missteps made in dealing with the wild. 4th grade level."
"Hatchet, next generation. Moon lives out in the forest with his survivalist father, but after his father dies, he gets caught and then escapes again, going on the run with two new friends. BRILLIANTLY written, about a 3rd/4th level."
"Hoot is pretty reader friendly, and it has the added advantage of having been made into a movie. It's about kids in Florida trying to stop an unscrupulous guy from building in an owl habitat. 3rd grade reading level. See also Flush."
"Okay, here's a fun football book by a former NFL player! Troy White has a gift for calling football plays, but no one will listen--till he finally catches the attention of a pro ball player. Green has more books out. 3rd/4th reading level."
"Eddie Ball gets a chance to win a million dollars if he can make just one free throw, but someone seems to be sabotaging his practice sessions. Author Gutman has written other books in this series, plus books with wider appeal: The Boy Who Ran for President and The Homework Machine, for example. For 4th-8th graders, but written at about a 3rd grade level."
"A nutty adventure that might just capture your kid's sense of humor. Science genius Ethan Cheeseman and his three kids hit the road with his dangerous invention, chased by three hostile groups. (Like Lemony Snicket's books in tone.) About a 4th grade level."
"The stories are short, easy to read, funny, and a little weird. My favorite selection is "Mrs. Gorf," which I often used as a read-aloud when I worked as a substitute teacher for 2nd or 3rd graders. But I've had 6th and 7th graders who struggle with reading get a kick out of these stories, too. (And Louis Sachar is the award-winning author of Holes!) High 2nd grade reading level."
"Greg's illustrated journal is a perfectly funny and self-centered account of a boy's middle school experience. My favorite funny bit was the Cheese Touch, also the haunted house and school play scenes. Reading level about 3rd. Interest level 4th through 8th; sequels."
"Roald Dahl's nutty humor, but a shorter book, which appeals to reluctant readers. It's about a clever fox and his family and friends who must go to war to defend their homes from some fox-hunting farmers. 3rd grade reading level."
"You'll have to explain some of the British vocabulary and humor, but check out this premise: little creatures place dog poo beneath the feet of adults who have just been mean to kids. (But what if they make a mistake?) See also 2 sequels, Rover Saves Christmas and The Meanwhile Adventures. (3rd)"
"Okay, here's one for the girls! The books in this series are graphic novels about a very fun heroine who struggles with the perils of middle school. The reading level is 2nd/3rd grade, but the books are for girls in 4th-8th. They are by an award-winning author of children's historical fiction and her brother."
"This is the first in the classic Bone series, now reprinted in color in 9 books. Fone Bone and his cousins are thrown out of town, embarking on fantasy/quest-type adventures reminiscent of Lord of the Rings--but funnier. Comics and graphic novels are a great choice for hooking reluctant readers. 2nd/3rd grade reading level, interest much higher."
"There aren't enough fun books for 2nd grade boys, or for 3rd and 4th grade boys who have trouble reading. Lin Oliver's series is about a boy who finds out he has a tiny twin and can shrink himself, too. Look for the sequels."
"Not only are these poems funny (and subversive in a kid way!), they are also small bits of text, so less intimidating. I tell young readers, "Find two poems you like and read them to me." 2nd/3rd grade reading level, interest up to 5th or even higher. See also A Light in the Attic."
"I highly recommend these books for boys in 2nd grade--and on up into 6th or 7th grades for reluctant readers. The vocabulary is more advanced than you might think, actually, so your kid may need a little help. He may also start drawing his own comic books."
"A new graphic novel series for the 2nd and 3rd grade crowd--goofy fun with a lunch lady who is secretly fighting for justice using cafeteria-based gadgets. Three kids help her out. (My 8-year-old ADHD student was enthralled.)"
"Flat Stanley is such a friendly book! Stanley gets smashed flat, but he just ends up as a flat kid, otherwise normal. His parents mail him across the country to visit his relatives, among other adventures. About 2nd grade."
"Gail Gibbons writes a lot of wonderful, reader-friendly science books on topics like plants and animals at about a 2nd grade level, but I picked this one partly to point out that yes, getting kids nonfiction books about sports is a good move, too. I know high schoolers who won't crack a book--but they'll read the sports page daily!"
"The title character is a really awful kid, but his exploits are pretty funny. He is contrasted with his perfect little brother in this best-selling British series by an American author. (About a 2nd grade level.)"
"One in a series, Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science, that I bought for our school. The books hold interest for 1st and 2nd grade readers as well as for older students who are struggling with reading. They address a range of great science questions, but this food chain book is one of my favorites."
"I am randomly adding a book from this series because I've been hearing how much kids love them, but the quick look I took showed me the writing's kind of bland/predictable. However, the FORMAT is a winner--with colored words, strange fonts, and some rebus-type stuff. I also like the humor. 1st/2nd grade level."
"I've used Bony-Legs with 1st through 8th graders, the older kids being ESL students who couldn't read well in English. ALL of them liked this story of a girl who has an encounter with the terrifying Russian witch, Baba Yaga. The reading level is about 1st grade."
"I recently tried these out on a struggling ESL 3rd grader, and they were just right, plus they made her smile. There are 4 titles so far. A very nice knight becomes a sort of foster parent to three rowdy little dragons."
"Move over, Frog and Toad! A new early chapter book featuring seemingly cool-headed Gollie and impulsive Bink in a series of perfectly funny little adventures about things like buying crazy socks and goldfish envy. High 1st grade level."
"I once taught an illiterate 18-year-old to read using these books (after we built his skills). They are fairly quiet, but they're gently funny. About a 1st grade level, but accessible to older students who can't read well."
"The Fox books make a good follow-up to Frog and Toad and are a bit more rowdy and contemporary. They're written at a high 1st grade level, but will be amusing to upper-elementary students who have trouble with reading."
"I've seen 5-year-olds intimidated by the idea of learning to read become completely enthralled by this one. It's surprisingly long (and episodic), so break it up in chunks. Go slow, only help when needed. Pre-Primer."