As a kid, I always had a book in my hand, whether I was riding in the car to the grocery store with my mom, sneaking in a few sentences under the table at dinner, or reading under the covers with a flashlight late into the night. I always loved reading and could never get enough.
So when I was pregnant with my first child, I began scouring second-hand book shops and eBay, slowly gathering out-of-print copies of my childhood favorites to share with my own kids. Then when my children were infants, I traveled up and down memory lane, reading to them from the books that many of my childhood memories are made of.
But as they began to get older and more independent, I was finally forced to accept that my kids just aren’t big readers. At least not yet! I’m still holding out hope that this will be the year a reading spark is kindled in them. But until that day comes, I have to put a lot of thought and hard work into finding just the right books that match their personalities, preferences, and attention spans if there’s any hope of them cracking a book for more than a couple of minutes at a time.
Over the last few years, I’ve found several books for my reluctant readers, and even series, that they’re excited to read, and do so willingly. Now that school and mandatory independent reading time has started again, we’ll be revisiting some of these old favorites and hopefully adding to this list as we go. If you have a reluctant reader, be sure to check out these titles from your local library or add to your online shopping cart.
I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis
For some reason, my kids love a harrowing tale. The I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis fits that description perfectly. Each stand-alone book covers an actual historic event and is told through the eyes of a fictional child character who experienced it. It’s historical fiction for the youngest readers! From the shark attacks of 1916 to 9/11, kids won’t even realize they’re learning as they read. (Reading Level: Upper Elementary)
Jory John Books
We love all the books written by Jory John! These picture books fascinate my kindergartener and are simple and interesting enough for my second grader to read to him. Our favorite Jory John books are The Good Egg, The Bad Seed, Goodnight Already!, and Giraffe Problems. (Reading Level: Beginning and Emerging Readers)
Scholastic ACORN Books
The ACORN books by Scholastic are “illustrated early readers that plant a love of reading.” Heavily illustrated in a graphic novel fashion, each ACORN book allows young readers easy access to themes, characters, events, and words that they can figure out largely on their own. Our current favorite ACORN books are the Unicorn and Yeti (by Heather Ayris Burnell) and Crabby (by Jonathan Fenske) series. (Reading Level: Beginning and Emerging Readers)
Owl Diaries Series by Rebecca Elliott
The Scholastic BRANCHES series Owl Diaries is one step up from their ACORN books series. The Owl Diaries follow Eva’s adventures, which she records in her diary. The journal-like flow of the words on the page, as well as the use of many illustrations and speech bubbles, makes it easy for new or reluctant readers to follow along and stay engaged. (Reading Level: Early-to-Mid Elementary)
DK Eyewitness Books
These non-fiction, educational books will appeal to your no-nonsense kid who wants to know more about the world and how everything works. Each Eyewitness book is crammed full of real-world facts and beautiful photographs that will appeal to kids of all ages. While the younger ones may not be able to read the words for themselves, they’ll still love reviewing each book’s dozens of photos. (Reading Level: Upper Elementary+)
My family is still building our reluctant reader-approved library, but these series have gotten us through some serious reading humps. What are some of your young readers’ favorite books or series?