If you’re looking for titles that will get a reluctant reader excited about books, this is the post for you!
This post contains affiliate links.
So I guess it might be considered embarrassing that I have a reluctant reader in my house. With all my talk about how to get kids excited about books, you’d think that all my kids would be eager little bookworms.
In fact, my Seven is what I’d call a reluctant reader. He can read – and is actually quite good at it – but he’d rather not. He’d much rather toss a football, wrestle, play his keyboard, clean his desk … anything but read!
So I’ve made it my mission to discover books that will get this reluctant reader reading.
Dragons and Marshmallows, by Asia Citro
I start with this book because it’s the first chapter book that my Seven was willing to read with me after school – without complaining. (This was a big win!) The brilliant Zoey and Sassafras series is about a little girl who uses science to heal magical creatures.
This is a great series to use with a reluctant reader because:
- The chapters are short and engaging.
- Kids will find charming illustrations on nearly every 2-page spread.
- The science is sound.
- The stories are easy to follow.
- The characters are both likable and good role models.
Other books in the series:
Castle: How It Works, by David Macaulay
My second grader loved this book and read it several times. It’s part of a brilliant series by David Macauley called How it Works – and a much (much) simpler version of his other Castle book. Your reluctant reader can this in a single sitting.
Other books in the series:
- Eye: How it Works (my son didn’t want to read this one)
- Toilet: How it Works (as you might have guessed, this one was a hit)
I Am Rosa Parks, by Brad Meltzer
My Seven loves all the books in Meltzer’s series: Ordinary People Change the World. The books are long, so they’re worth reading in two sessions. Another idea is to take turns reading the pages – or have your child read the main text while you read all the speech bubbles.
Meltzer has a unique style which may not be for everyone – but we love his creative writing style alongside Christopher Eliopoulos’ irresistible artwork.
Other favorites in this series:
- I Am Harriet Tubman
- I Am Jackie Robinson
- I Am Helen Keller
- I Am Albert Einstein
- I Am Martin Luther King Jr.
Weird but True! by National Geographic Kids
There are a ton of books in this series, and they’re some of the most popular books at our house. While the Weird but True series won’t give your young readers a chance to follow the plot of a book, it will give them time to practice reading. This is because once they start a Weird but True book, most kids can’t resist them.
My second, third, and fifth grader love to read and quote the outrageous facts in these books!
Favorites from the series:
- Weird But True collector’s set (we own and love it)
- Weird But True! Stupid Criminals
- Weird But True! Food
Who Would Win? series by Jerry Pallotta
I first learned of this series when my Seven brought this book home as a gift from his teacher. I think they’re brilliant. Each book takes two animals and imagines what would happen if they met. Who would win? It takes into account their size, strength, speed, etc. The books are engaging, entertaining, and educational.
Some people are put off by the animal fight at the end, but it doesn’t bother us. In fact, my kindergartner, who is notorious for being frightened by very tame scenes in movies, has always loved listening to this series. In fact, just the other day he was on a mission to find the whole set scattered throughout the house. (Quite miraculously, he found them all!)
Favorites in this series:
- Who Would Win? Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark
- Who Would Win? Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear
- Who Would Win? Whale vs. Giant Squid
and many more!
I hope this has given you a place to start with your reluctant reader in second or third grade (or even higher). If you have recommendations to share, please post them in the comments! I’ll add to this list as we find more books that keep my Seven’s interest.
BUILD COMPREHENSION WITH OUR RESPONSE PACK!
Help your readers find chapter books they’ll love with these leveled book lists. Then use the 75 reading response sheets to help them make sense of what they read. The response sheets focus on character, setting, plot, and vocabulary.
The series “ And Then it Happened” was a hit with the boys in my grade 2 class.
Thank you for that suggestion, Connie! I’m not familiar with that series but will have to check it out!
The Sassafras and Who Would Win series look awesome for my grade level and above second grade readers. Thanks for the recommendation!!!
I hope they enjoy them, Julie!
Thanks Anna my daughter is a reluctant reader and is a pity because she can read her older siblings book. This books are a good starting point. Thank you!!
I hope she finds some favorites here, Zulma!
This looks like a great set of suggestions, your descriptions made the difference here. Thanks very much. I’m thinking of seeing which books we have in our library at school and reading just the beginning as book commercials.
I’ve had good luck with “Lulu and the Brontosaurus” by Judith Viorst as an engaging read aloud during summer school for boys going into 2nd and a read along for boys going into 3rd and 4th. I understand the whole series is fun but I have not read the other books. She’s a spoiled child who is humorously put in her place by the brontosaurus she wants for her birthday.
Thank you for that recommendation, Karen! I had forgotten about those. I’ll reserve them now from the library.
The Zoey and Sassafras books are great for all readers! I live in Michigan and my granddaughter lives in Minneapolis. We Skype every Sunday, and she always wants me to read to her (she is in Kindergarten, but reading at a 2nd grade level, but still loves to be read to). I discovered the Zoey and Sassafras books and have already read three of them to her. Not a lot of pictures, but her reactions show that she sees the pictures in her mind. I am eagerly waiting for our library to get the newest one in.
Yay – I’m so glad she enjoys these, Loraine – and I think it’s fantastic that you read to your granddaughter over Skype!
I love how something that seems like a negative (a child not wanting to read) can be turned into such a positive (a book list to help others with the same reluctance)!
Thank you. This is very helpful. My high interest pre-k children will love having these books read to them. I will also recommend them to former students who will love reading them for themselves.
I hope your students enjoy them, Jackie!
Awesome reading choices for reluctant readers. Thanks for the list. Some of my firsties are needing a challenge in their reading materials. I will check these out and hopefully inspire a couple (who read on high 2nd third grade levels) to try them out…maybe a book club. Thanks.
I hope you find some here that your students enjoy, Kim!