Book List for a Reluctant Reader

Dear Reader,

I have a long list of books that we have read or that have been recommended to us, and I wanted to start posting more on book recommendations, but I have debated how to do it. I think what will work best is to group the books in lists rather than to give a long review of each individual book (plus sometimes it has been a while since we read or heard the book and I can’t remember all the details).

For a start, I thought I would begin with books that my now 9-year-old has read. He is a pretty competent reader at this point but he only does it when I tell him he has to. This is in sharp contrast to his two older siblings who read by choice and enjoy it. I have had a hard time finding books for him that fit his reading level, interest him, and break down into nice chunks. He is beyond what we typically call chapter books and I try to avoid all the twaddly series which are so popular. He did read most of the A to Z Mysteries which are by no means the worst of that genre but I would still rather avoid their ilk. So my goal has been to find real books that interest him and match where he is right now. Here are some that have worked for us:

–Thornton Burgess books along the lines of The Tale of Joe Otter or The Story of Buster Bear. He has other books which vary in length but these ones, and there are dozens of them, are a nice read for children just into or just beyond chapter books. They are about animals (obviously) which is a big plus around here. They are among the easier books in this list. One of their main benefits from my standpoint is that they have really short chapters, just 2 or 3 pages each. This makes it very easy for me to say “read the next chapter” and I know he will get an appropriately sized chunk and I don’t have to worry about breaking off the story in the middle of a thought. My seven-year-old is now reading these as well.

–Almost anything by Dick King-Smith. We haven’t found one we dislike yet. This is the author of Babe, but he has dozens of other books. We particularly enjoyed The Water-Horse (which bears little resemblance to the movie of that name). Again there are animals involved. Sometimes the animals are pets; sometimes they are the characters and speak. The chapters are longer. I would say there are usually 7-12 chapters per book so one must break them up, at least if your child’s  attention span is like mine’s.

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. My son was clearly excited to tell me about his reading in this book (though as always not excited enough to read any more in his own free time). He likes dogs. Again, the chapter are longer and need to be broken up. I am not a fan of all Beverly Cleary’s books. I find Ramona annoying, but I may try him on other nooks about Henry and Ribsy or the Mouse and the Motorcycle books.

The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes. Boy befriends giant alien robot. Read the book, then see the movie.

The Great Tug of War by Naidoo. Traditional African trickster tales about a rabbit. The chapters as I recall were a good length.

Sir Gawain the True by Morris. A silly version of a King Arthur tale, but well done and not too far from the original story.

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth. My son is just getting into this one, but so far it has captured his imagination.

My Father’s Dragon ad its sequels by Gannett. My younger son has not tried these yet, but my older one really enjoyed them and they are not too long.

That is what we have so far. I welcome suggestions!



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  1. […] Book List for a Reluctant Reader […]


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