Books To Excite Even The Most Reluctant Reader

So you’ve landed a long-term substitute position, and it looks like you’ll be taking your new students down to the school library on your very first day. There you will begin the daunting task of helping 23 kids pick out the perfect book for their big book report project. Most of them will probably have an idea of what they want and what they enjoy reading. However, there are sure to be a few “reluctant” readers in the bunch–the ones who would rather do just about anything other than reading. It can be really tough to get these reluctant readers excited about a book report, but it’s your job to do just that. Here are a few titles that will entice even the most unenthusiastic readers in your crew:

Upper Elementary

  • Clementine. This light-hearted story by Sara Pennypacker grabs the reader’s attention and brings them into the very relatable world of third-grader Clementine. Clementine has a great sense of humor, a big heart, and (unfortunately for her) a knack for getting into trouble. Students will understand Clementine’s irritation when her very good intentions (although not well thought-out) always seem to spiral out of control and land her in the principal’s office.
  • Skinnybones. This humorous tale is sure to erase that glum “I-don’t-want-to-read” expression from your student’s face. Poor Alex Frankovitch is small and less-than-talented on the field–a combination many of us (even adults!) can relate to. However, Alex’s mouth is quite the opposite of his unassuming stature–he is loud and his mouth seems to constantly run five steps ahead of his brain, getting him into some serious trouble! When the best player on the baseball team (and a huge jerk to boot) gets on Alex’s last nerve, he brags that he could win a pitching contest between the two and finds himself in an impossible situation.
  • The Homework Machine. For a kid who doesn’t want to do a book report, a homework machine sure would be a thing of beauty. This book follows the adventures of the “D Squad”–four students stuck unhappily stuck with one another in their work group. The four quickly bond over an invention that makes their lives a lot easier–the homework machine. The group begins to use the homework machine for everything, and their teacher becomes suspicious. Tensions escalate as the story progresses and the students’ bond grows stronger. This unique story is told through a collection of short excerpts from police interrogations, which is a helpful format for keeping a reluctant reader’s attention.

Middle School

  • PeakThis engrossing adventure is great for students who enjoy an adrenaline-charged story. Peak Marcello is fourteen years old and arrested for attempting to tag the top of a New York City skyscraper. Faced with the options of a juvenile detention center or a climbing expedition to the top of Mt. Everest with his absentee father, he quickly chooses the lesser of two evils–the climb. Peak eventually discovers a selfish motive behind his father’s sudden willingness to help him, but his love of climbing and a possibility of great fame motivates him to continue on the journey. This suspenseful book will capture your student’s attention from beginning to end.
  • Gregor the Overlander (Book 1 of the Underland Chronicles). Suzanne Collins, the acclaimed author of “The Hunger Games”, began her career with a fantastic series called “The Underland Chronicles”. Gregor the Overlander is the first book in this five-part series, and the story follows Gregor into a dark and mysterious land under the streets of busy New York City. He soon learns he is part of an important prophecy that can help the inhabitants of this new land and he reluctantly embarks on a dangerous mission. Not only will this book provide your student with fantastic material for a book report, it will probably spark a love for the entire series and keep them busy reading throughout the summer!
  • Ungifted. This incredibly warm and funny story follows a middle-school prankster on a wacky adventure with a group of gifted and talented kids. Donovan Curtis is the class clown and when one of his pranks goes awry, a mix-up lands him in a gifted and talented group instead of in detention. Although he is neither gifted nor talented at academics, he forms a bond with the kids in the group and takes the reader through a relatable series of humorous middle school events like robot fights, pranks, and dances.

Helping reluctant readers find a book that they will find enjoyable can be quite a feat. This list might help you spark a new love for reading in a student who never imagined they could enjoy a book. Please feel free to contact us to learn about more great books for your students.

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