Books & Activities for Reluctant Readers
Books and Activities to Inspire Learning!
“So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky.” – William James
Help Children Get a Good Foundation in Reading
Whether your child is already showing signs that they are a reluctant reader or if you are introducing reading skills to young children it helps to present enticing books for reluctant readers to the kids. We read a lot of children’s books and we read them with children who have a wide variety of interests and reading skills.
This gives us unique insight into what books are engaging to children. Over the years we have introduced multitudes of books with varied results. We would like to share the books that not only help children learn reading skills but also are books that the children actually want to read.
This page contains affiliate links. Please visit our disclosure page for more information.
Books for Beginner Readers
Humor, repetition and rhyme are hallmarks of books that entice children to feel comfortable reading. Books that start with simple sight words are also important for building good reading skills. Here are some of our favorites.
A Classic Book for Beginner Readers
Go, Dog Go was a favorite in our home. It’s a classic book for a reason. Children love dogs, silliness and repitition and this book has it all. The children can start by learning to read easy words like “Go” and “No”.
Go, Dog, Go activities from Reading is Fundmental.
A Book Series the Kids will Love!
What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig is part of the Pig in a Wig Book Series. It has everything a book needs: engaging illustrations, a storyline the kids can follow and lots of opportunities for the kids to practice their reading skills.
Curiousity City DPW has a rich resource for Pig in a Wig: Early Reader Series: Classroom & Event Activities
Kids Love the Elephant and Piggie Books
Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems is one the books in the Elephant and Piggie series. The books are simple enough and funny enough to engage even the most reluctant reader. We also love Will You Share My Ice Cream?. Check out the fun Elephant and Piggie cooperative game we made as a companion activity.
Elephant & Piggie activities can be used to extend learning and create cross-curricular ties that address Common Core Standards. Pigeon Presents has a comprehensive guide for all the Elephant and Piggie Books.
An Easy Reader Full of Fun
Hi! Fly Guy is the first book in a series featuring an unlikely friendship between fly and boy. The book is full of slapstick, puns, and hyberbole that kids will enjoy reading aloud. This book is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book!
Scholastic provides a free Hi! Fly Guy Teaching Guide with printable activities
Beginning Reading Book Set
Bob Books for Beginning Readers are one of our go-to book sets for teaching children on the autism spectrum to read. I will be honest, they aren’t that fun for me to read but the kids really like them and they are great for building confidence. Consistent new sounds are added gradually, until young readers have read books with all letters of the alphabet (except Q).
This Reading Mama has provided a treasure trove of Free BOB Books Printables for Sets 1 though 5.
Early Chapter Books for Reluctant Readers
Your child has started to read, you know that they have some reading skills but they resist moving from picture books to chapter books. What now?
The resistance may come from a lack of confidence. For children with weak reading skills the idea of reading so many words at once may be daunting. By choosing high interest books with plenty of illustrations you can help ease children into reading at the next level. We also like to find series that the kids enjoy as that motivates them to read the next book.
Kids love to read about the adventuress of Mercy Watson
We’ve worked with quite a few reluctant readers and this is one of our go to beginner chapter book series. Kate DiCamillo has some sort of magical ability to write books that kids want to read. The Mercy Watson: Adventures of a Porcine Wonder book series uses high frequency words with a lot of repetition to help build confidence.
Mercy the Pig is so popular that she has her own website full of information about the books.
Candlewick Press and Story Pirates has created a classroom activity kit aligned with the K–3 Common Core Standards
Great stories for early readers
Another series that the kids love are the Henry and Mudge Ready-to-Read books. These books are Level 2 “Ready to Read” Books which are appropriately described as having longer sentences, simple chapters, and high-interest vocabulary words.
The Teacher’s Guide has a whole bunch of free printable book companion activities to use while reading the Henry and Mudge books.
Kids love stories with cats and dogs!
The Mr. Putter and Tabby books have a special place in our hearts. Our daughter consumed these books when she was younger. When I introduce Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea to the reluctant readers in my life they are no longer reluctant to read!
Teaching Books has 138 Teaching Resources including 15 Book Readings and 25 Lesson Plans for 22 books in the Mr. Putter and Tabby series.
Beginning mystery books
Join the world’s greatest detective, Nate the Great, as he solves the mystery of the lost picture! Perfect for beginning readers and the Common Core, this long-running chapter book series will encourage children to problem-solve with Nate, using logical thinking to solve mysteries!
Super Teacher Worksheets has a collection of worksheets and activities that were designed to be used with Nate the Great, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.
Books that kids are eager to read!
I have a love/hate relationship with the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid book series. It does not appeal to my sense of humor but then I’m not an eight year old child. While these books are not chapter books they are highly popular with a wide range of kids and they do get the kids excited about reading. Even better, my students love to share what they read and discuss all the silly social situations in the book.
Because the books are so popular there is an abundance of teaching resources available. We used the Wimpy Kid Teaching Guide from Amulet Books.
For some extra fun, check out the Wimpy Kid Party Kit.
Books for Reluctant Readers
Sometimes it takes time for children to develop a love of reading. If you have an older child who is still resistant to reading we have some high interest book suggestions for you.
Classic Books for All Children
Any book by Roald Dahl will please even the most reluctant reader. Matilda is the favorite of my students but my heart belongs to James and the Giant Peach. There is magic in the stories that children really respond to.
Roald Dahl Fans has collected a huge list of teacher’s resources and book companion activities for all of the Roald Dahl books.
The Treehouse Books
Not to be confused with Magic Tree House Books, the The 13-Story Treehouse starts this popular book series with a treehouse that has thirteen stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you are hungry. Soon your children will want all the whole Treehouse Books Collection!
Parker Arts has 13 Treehouse-based activities for you to try.
Chatterbooks and Macmillan Children’s Books has an Activity pack for The Treehouse Series.
Newberry Award Winning Book
The Great Gilly Hopkins is a Newbery Honor Book from bestselling author Katherine Paterson about a wisecracking, ornery, completely unforgettable young heroine. The book is engaging, easy to read and teaches lots of lessons about expectations, disappointment, surprise, anger, prejudice and acceptance.
Reed Publications has a comprehensive Novel Study Guide for The Great Gilly Hopkins.
A book recommendation from the kids.
I stumbled across Gangsta Granny when a speech therapist and I were looking for high interest books for a second grade student. It was recommended by another reluctant reader who loved the humor and the idea of robbing England’s Crown Jewels with an outrageous grandma. While this book isn’t part of a series, it is a wonderful introduction to The World of David Walliams books.
Teaching Ideas and Resources for Gangsta Granny from Teaching Ideas.
A book about Friendships.
As hilarious as it is original,The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls by Elise Primavera is an unforgettable take on girlhood, piano recitals, The Wizard of Oz, and the dependable everyday magic of true friendship. We read this book with our students both to get them excited about reading and also as an opening to exploring friendships and social skills.
We used the The Great Kindness Challenge Toolkit as a companion activity for this book.
An adventure book the kids won’t want to put down.
In the book The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) children who struggle with reading will relate to twelve-year-old Percy Jackson, a boy who hates school because of his dyslexia, as he goes on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction — Zeus’ master bolt.
Children will get hooked and want to read The Ultimate Collection of 5 Books about Percy Jackson’s Epic Heroes Legendary Adventures by Rick Riordan
The author Rick Riordan has Parent Teacher Resources for all the novels in this adventure series.
More Book Activities for Reluctant Readers
Have fun with some reading activities for Reluctant Readers that will bring literature alive and extend the learning!