Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books for Reluctant Readers

 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is:

Top Ten books to give to a reluctant reader

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in a while, but as a teacher who has to put books in the hands of reluctant readers everyday, this is one topic I can complete with ease. My audience, however, is 12-year-olds so most of my selections are middle grade.

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Any kid who proclaims they don't like reading quickly devours each and every one of the books in this series. They're easy, they're funny, and don't involve much thought to understand.

2. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Many of my reluctant readers are boys so whenever you can find a book that appeals to a boy audience and is funny, it's guaranteed to get them interested (plus girls like it too).

3. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
A book about a dog with a happy ending? That's how I sell this book to kids hesitant to read books about dogs. More often than not, it works.

4. No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
In the same vein as Winn-Dixie, Gordon Korman was tired of reading books where the dog dies in the end and so he wrote this book as his commentary on that very thing.

5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
When a reluctant reader first lays eyes on this behemoth of a book I'm sure their first thought is, "No way Jose!" But then once they realize that more than half the story is told through mesmerizing pencil drawings and the book reads like a silent movie, most of them are hooked and finish it in record time.

6. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Based on the true story of Telgemeier's own dental trauma, Smile is a hit with both boys and girls despite the fact that the main character is a girl. Graphic novels are always a great way to lure in reluctant readers.

7. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
Chris Crutcher doesn't pull any punches in his writing and that can be extremely appealing to non-readers, especially boys. Not afraid to use strong language and controversial topics, the very nature of his writing is a commentary on real problems that plague teens and families today.

I picked Whale Talk for this list because it happens to be my favorite Chris Crutcher book, but any of his books are great for older reluctant readers.

8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is one of those books that students read because "everyone else is doing it." Sometimes peer pressure can be positive. :)

9. All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Berg
This novel written in verse revolves around baseball and finding your own identity. The main character was adopted from war-torn Vietnam and struggles with the attitudes of the community where he now lives that resent where he's from.

Novels in verse are a great "in" for reluctant readers. Due to the sparseness of words on the page, they can be finished much more quickly than a prose novel and thus make students feel accomplished. More novels in verse need to be written with boys in mind for this reason. Most often they appeal more to girls than boys, but All the Broken Pieces is one of the few novels in verse that appeal to boys.

10. Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Despite the deceptively feminine cover, this is not a "girl book". This hilarious story deals with zombies and frequently talks of vomiting and missing limbs. Why don't most reluctant readers like to read? Because they're bored by high literary fiction. Give them something funny and/or gross and often you're in their wheelhouse. This book covers the funny/gross category very well.

1 comment:

  1. My 7th and 8th grade book club loved No More Dead Dogs. Gordon Korman is on my list too!