Friday, December 19

10+ Recommendations for Reluctant Readers

So toys and games are great Christmas gifts. Definitely. But I'm a firm believer that every child should get a book (or something to read) for Christmas. Let's inspire a love for literature, people! However, there are some kids who are just not into it. I've talked about different ways to encourage reading, but here are some actual titles that I'd recommend to a reluctant reader.

They also happen to make fantastic holiday gifts. (Yes, it is six days until Christmas. No, I'm not even close to ready.)

Video Game Included

Perhaps you have a kid that would rather play video games or fiddle around on the Internet. Well good thing there are all kinds of books both about video games and including video games. For instance, how popular is Minecraft?? There's some brand new Minecraft handbooks that won't stay on our shelves, they're so popular. Or perhaps you have a teenager that likes Halo or Call of Duty. But, what's even cooler, are the books that then have an online game to play that's a continuation of the book. So, you should definitely try out 39 Clues, Infinity Ring, and Spirit Animals series. A click on the covers will take you to Amazon for more information.

Graphic Novels

Here is a class of books that is getting more and more appreciation, because they are being recognized as the legitimate literacy tools they are. Graphic novels cater to a wide variety of people and are often a great choice for a reluctant reader. The books can be original stories, or help kids with the classics, like A Wrinkle in Time. There are also retellings of all kinds of series, like Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Children, and Percy Jackson. Really, I bet a kid can find something he/she is interested in in this format.

Semi-Graphic Novels

To be honest, I don't really know what to call this category of recommendations, so I made up "Semi-Graphic." Basically, I'm referring to the books that, though not laid out in the comic strip style or layout, still rely heavily on illustrations, thought bubbles, asides, etc. The most notable recommendations being Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries. A classic recommendation being the Captain Underpants series. These types of book provide another great alternate reading experience in that you don't have to be an excellent reader to enjoy them. They also have a tendency to focus on funny, relatable problems (which is what kids most enjoy in a book). These are some of my favorites:

Nonfiction and Informational Books

The basis behind this recommendation is this: figure out what your kid is interested in, and then get them a book all about that topic. Favorite animal? Favorite sport? Favorite hero or idol? Take it and roll with it. There's so many great informational books out there. My favorite favorite would be the DK Eyewitness books. They have a books on everything but write them in almost a magazine style format—lots of pictures, a small article, lots of small captions—so that the child can choose what to read. It doesn't have to be front to back. Other great overall nonfiction collections would be National Geographic Kids or the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers (the nonfiction companions to the popular fantasy series). Or there's the novelized nonfiction books, like Bomb—my favorite.

Scary Stories

Okay, this recommendation isn't for everyone, but maybe the best way to get a kid reading is by giving him/her a book that is suspenseful and intense—thus, hard to put down. Scary stories, my friend. It's like a train wreck: you just can't look away. There are varying degrees of scary, for different ages. Bunnicula is a perfect beginner book, for example. And then there's Lockwood & Co., which I LOVE, even though I jumped out of my skin every time someone interrupted me. Then there's the classics: Goosebumps, anyone? Or, the king of sleepovers: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Also, Neil Gaiman. He's one of the best scary-story-writers these days with just the right amount of creepy...

Sports Stories

Some kids don't want to read because they find sports much more exciting. Playing or watching. And I don't blame them. But why not get the best of both worlds? There's a bunch of fantastic authors who specialize in contemporary, realistic fiction novels all about sports. Mike Lupica, John Feinstein, and Tim Green are pretty popular right now, because they each of a good collection of books about a variety of sports. Dan Gutman has a cool series, Baseball Card Adventures, that's historical fiction/time traveling awesomeness.

Choose Your Own Adventure

If you haven't heard of the classic Choose Your Own Adventure book series, then you should definitely give these books a try. They're a unique format where the reader gets to choose the ending. So, for kids who don't like to sit down and read a book front to back, these are perfect. See, during the story, they get to choose what happens next (e.g. "If you want to attack the pirates, go to page 44. If you run away, go to page 36"). After CYOA came out, a bunch of others followed. There's Give Yourself Goosebumps series, which is R.L. Stine's creepy take on the format. There's also Star Wars adventures and Doctor Who books. And, get this: Duck Dynasty just came out with their version in September! There's nonfiction versions, too. There's something for everyone!


The best solution of all, really, are audiobooks. A kid can sit back and relax, listening to a fantastic story without having to read at all. Or, even cooler, they can read along with the audiobook and get some practice. Obviously, there's a good chance you'll be able to find an audio version for whichever title you'd like your kid to read. But I'm here to recommend the best. Because a good audiobook has to have a good narrator. My favorite? Harry Potter. Hands. Down. But these others are pretty great, too:

Book-A-Month Club

If you want a gift that keeps on giving, as well as something that ensures a child will have continued new materials to read, consider signing up for an online book club. These web services will have a profile of your kid's reading preferences, and then send them a brand new book in the mail every month that will fit into those preferences. A huge reason a kid doesn't read is because they don't know what's out there that appeals to them. So not only is it low maintenance, it's a pretty sweet gift. Some such services include: The Lollipop Book Club, Stuart Brent's Book Club, and Spellbound Bookstore Book Club.

Magazine Subscriptions

If a book a month is too much (to read or to buy), consider a magazine subscription. It could be topic-specific (like a skateboarding magazine), general interest, or educational. Cater to what your kid likes! Some of my favorites are American Girl, ZooBooks, and Sports Illustrated Kids. Magazines are just one other format for reading that is great for kids: they can read one article, they can read them all. It's up to them, but it's still reading!

So although Christmas snuck up pretty quick this year, there's still time to try out some of these ideas as gifts. Any other favorite recommendations out there?

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