Easy Books for Older Kids (Who Are Struggling Readers)

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If you have an older reader who needs to read easy books, easier than their grade level, it can be tricky to find high-interest books that don’t seem ridiculous or babyish yet are still at a low reading level. This book list is for them. Readers who are struggling and need ideas for books that are easier to read. (Sometimes these books are called high-low books.)

 

Granted, these books might always seem embarrassing to some kids who want to be reading Harry Potter. Remind your kids that they are working hard and soon Harry Potter will be possible. Because in general, practice makes better and better.

 

eBooks

Reading books on a Kindle or device is a FANTASTIC idea for kids who aren’t reading what their peers are. Ebooks give kids privacy so to speak. I highly recommend this option. Plus, technology adds a coolness factor to reading.

Learning Testing?

That being said, it’s really, really important that if you suspect any learning issues that you get your child tested so they can get support as soon as possible. THERE IS NO SHAME IN HAVING A LEARNING ISSUE. Please, hear me on this. When kids are undiagnosed with something like¬†dyslexia, for example, the more years they don’t get the right kind of support, the more their self-esteem crumbles and the less likely it is they’ll want to keep trying so hard. Because they’ve been trying and it has been almost impossible. ūüôĀ

 

When my daughter got tested for what I thought was ADHD, it turned out to also be slow processing. It was actually a relief to know this information. Why? Because it explained so much! Knowing this, we could help her understand that she was smart, but her brain just took longer to access her smarts.

 

Similarly, when my other daughter was finally given the diagnosis of a seizure disorder (which I had been fighting against because of my anti-labeling¬†pride,) it was actually a huge relief. The “label” of her diagnosis meant we could get her medicine and stop the seizures.

 

Maybe it’s only me. However, if you are like me and hesitant to test and subsequently “label” your child, keep in mind that a diagnosis isn’t meant to hurt a child unless it is used to shame. A diagnosis is meant to give adults information. Hopefully, it will help you provide the exact support that your child needs.

 

Why I’m Including Reading Levels

I’m sharing reading levels FOR ADULT USE ONLY to help you pick out books for kids. Because I know you want your kids to be able to practice reading skills, not cry because the book is so hard or feel stupid. Ideally, you would use this list (and the levels) to give your child 3-4 books and let the child pick what they want to read. Choice, as we know from research and observation, is extremely motivating for all children.

 

 

Instead of using the reading levels, (which are only guidelines and do not need to be strictly followed for a variety of reasons which you can read about here), you can teach kids to use the five finger test. This helps kids read through one page to see if they can read it — or they miss too many words on the page. It’s something you need to practice. Proficient readers get used to opening a random book and scanning to see if the book seems like a good fit for them.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids

If you’re looking for easy readers, I have those listed here.

Easy Books for Older Kids
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot The Voodoo Vultures from Venus
 by Dav Pilkey, illustrated by Dan Santat SCI-FI
DRA 20
Guided Reading L
Kudos to Dav Pilkey and Dan Santat for creating such an action-packed, engaging new easy book series for readers with marvelous illustrations. It’s not often you see a book in full color —¬†love that! I predict that once your reader tries this first book, they’ll want all the books in this easy chapter book series. And, their own robot friend, too!

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
The Infamous Ratsos
by Kara Lareau, illustrated by Matt Myers HUMOR
DRA 20
Guided Reading L
I loved this book! Louie and Ralphie Ratso try to do mean, tough-guy things but every time they do, their actions help someone. Ultimately, both the boys and their dad decide to choose kindness. Of course, before they decide this, their experiences are very funny.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Bink & Gollie Best Friends Forever
 by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile ADVENTURE/FRIENDSHIP
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
The second book of funny Bink and Gollie (mis)adventures in friendship and life filled wonderful color illustrations. Get the first book here. This popular series is a favorite with many girls.

 


Easy Books for Older Kids
Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Erwin Madrid REALISTIC
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
Jessica Finch is a delightful early chapter book with exceptionally pleasing and colorful illustrations. Jessica wants nothing more than a pig for a pet. For her birthday. When a misunderstanding happens with her best friend, Judy Moody, she learns a valuable lesson about not making assumptions and calling people names. This is one of my top picks for an early chapter book, I loved it! BOXED SET

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Boris Gets a Lizard
 by Andrew Joyner REALISTIC
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
You can‚Äôt help but love Boris, a wildly imaginative boy who really wants a pet Komodo dragon. In fact, it‚Äôs his wild¬†imagination that prompts him to tell his entire class that he‚Äôll be not only getting a Komodo dragon but that they can all see it. (Which isn’t exactly true. At all.) And, it‚Äôs that same imagination that saves the day when there is no Komodo Dragon but many¬†excited visitors who Boris doesn’t want to disappoint. Appealing colorful illustrations accompany this fabulous simple early chapter book making it another book I highly recommend for beginning readers. (1 – 4 sentences per page.)

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Kung Pow Chicken Let’s Get Cracking! by Cyndi Marko SCI-FI/HUMOR
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
Open this early chapter book and you’ll think you’re reading a comic or picture book, it’s that colorful and also full of speech bubbles. Gordon Blue, an ordinary second-grade chicken accidentally developed superpowers in his uncle’s laboratory. (It happens.) When chickens start losing their feathers all in one POOF!, it’s up to Gordon, aka. Kung Pow Chicken, and his little brother, Egg Drop, to solve this catastrophe before everyone in town ends up feather-less. It’s funny, easy-to-read, and an entertaining story. (1 – 4 sentences per page.)

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
All Paws on Deck (Haggis and Tank Unleashed #1) by Jessica Young ADVENTURE
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
In a word: HILARIOUS! These two dog friends with opposite personalities sail on a fun and silly pirate adventure. You will fall in love with Tank and Haggis. (2-4 sentences per page and lots of colorful illustrations.)

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Rise of the Earth Dragon (Dragon Masters) by Tracey West, illustrated by Graham Howells FANTASY
DRA 38
Guided Reading P
In the times of castles and kingdoms, Drake learns he is a dragon master (and that dragons are real!) He trains with the other kids to master his dragon, an earth dragon. This is an adventurous fantasy chapter book that will interest almost any child as it has just the right amount of conflict, adventure, and excitement.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Notebook of Doom
by Troy Cummings SCARY
DRA 30
Guided Reading N
Alexander discovers his new town is FILLED WITH MONSTERS! And, he’s right in the middle of everything especially after he finds an old notebook of drawings and facts about monsters. Fun with an edge of scary. These easy chapter books are hard to put down.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton (series) HUMOR/FRIENDSHIP
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
Narwhal is exuberant¬†to meet Jellyfish, his new imaginary friend who is imagining Narwhal at the same time. Although Jellyfish is more serious, you’ll love their adventures — forming a pod, having parties, eating waffles, and imagining. This is a feel-good friendship adventure¬†told in graphic (cartoon) format that kids love.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
The Toad: The Disgusting Critters Series
 by Elise Gravel NONFICTION
Visually captivating with interesting, just-right, easy text that is informative and sometimes hilarious. I’m a big fan of this kid-friendly nonfiction book series! (also read: The Worm, The Fly, and The Rat)

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne HISTORICAL MYSTERY
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
A MUST-READ series for all kids! These combine mystery, history, magic, and adventure as siblings Jack and Annie adventure through time. If you love The Magic Tree House series, you’ll also like these books.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
A to Z Mysteries: The Absent Author
by Ron Roy MYSTERY
DRA 30
Guided Reading N
The A to Z Mysteries¬†series rocks! None of the¬†books need¬†to be read in any particular order, each has a self-contained mystery. My own kids read most of the books in this series –more than once. In this story, a famous writer that is coming to the bookstore doesn’t show up. Dink and his friends, Josh and Ruth Rose, must find out what happened to the missing author. BOXED SET

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken 
by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell HUMOR
DRA 30
Guided Reading N
Kids know it’s¬†not the blue chicken (who is a bird, not a chicken) who is weird, it’s the chicken squad — they are downright wacky! In this adventure, the chickens are asked to investigate who has stolen the blue bird’s¬†house. And despite the chickens’ inability to actually investigate anything, they do discover the culprit and a solution. Very funny.

 

 


Easy Books for Older Kids
Sparkling Jewel: Silver Pony Ranch
by D.L. Green, illustrated by Emily Wallis REALISTIC
DRA 34
Guided Reading O
Tori and her little sister are spending the summer at their grandma’s ranch. Tori falls in love with the spunky pony named Jewel who she can’t ride just yet, which is really hard. This is a sweet story for animal lovers!

Easy Books for Older Kids
Eerie Elementary: The School is Alive!
 
by Jack Chabert, illustrated by Sam Ricks SCARY
DRA 34
Guided Reading O
Sam isn’t thrilled about becoming a¬†hall monitor. Especially when he discovers that the school is ALIVE and trying to harm him and the other students. Sam has quite a wild¬†adventure trying to save the students from the school. I think kids who like sort of scary things (it’s not too bad) will enjoy this book. Box set of 6 books here.

Easy Books for Older Kids
Judy Moody Was in a Mood
by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds REALISTIC
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
Want to get your kids reading a great series? Try Judy Moody. She’s a relatable third grader with a big personality, an annoying little brother, the coolest aunt ever, and lots of humorous antics. Box Set Here.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Ivy and Bean
 
by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall ADVENTURE/HUMOR
DRA 24
Guided Reading M
Get ready to laugh along with these charming young friends who are always involved in funny situations and problems. It’s a fantastic series about two girls with unique personalities.

Easy Books for Older Kids
Planets by Elizabeth Carney NONFICTION
DRA 34, Guided Reading O
Information, interesting facts, and quizzes make this another win for National Geographic Kids. It has a good text to picture ratio, is interesting and well laid out.

Easy Books for Older Kids
Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Eliazbet Vukovic REALISTIC
DRA 34
Guided Reading O
Jasmine is so jealous that the older kids in her family have important jobs on the mochi making day — she wants to do what the older boys and men are doing, pound the mochi rice. Her understanding father figures out a way for Jasmine to join in. And even though it didn’t work out how she wanted, her family is proud of her and decide it’s okay to break some rules like who gets to pound the rice. Not only is the story’s message sweet, Jasmine’s Japanese-American culture and warm family community shine through.

Easy Books for Older Kids
Geronimo Stilton #1 Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye by Geronimo Stilton MYSTERY
DRA 34
Guided Reading O
Geronimo Stilton is a newspaper writer/adventurist. These books share his adventures with interesting fonts and colorful illustrations. I personally find the design of the books distracting as did my kids but for many kids, the style adds to the engagement and entertainment factor.

Easy Books for Older Kids
The Bad Guys
 #1
by Aaron Blabey HUMOR
DRA 38
Guided Reading P
Bad Guys is such a hysterical book for older readers who want easy book choices! Mr. Wolf invites other bad guys to a meeting with hopes they will join him in being good. Lots of drawings and minimal text make this a sure-bet for first and second-grade readers who like irony and humor. (Note: I will admit to not enjoying all the books in the series as the potty humor gets very old. However, so many kids are addicted to these books.)

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Dog Man by Dav Pinkey HUMOR/GRAPHIC NOVEL
DRA 38
Guided Reading P
Weird. Quirky. Funny. I think all three describe this new graphic novel from the creator of Captain Underpants. In¬†the first easy story, a police officer¬†and a dog are joined together — the top from the dog, the bottom from the officer to make: Dog Man. Dog Man solves crimes and has adventures, the likes of which will entertain kids for hours. (These are the MOST checked out book at many school libraries.)

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
The Year of the Book series by Andrea Chang REALISTIC
DRA 34
Guided Reading O
Growing up is challenging and in the first novel, The Year of the Book, Anna turns to books for company while she learns how to make friendships in real life. The subsequent books in the series are just as realistic, interesting, and well-written. I highly recommend this series.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Zoey and Sassafras Dragons and Marshmallows #1 by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay STEM/FANTASY
DRA 34
Guided Reading O
This is an entertaining easy chapter book with the coolest mix of science and magic, a diverse main character, and fantastic illustrations that will get kids reading and learning. Zoey, like her mom, can see magical creatures and is tasked to care for any injured creatures that might need help. In this story, she uses her science skills (including research and the scientific method) to figure out how to care for a sick baby dragon.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
 by Louis Sachar HUMOR
DRA 38
Guided Reading P
Old school humor at it’s best! These books describe a wacky school with crazy teachers and even crazier students and events. BOX SET

 

 Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke SCI-FI/GRAPHIC NOVEL
DRA 40
Guided Reading R
One of our favorite graphic novels, Zita the Spacegirl, is a true friend who not only saves her best friend but the entire galaxy! Struggling readers often find that graphic novels with their picture support are exactly the right fit. BOX SET

 

Hilarious — and weird and kooky and very creative! Stinkbomb and his sister, Ketchup-Face (you may know these children) are sure the badgers (because “BAD” is in their name!) stole Stinkbomb’s $20. They embark on the craziest of adventures — meeting King Toothbrush Weasel then questing to rid the island of Great Kerfuffle of the badgers. Not only that, you’ll find lots of spontaneous singing about jam, actually bad badgers, and a very helpful shopping cart. If you like silly stories, this book is for you!

 

Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel HUMOR
DRA 38
Guided Reading P
In a word: Hilarious. We all think Bad Kitty is very naughty. And, oh so funny. These books are easy to read and fun to reread, very motivating for older readers.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
Weird But True 3 
by National Geographic
DRA 40
Guided Reading R
Kids universally love these weird and random facts but that’s not the only awesome thing about¬†Weird But True¬†nonfiction books! The book makes readers think that they’re NOT reading. Why? Because there are lots of colorful photographs, one sentence facts, and you can flip around to read the pages out of order. Ultimately, these books often entice even the most reluctant of readers. It worked for my oldest daughter!

 

Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
Crime Biters: My Dog Is Better Than Your Dog
 by Tommy Greenwald MYSTERY
DRA 40
Guided Reading Q
This is a funny beginning chapter book about a boy who is convinced (rightly so?!) that his rescue dog is a crime-solving, vampire, genius! A great easy book for older readers.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book #2: Amelia Bedelia Unleashed 
by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril ADVENTURE
DRA 38
Guided Reading P
These new Amelia chapter books by the original author’s son have an interesting, more mature storyline than the picture books. In this story, Amelia searches for the perfect puppy.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan REALISTIC
DRA 40
Guided Reading S
Zoe‚Äôs family rescues dogs in need. A new family has moved in across the street and Phillip, the boy, has stopped speaking. He doesn‚Äôt even want to try. But Zoe’s new rescue dog might just help the boy heal and speak. Your readers will appreciate that this easy chapter book is so short yet packs a big emotional punch! (Also on: Best Chapter Books About Dogs)

 

This book contains full color with photographs, illustrations, and kid-friendly design. The text size itself is perfect for elementary readers, it’s slightly bigger than typical nonfiction books of this length with decent white space in between the lines and around it. Finally, I’m impressed with the way this book series delivers factual information without dumbing it down or making it too difficult to read. Amazing Animal Facts Chapter Books is a stellar, highly recommended science chapter book series just perfect for elementary classrooms and libraries.

 

Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
Big Nate
 by Lincoln Peirce HUMOR
DRA 40
Guided Reading R
Kids of all ages, even older kids, LOVE this hilarious series about Nate’s life at home, school, and sports. Some, like this one, are written in a combo of text and comics while others are graphic novels such as Big Nate Welcome to My World. BOX SET

 

Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute 
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka HUMOR/GRAPHIC NOVEL
DRA 40
Guided Reading Q
If you haven’t read these addictive and hilarious graphic novels, they are a must — anyone who has eaten lunch at school will appreciate the humor. I’ve recommended this series to struggling readers and it’s always been a hit.¬†BOX SET

 

Easy Books for Older Kids, High/Low Books for Struggling Readers
Doodle Adventures: The Search for Slimy Space Slugs!
by Mike Lowery HUMOR SCI-FI
This book not only hooks the reader with its space-adventure¬†plot and hilarious narrator Carl invites YOU to find the missing priceless artifact requiring bravery, heroism, and drawing. Yes, drawing. Along the journey to retrieve the artifact from Captain Sleezoog (he’s a slug,) you must do your part. So you’ll¬†make sure (by drawing) that you’ve got a spacesuit, you’ve packed everything¬†you need to bring, the rocket design is perfect plus has some silly (bandages!?) extras, and lots more as the adventure ensues. It may sound contrived but it’s a¬†fun, engaging¬†adventure that any kid, artist or not, will love. And there is¬†MORE in the series! Also read: The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!

Who Would Win? Whale vs. Giant Squid
by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Rob Bolster
Teachers tell me that their students can’t get enough of the Who Would Win? books. This book pits two ocean carnivores against each other. First, you’ll learn facts about a sperm whale, then you’ll learn about the giant squid. Finally, read what happens when these two creatures face-off. ¬†Can you predict who will win? See all the addicting informational books in the Who Would Win series.

40 easy books for older kids

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5 Responses

  1. The Stilton books are great for kids who have tracking problems. The different size fonts and pictures on the reading line give children who struggle with following a line of words who all look the same a relief from the effort of tracking the line. May I add at an early age I don’t think there is anything wrong with following a line by putting your finger under the line to read.
    Also, Reading music while playing an instrument is a good way to improve tracking.

  2. THANK YOU for this list! Great recommendations. I hadn’t seen the Doodle Adventures books before–I just ordered them for my son’s birthday this week. We’ve known about my son’s developmental delays since he was a toddler (now a 5th grader) and he has a great team of teachers, aides, and therapists helping him along. It took him a LONG time to get interested in independent reading, so it’s been fun for me to see him this year discovering what he’d been missing. Favorites are Dog Man, Big Nate, National Geographic and Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not books, Bad Guys, and he’s been reading bits and pieces from the I Survied, True Stories: Tornado Terror book. He’s also enjoyed the Sports Illustrated Kids Victory School chapter book series. They’re not high quality, but they keep my sports fanatic interested.

    1. Thank you for this feedback — I’m glad you found something fun for your son’s birthday. And I appreciate the other recommendations you’ve shared. Thanks, Jennifer!!

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