If you’re looking for quick picks for reluctant readers, it can be challenging to find books that draw in reluctant readers, especially if they are reluctant because they are struggling with their reading skills.
If there aren’t underlying challenges, then engaging reluctant readers with books about their interests or finding books that aren’t too difficult can give them a feeling of success and get them reading more.
Here are some quick picks for reluctant readers that might light their reading spark.
Quick Picks For Reluctant Readers
Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems
There are over 25 Elephant and Piggie books and each one is beloved by beginning readers! These books are silly fun, with Elephant and Piggie’s adorable friendship at the center. Reluctant readers might enjoy this funny series while also boosting their reading skills and confidence.
The Magic School Bus Series by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen
There are two different Magic School Bus series to choose from, the picture books and the chapter books. The picture books are actually pretty dense with lots of fact-filled extras on each page, like notes or mini-essays from the students in Ms. Frizzle’s class. The chapter books are geared for more confident readers, though they make great read-aloud if you want to read them together.
Kayla and King Series by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrations by Nancy Butler
This eight-book series is so sweet, all about a smart girl named Kayla and her funny dog King. These books are so cute and will engage reluctant readers who love solving simple mysteries alongside a girl and her dog!
National Geographic Readers Series
Got a kid that loves nature, animals, or science? Or better yet, all three? Then this may be your new go-to collection! With so many books in the series, there are sure to be multiple topics of interest. (Talk about a quick pick!) They are just the right length and breadth to be interesting but not overwhelming, with fantastic full-color photos sure to help capture the imagination of any reluctant reader.
Who Would Win Series by Jerry Pallotta, illustrations by Rob Bolster
This quick pick series is a must for many reluctant readers! Each book begins with interesting facts about different animals, then goes on to have the animals battle until eventually, one is the victor. Without being too long or overly graphic, these books will keep kids reading to the very end, engaging their reading skills alongside their scientific brain and cognitive skills.
Juana and Lucas Series by Juana Medina
Juana is a spunky ten-year-old living in Columbia. She has a human best friend, Juli, and a best dog friend, Lucas, and typical ten-year-old problems, mostly in school. But Juana is so relatable and charming, and the illustrations are so vivid and bright, that this book will pull you in right from the start. There are some Spanish words mixed in, which makes the text richer, and it is interesting to see how life in Bogotá is similar to or different from where you live. It’s also funny to hear Juana describe some English words that she really just doesn’t get, like “silverware.”
Choose Your Own Adventure Series
This popular choose your own adventure series has books geared for both beginning readers, ages five to eight, and then a series for ages eight and up. Both sets are fantastically fun and engaging for readers of all skill and interest levels. Who doesn’t want an interactive book that lets you decide the action? Even better, each book has so many different outcomes that you can keep reading it without it getting old.
The Big Book of Silly Jokes For Kids by Carole P. Roman
Get the giggles–and the reading bug–with this silly joke book! Joke books are a great way to engage reluctant readers because there’s no linear story to think about so they can get kids feeling confident in their reading skills without overexerting themselves. All with a few laughs to boot!
Kids magazines are a terrific addition to a reluctant reader’s bookshelf. So many different topics and skill levels are covered, and they often include activities, jokes, and lots of interesting pictures. Some to try are Highlights, Sports Illustrated KIDS, or Ranger Rick, but there are so many out there that you are bound to find one that grabs your readers’ interest.
The Disgusting Critters Series by Elise Gravel
Though these books are about “disgusting” creatures like worms and toads, they are completely charming. This 10-book, non-fiction series is all about different creatures that might be considered icky, but are actually really interesting, and apparently hilarious. Come for the facts, stay for the jokes and adorable illustrations! If you like these, don’t miss The Bug Club or The Mushroom Fan Club.
CatStronauts series by Drew Brockington
Cats in outer space, saving the planet from darkness? Yes! Introduce readers to the joy of the graphic novel with this kooky and wonderful series all about cat-astronauts, or CatStronauts. All six books in this series are sure to grab the reader by their funny bone and keep them purring with delight.
Pirate Queen: A Story Of Zheng Yi Sao by Helaine Becker, illustrations by Liz Wong
Get swept out to sea with this fantastic adventure tale about the amazing real-life Pirate Queen Zheng Yi Sao. Beautifully written and illustrated, this story is equal parts exciting and empowering, and very hard to put down! It’s not too long or graphic, though the book starts off with Zheng Yi Sao and other young women from her village being kidnapped by pirates. But Zheng Yi Sao takes this kidnapping in stride and eventually becomes the most powerful and benevolent pirate captain of her time.
Engaging reluctant readers can be difficult, but it can really help to have some great books, graphic novels, magazines, and joke books at the ready. If nothing works and your child is still resistant to reading, (and has had a reading assessment done by their school or a local learning center), then just keep reading together as much as you can. Find chapter books to read out loud before bed or give Play Aways a try. They may always be reluctant, but at least they’ll still get to experience the beauty of sharing stories.
About Meredith Bartolo Pappas
Meredith is a licensed teacher with almost twenty years of experience in education. Her specialties are holistic learning, early literacy, and social-emotional development. She is also a reading specialist, artist, and mom of two. She loves all things bookish, magical, and cozy. Find her at Sharing Circle Education sharingcircleeducation.com and on Instagram @sharingcircleeducation.