As a teacher, I try not to spend too much of my own money on my classroom, but when it comes to new books that the kids are dying to read, I find it hard to resist. One particularly challenging demographic is the reluctant, below-grade-level, male reader. Lots of thought and study has gone into finding solutions to motivate them to dive into a good book, because research tells us that kids need to be reading about two hours a day in order to make one-year’s growth per year.
With that in mind, here are some the books I splurged on because it is so rewarding seeing a string of little boys more excited about books than soccer:
1. The “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. These award-winning books are written in the style of a journal faithfully sketched and written by a scrawny middle-schooler who finds himself always getting the short end of the stick.
2. The “Bone” series. These colorfully illustrated books are in a very popular genre called graphic novels. They are as long as a chapter book and have very advanced vocabulary, but are accessible to struggling readers due to the pictures accompanying each text box and speech bubble. I can never keep these books on the shelf, and the girls love them too!
3. The “Ricky Ricotta” series. These books are very easy reads but are still entertaining enough for older readers. The books feature Ricky Ricotta and his Mighty Robot in their adventures against nemesis across the galaxy. They also include fun, interactive cartoons that you can flip back and forth to see the action sequences take place!
4. The “Stink” and “Judy Moody” series. Judy Moody is a grouchy but extremely endearing and charismatic third-grader whose stories are filled with humor about school and family and friends. Her little brother, Stink, is a bit of an underdog who was such a great character that he ended up with his own beloved series as well. These books make great read-alouds, but the versions you can buy on tape add so much color and life to the story, that I have to recommend both. And of course, the kids love reading them to themselves over and over.
5. Then there are the classics: Books by Judy Blume or Roald Dahl, “Horrible Harry” books, “Henry and Mudge” books, and “Captain Underpants” books. (The “Captain Underpants” books probably aren’t old enough to be classics, but they are older than the rest of my selections so they ended up at the bottom of the list.)
So if you have an upper-elementary, or middle-school aged child in your life, these are my humble recommendations.