If you are reading this, you probably have a child at home that is refusing to read, pretending to read, or starts and puts books down often. I understand the struggle. I have seen it all in the classroom, but also my own life. I didn’t read an entire chapter book until I was in middle school. I’ve made a list of the books that my most reluctant readers have fallen in love with and show significant improvements in their comprehension, fluency, and overall enjoyment of reading after reading these captivating stories. I picked just the ones that have made the most significant impact on my students. Feel free to ask for more suggestions; if your child tries these books and doesn’t find that “just right book,” I’m sure we can help them find one that allows them to love reading!
But, before we dive into the list of books, let’s talk about how to help your child set up for success. Transforming from a reluctant reader into an avid reader is about how your child reads books, and then what read. Start by helping your child find a comfortable space where they can relax and enjoy reading for as long as they want. In the classroom, I let students sit on bean bag chairs, pillows, with blankets, under their desk, at my desk, in my rocking chair in order to fall in love with reading. Think about the space where your child reads now. Are they comfortable? Think of the lights, space, sounds, distractions. Would changing the location help them enjoy reading? Try and have your child find a favorite place to read that will set them up for success. Then think about how you want to check in with them about the book to check for their comprehension. If your goal is to have your child read for enjoyment, I recommend asking them what their favorite part of the book was or how the story has changed since you last checked in.
Simple Strategies to Build Comprehension for your Reluctant Reader
- Read out loud with your child. They will love this more than they will show! Year after year, my students always would comment on how much they loved to read aloud in the classroom. It doesn’t even have to be for a long time. Start reading a chapter with them and then set them up to continue reading without you. Then check back in and find out what happened in the story.
- Watch the show or movie after reading the book. Students always tell me they love the book more than the movie.
- Use voices when you read with your child, model tone and inflection, and the power of your voice to tell the story. Your child will be mesmerized!
- Place a sticky note to track their favorite parts of the book.
- Let them write or highlight in the book (if you own the book, of course).
I hope you find this list helpful! I added links to help you find the books I recommend. I’m an Amazon Associate and earn from qualifying purchases from the links on this site.
List of Books for Children that Hate to Read For Grades 3-5
House of Robots Series by James Patterson
The comic-style illustrations and realistic main characters are excellent for young readers to get enthralled with this book. The evolution in the friendship between the characters in this book is perfect for children to read. My students love the main robot in this book and its features and upgrades as the book series evolves. The quick-paced dialogue in the story makes this a quick read for your child. The chapters are fast-moving, and the action starts quickly in this series. Your child will enjoy the plot twist at the end of each book that grows with the series. Reluctant readers will want to keep reading until the end of the last book for this series to see what happens to these lovable characters. The illustrations give great, hilarious visuals to keep your young readers know the story come alive. A great follow-up series by James Patterson is Middle Schooled.
The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosh
I have read this book to my class year I have taught, and with almost every reluctant reader I have tutored. It is my go-to when a child doesn’t like to read. The mystery in this book is captivating for children, and the narrator’s humor is everything a reluctant reader needs in a book to stay engaged. Kids yell at me to keep reading when I pause for the day. It is that good! The author has an incredible way of ending chapters and leaving you needing to flip to the next page to understand what happened next. The illustrations at the start of every chapter have the most incredible opportunity for inferencing! There are five books in this series that focus on a specific sense; book one is the sense of smell. The plot twists and turns make your child LOVE reading these books! I recommend ANY and EVERY book by this author! If your child finishes reading the last book in this series and wants more, try the Bad Magic Series by Pseudonymous Bosh. In the classroom, I loved showing short video clips from the author and his website. His personality matches the narrator in the book!
My students love the zombies and otherworldly monsters in this book. The dark, apocalyptic backdrop of this series contrasts the humor and friendship adventures. The main character tries to be the hero as he helps his friends through the world’s end. The experiences he has will keep your child entertained and laughing through the entire book series. As the book discusses darker themes, the author adds a funny event to bring the book’s mood lighter for your child. This book series takes the reader on an incredible evolution of how a problem can change and grow! The symbolism in these books is perfect for fifth grade standards. Students love the illustrations that give a glimpse of the monsters written with an extraordinary amount of vivid detail—a map in each book highlights where the main events happen and changes from book to book. I’m glad Netflix released a show to go with this book series. Hopefully, more kids will read it and fall in love with this series like my students.
Sideways Stories by Louis Sachar
I use this book when I need a child to laugh and enjoy reading just for fun. I challenge them to finish the book in a day! Each chapter is a short story about a character in a class at an unbelievably unusual school. It has entertaining, unique, and hilarious events that happen at this school. This book is perfect for practicing reading skills. If you want to work on reading comprehension while reading with your child, try reading a chapter pause, and ask them about the theme, main idea, or main character. You can then compare and contrast as you read through the chapters. I use this book to work on plot structure and story elements as well. It is such a quick read. You can check on multiple reading skills by the end of the book. Louis Sachar has the most incredible dramatic books. Sideways Stories is excellent humor based alternative to the other themes he usually writes. If your child enjoys humor as much as drama, try There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom or Holes by Louis Sachar as well.
Treasure Hunters Series by Robert Patterson
The action in this series makes your reluctant reader stay intrigued and engaged from start to finish. The children in this book each have personality traits that add to the humor and fun. The family works together on missions that take them around the world. Reluctant readers love the dialogue and quickly changing settings in this book. The series builds on the adventures that the family embarks on together, saving treasures.
Klawde Series by Emily Chenoweth and John Bemelmans
Klawde is a hilarious series where Raj and his space-traveling pet cat tell the story by switching perspective from chapter to chapter. Your reluctant reader will be laughing through each book in this series! The illustrations and short chapters are ideal for a struggling reader. Children love the cat’s inner thoughts and how he describes what is happening. The writer did a fantastic job telling the story through a child’s eyes and a power-hungry intergalactic cat.
90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis
Your reluctant reader will see the power children can have by reading this book. It is a story about a young boy who travels to the United States through the Pedro Pan operation after the Cuban revolution. Julian leaves behind his country, home, and his parents and everything but his brother and a single suitcase. When I read this book with students, I show articles about this time in history and how Pedro Pan helped thousands of children leave Cuba for a better life. I recommend after your child reads this book to understand the real story from this book. Your child will appreciate what they have more after reading this incredible story of heroism, determination, and building a new life in a new place.
The BFG by Roald Dahl
The Big Friendly Giant is such a beloved book! I had to add this to the list! Reluctant readers will love the invented words from the main character that will make them smile. They will LOL while reading about frobscottle and whizzpopping. The uncontrollable giggles I hear from students as they read this book is infectious! It is just one of those books that get into the reader’s imaginations in such a way that you don’t want to put the book down because your love the world that Roald Dahl created for the BFG. My students don’t think the movies about this book are equal to the magic in reading the book, so even if your child has seen the movie, I still recommend reading it.