Read To Self: Great Books for Reluctant Readers

by Matt

Books for reluctant and struggling readers

During the 2008-2009 school year, I began using The Sisters’ (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser) process of teaching balanced literacy to my fourth grade students: Daily Five Reading and Literacy CAFE. Periodically I will post information, videos, or examples of how I am implementing this balanced literacy structure.

Books for Reluctant and Struggling Readers

When I attended the Choice Literacy Conference in Portland, Oregon a few years back, I was fortunate enough to go to a workshop by Franki Sibberson. At the time, I was teaching fourth grade and desperately needed more books for my reluctant and struggling readers.

One of the most helpful resources I took away from this workshop was a list of books that were engaging books for reluctant and struggling readers. After the workshop I immediately purchased the books and in made them a part of my classroom library. This list of books was a life-saver!


There are three benefits that stand out about these particular books:

First, these books are so entertaining and clever that any student (or adult) will enjoy them. In fact, sometimes I often found these books in the book boxes of my really strong readers too. There is no stigma attached to these books and you can easily use them in your reading and writing mini-lessons.

Second, the books listed below are all part of a series with multiple books. If a struggling or reluctant reader enjoys one of these books, there are several more in the series that they will want to read too!

Third, most of these books not only come in audio form (CD or through but are affordable enough for a classrom library. I was able to purchase and have donated a few of the audio versions of these books and they became a well-used part of Listen to Reading.

Book List for Reluctant and Struggling Readers

Fly Guy

Mercy Watson

Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist

Stink the Incredible Shrinking Kid


Ivy & Bean

Roscoe Riley Rules

Elephant and Piggie

Moxy Maxwell

I purchased all of the books listed above and as many of the books in each series as possible. I also noticed that our school library began stocking many of these books too. With these books available in in our class and the school media center, my reluctant and struggling readers definitely had an easier time finding books to read.

Want to Know More?

Interested in learning more about The Daily Five Reading or the The Literacy CAFE? A good place to get more information about this wonderful balanced literacy structure is to visit The Daily Cafe or The Sisters’ website. Watch for more posts about Daily Five Reading and CAFE Literacy right here at

Do you have a book series to add to this list?
Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
Please leave a comment below!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenna October 11, 2011 at 10:10 am

I am the mom of a struggling reader and I agree that finding books can be very difficult. I often visit the website to find a new book for my son or to check out the reading level.

One thing that I want to point out is parents and teachers shouldn’t assume that all books in a series or by a particular author will have similar reading levels. One example is The Littles series. These range from 180 into the 900s.

I did find lots of books and blogged about them on my site. I hope to end some of the searching frustration faced by parents –

My son loves the Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children series. Appropriate for middle school kids.

~ Jenna


2 Matt October 11, 2011 at 10:19 am

Thanks for the tips Jenna!



3 Jenna January 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

You’re welcome!


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