Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great Books That Even the Reluctant Reader Will Enjoy

This week I want to address the reluctant reader, and by this I mean the proficient reader who just doesn't seem interested in picking up a book!  First, we all have to expand our definition of reading - magazines and handbooks count!  Second, sometimes children don't pick up fiction simply because they feel overwhealmed by the book.  Chapters are long, descriptions verbose, and illustrations are few and far between.

I have selected four books this week that are wonderful stories of fiction that I hope will feel approachable to kids.  The chapters are not intimidating, the stories have a good flow/pace to them, and some are pretty funny.  Now it's just whether or not your son or daughter is intrigued enough to start them!

I do want to highlight that while these stories are good for reluctant readers, they are also wonderful for voracious readers.  The stories are all extremely well written and engaging for any type of book lover.  So enjoy!

Title:        Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading
Author:   Tommy Greewald
Target:    Grade 4-8
Charlie Joe Jackson hates to read.  He has made it through life without ever reading an entire book cover to cover.  His elaborate schemes to get out of reading books are the key to his success and his downfall!  In this book he shares his 25 top non-reading tips and sends us on a hilarious journey to get through the dreaded Position Paper without shattering his record.
What makes this book so good is that Charlie is authentic.  He never falls into the sappy predictable ending of loving books and realizing the error of his ways.  Instead, he turns out to be a good kid, with a conscience, who manages to grow up, in spite of himself.  And he still doesn’t read, although by this time the reader clearly sees the error of his ways.
Fun book for reader and non readers alike!  I will say that while the writing is perfectly appropriate for fourth grade, since the book is set in middle school, there are several issues that revolve around girls and dating.  They are absolutely innocent, I simply bring it up because depending on your child’s maturity, it may affect how much they enjoy the book.
Charlie Joe Jackson would warn anyone against reading this book, but I say go for it!

Title:        The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School
Author:   Candace Fleming
Target:    Grades 3-5
This is such a clever book.  It takes the stories we learn from Aesop’s Fables, and rewrites them based on the fourth grade elementary school adventures!  Each chapter is a “fable” which demonstrates ideas such as “Be careful what you wish for - it might come true” to an old favorite “Honesty is the best policy.”
The stories center around a difficult class of fourth graders, who each have their own personalities and challenges.  Some of these gems are laugh out loud funny - Calvin who wishes he were still in kindergarten having to do the squirrel dance and swish his bushy tail (while wearing a school bus name tag) still makes me giggle.  This book is nice for reluctant readers because each chapter is also its own stand alone story.  
A fun read with a nice tie in to the historical fables.  As my fourth grader said after he started reading it, “this book is really funny mom!”

Book:        because of mr. terupt
Author:   Rob Buyea
Target:    Grades 4-6
This book caught my attention because it has a forward written by John Irving, one of my favorite authors.  My curiosity as to why he felt this was such compelling book got the better of me!  While I didn’t find it quite as compelling as he did, I still felt it was a little gem of a book that stayed with me.
This book is about a fifth grade teacher, Mr. Terupt, who starts off as a new teacher, and ends up touching the lives of his students profoundly.  It is told from the point of view of seven of the kids in his class and each chapter is their view of the events going on in the story.  The characters are very authentic and I could relate to how each of them represented someone in my son’s class.
My sixth grader read this book in one day, as did I.  The story moves at a good pace and is hard to put down.  Even my son said it was one of the books he enjoyed most this summer.  Definitely one I would recommend picking up!

Title:        The Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure:Everest: You Decide How to Survive!
Author:   Bill Doyle and David Borgenicht
Target:    Grades 4-6
This book is rooted in the pick you own adventure books of the past.  You are part of the youngest team to climb Mt. Everest and your choices throughout the story determine whether you will successfully make the climb.  With 26 book endings, only one will get you to the top!
This book is a ton of fun and because it is based in fact, I learned quite a bit about the Nepalese culture, Everest and climbing.  There are comic pages dispersed throughout the book, but the majority of the book is text, so do not be concerned that you are giving your child a comic book.  My son and I kept at it until we successfully made the climb.
A fun book, well written with quite a lot of interesting facts.  Final thoughts - Don’t eat the apple pie!  You have been warned.

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