Sunday, October 28, 2012

Best Books for Reluctant Readers

Oh the reluctant reader.  How we as parents worry and fret over getting these kids to read a book!  I get it, not all books speak to all kids.  Some books can be intimidating when they start out with long winded chapters and verbose descriptions.  But here is the problem, kids only get better at reading by .... well reading.  So even if they read Diary of a Wimpy Kid ten times, or have memorized Captain Underpants it helps them to read these stories over and over.  Eventually they will move on, I promise - no I really do!

So if your kids are stuck with the same stories, or if they haven't quite found the right story, don't give up!  I have some fun selections this week that may inspire them.  I have even focused one of the books on girls, because lets face it, it is not only boys that sometimes have trouble catching the reading bug!

Title:        Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit

Author:     Tommy Greenwald

Target:      Grades 4-8

Series:       Yes

What this book is about:
We met Charlie Joe Jackson in his first book, Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading, were he made it his mission to never read a single book.  In this adventure, his bad grades could earn him a trip to an academic summer camp.  When he promises to get them up in an effort to avoid camp, he finds that extra credit is the only way to improve his performance enough to get straight A’s.   So now Charlie finds himself posing for portraits, participating in student government and auditioning for the school musical.  Could avoiding summer camp be worth all this?

Why I love this book:
First off I actually found the sequel better than the original, and the first book was pretty fun.  For all his faults, Charlie Joe is an endearing character, who really does want to do the right thing (as long as that right thing doesn’t involve reading a book!)  And parents, do not worry that the book sends the wrong message.  As always, the reader can easily see that reading a book, or just working harder in the first place would have made Charlie’s life a whole lot easier!

This book has some serious chuckle out loud moments, and I really like the voice Greenwald has given Charlie.  As in the first book, Charlie speaks directly to the reader and includes tips, in this case, on extra credit, which are full of wit and wisdom!

Who this book is for:
While reluctant readers will enjoy this book, my son was so excited when I brought it home he sat on the couch and read it in one afternoon!  If your kids like Diary of a Wimpy Kid this book will appeal to them, but I am happy to say that parents will also like it better.

Final thoughts:
Greenwald has three sons, so he knows how to write to boys who like funny books, and boys who may not be as inclined to read.  No extra credit needed to get your kids excited about this story!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:        Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf

Author:    Jennifer L. Holm

Target:     Grades 5-8

Series:      Yes

What this book is about:
This story follows Ginny, a seventh grader, as she works through her mom’s new relationship after the death of her father, her older brother’s rebellion and just the basic challenges of middle school.  Can things ever get better?

Why I love this book:
Ok, this book is billed as “a year told through stuff” which is a perfect description.  There are no long winded paragraphs, no verbose descriptions, no plethora of paragraphs!  What you have in this book is an accumulation of receipts, to do lists, report cards, student essays and birthday cards.  It is amazing what our “junk” can tell us about what is really going on in our lives!

Holms does a brilliant job of capturing the angst of getting that perfect yellow sweater to the embarrassment of your little brother crashing your birthday party in his underwear, to picking out the perfect bridesmaid dress to wear to the wedding.  Twelve can be a tough age, and Holmes tackles it with aplomb!

Who this book is for:
I think most girls will be able to relate to Ginny and enjoy this book.  Reluctant readers will be pulled in by the nonconventional format of storytelling.

Final thoughts:
I can’t wait to experience Ginny’s adventures in eighth grade.  The sequel to this book Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick is just out!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:        Knucklehead

Author:    Jon Scieszka

Target:     Grades 3 and up

Series:      No

What this book is about:
Strangely this book is an autobiography of Jon Scieszka’s childhood.  Jon is the second oldest of six boys, and this is his side of the story - growing up Scieszka.  From his lessons with the nuns at Catholic school to the family rotation of four creative Halloween costumes, Jon shares where he gets his ideas for his wildly successful books.  He also left me wondering why my family was never this funny.

Why I love it:
This book made me laugh, and I don’t mean a “ha ha” laugh, I mean crossing my legs so I won’t pee in my pants laugh!  There is no way I can do the stories justice, but let’s just say they are true to life and sometimes quite thoughtful, in spite of themselves. 

The idea of an autobiography didn’t really excite me at first, but this is a story of all the gross, funny and ridiculous things that happen to kids growing up.  I shared two of the stories at dinner the other night with my kids and we were all laughing so hard I had to run into my office and get the book.  I have not seen it since.

Who this book is for:
Great book for boys, as they will relate to so many of the experiences.  Also a good pick for reluctant readers because the chapters range from two to five pages and are filled with old photos and mementos.

Final thoughts:
Jon is committed to getting boys reading, it is a personal mission of his, and this book will show boys just how fabulous a great story can be.

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

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