Sunday, June 9, 2013

Great Books That Will Also Appeal to the Reluctant Reader

I just love the books I am profiling today!!  However, I always feel a little nervous doing a blog post with reluctant readers in the title because I think I will alienate other readers from these books.

I have to tell you that I never pick books that are dumbed down for kids who don't like to read.  I pick great stories that embody certain characteristics that make them more paletable for non readers.  I thought that perhaps it was time to share some of the traits I look for:

Shorter Chapters - Since each chapter is a little story unto itself, having chapters that are not as long gives non readers a greater sense of accomplishment.  Also, a long chapter, especially before the story has gotten interesting, can be intimidating and turn kids off to the book entirely.

Font/Picture Placement - Do not discount how important the font, page size and picture placement are when reading a book.  Even I get turned off when the font is too small or the page size is ackward.  Reluctant readers need an average or larger font size or that page can feel pretty overwhelming.  Pictures aren't necessary, but when they are used effectively they help break up the narrative and get kids to visualize the story.

Action Driven - When a book has you on the edge of your seat, you don't want to put it down.  Not all books have to be a non stop thrill ride, but books that build up the suspense which spurs kids on to the next chapter, help them move through the book.  A book that compels you to read on can keep a reluctant reader going.

Humor - Let's face it, we all like to laugh.  When a book brings humor into the mix, kids are more likely to stay with it and feel connected to the story.  A good guffaw can turn a reluctant reader around. I've seen it happen time and time again.

So today I am giving you some fabulous books.  It just so happens that reluctant readers may find them a can't put down read as well.  How great is that.  I am actually a little impressed with myself right now.  I know .... just give me the moment!

Title:       Peak

Author:   Roland Smith

Target:    Grades  5-8

Series:     No

What this book is about:
Peak is the son of two climbers.  When he gets in trouble for scaling tall buildings in New York City, the only way to stay out of the Juvenile Detention Center is to join his father who is preparing a team to climb Mount Everest.  Peak hasn’t spoken to his father in years, and it appears that his father’s enthusiasm for taking him along has less to do with catching up, than making his son the youngest climber to reach the peak.  However, Peak can’t resist the allure of the biggest climbing challenge and so he tries to make history.

Why I love this book:
The ending in this book is not a given, which makes it incredibly exciting.  I was absolutely hooked to see if Peak makes it to the top (and no I will give nothing away!)  

However, what makes this book better than just an exciting adventure is what we learn about the mountain and the Tibetans who risk their lives for these climbers.  I thought I knew a little about Everest, but this book taught me so much more.  It is part history lesson, part climbing primer and part adventure. 

Who this book is for:
Great adventure book.  I think most kids, especially boys, will gravitate towards this story.

Final thoughts:
This book is a winner on so many levels!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Peak  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Yippee!

Title:       The Bully Book:A Novel

Author:   Eric Kahn Gale

Target:    Grades 4-6

Series:     No

What this book is about:
”The Book” has been passed down from sixth grader to sixth grader.   Only a few select students know about this book and it is essentially a manual on how be the most popular kid in school.  Part of this manual involves selecting one unsuspecting student to be the Grunt every year.   In this story, “The Book” and the journal from this years Grunt are intertwined, showing us the mind of the bully and the bullied.  Will our grunt be able to withstand the year and can he help others in the future?

Why I love this book:
I read this book in one day, as did both my sons.  It is a fascinating read, full of suspense.  As our grunt, Eric starts to put the pieces together and realize he is the victim of an organized attack, he tries to get to the bottom of “The Book” but more than that, why he was selected.  You are rooting for Eric throughout and hoping for the best, but human nature is not always kind.

I appreciated seeing into the mind of the original bully, although the author does not take on the issues of why other kids follow.  Gale was bullied when he was in sixth grade, and I think this is why the story rings so true.  However, I don’t want to get you too down.  While there are certainly some difficult moments, the book is so engaging and well written that despite the subject matter you will feel compelled to read on.

Who this book is for:
This book is a quick read and because of the journal format it does not feel overwhelming.  Most kids will be fascinated by this story.  Both my sons couldn’t put it down.  Good book for a reluctant reader.

Final thoughts:
I think in the end what drives this book is figuring out why Eric was selected as the Grunt.  I think we all want to make sure we wouldn’t be the one to get picked, but if we are, what can we do to not be a victim?  This book is truly a can't put down read!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Bully Book: A Novel  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Yippee!

Title:       Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Summer Vacation

Author:   Tommy Greenwald

Target:    Grades 4-8

Series:     Yes

What this book is about:
The second book in this series left us off with Charlie going off to academic summer camp.   For those not familiar with the series, Charlie has made it his mission to read as few books as possible over his school career.  He is now a participant at Camp Rituhbukke (Ok, I will give you a minute .... “camp read a booke” )  Let’s just say that he is determined not to fit in and to bring the other campers to the dark side.  Of course in true Charlie Joe fashion, the one book he does read makes him a hero to the other campers and his kind nature, hidden under a lot of bravado, makes him a true friend.

Why I love this book:
Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love the Charlie Joe Jackson books.  Being the father of three boys, Tommy Greenwald knows how to write to his audience.  His books are funny without being gross, they are clever without being too predictable or expected and they are the perfect length with just the right amount of illustrations for the reluctant reader.

I will say that the second book is still my favorite, but this third installment was fun as we see Charlie continue to evolve.  This book probably has Charlie being the most academic we have ever seen him, but I think it would get boring if Charlie never learned from the past.  It will be interesting to see where Greemwald takes him next.

Who this book is for:
Great boy book, although girls can certainly enjoy it as well.  You do not have to have read the first two books to enjoy this one, but I think most kids will appreciate the series more in order.

Final thoughts:
Oh Charlie Joe Jackson, we will make a reader out of you yet!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Summer Vacation  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Yippee!

If you need more suggestions for reluctant readers check out my two earlier posts, Great Books Even the Reluctant Reader Will Enjoy and Best Books for Reluctant Readers.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a new one you have overlooked. "Bunt!" is the story of a kid who develops a new way to control balls hit in the infield. Fun, full of game action, the book was written for reluctant readers in grades 8-12.
    Check it out on Facebook: Bunt - a baseball story.