Some kids are naturally voracious readers. And some kids would rather visit Central Park in a peanut butter birdseed suit than sit down to read for twenty minutes. If you’re anything like me (i.e. HUGE book nerd), you might tend to take it personally when one of your kids doesn’t particularly enjoy reading. But fear not, book loving mamas! There is hope for your reluctant reader.
The key to enjoyable reading is to find something your child actually enjoys reading (weird, huh?). This could mean large text, short chapters, lots of illustrations, or just a relatable storyline. Let your child guide the selection, within reason (of course you probably don’t want your 8-year-old reading a steamy grocery store romance novel, no matter how cool that cover art might seem).
Below are five tried and true book series that my 8-year-old reluctant reader has been happy to read. You may be surprised to find none of them reference wimpy kids or underpants in their titles (though I know these are fan favorites). These books all have just the right mix of text and illustrations with a “cool” story to make them a hit with my son. I hope some of these might also inspire your young readers at home.
Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown & Jarrett J. Krosoczka
This original series follows a middle school boy on his journey through Jedi Academy, using journal entries, sketches, and newspaper clippings. The first books in the series are written by Jeffrey Brown, while the last two (of five) are by Jarrett J. Krosoczka who is also the author of Punk Farm and another series I mention in this post. What I think is appealing in these books is how the story is broken up with other elements like character doodles and diary pages, so there’s a bit of a graphic novel feel in a regular chapter book. The age recommendation for this series is 8-12.
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine
Here’s a classic series that may bring on some nostalgia. The original Goosebumps books were first published in 1992. I remember devouring this series when it first came out (pretend that information doesn’t date me). Since then, there have been many new books introduced into the series of scares. I don’t recall what drew me to these books, but for my son it’s definitely his interest in all things weird. For myself and my kids, these books have been more creepy/weird than scary and we’ve had zero nightmare reports; however, you know your kids best. If you think they may be unsettled by the storylines in Goosebumps, you might want to skip over these. If you are interested, you can visit Goosebumps online for a complete book listing and much more.
Dragon Masters by Tracey West
These books make great beginning chapter books, as they include short chapters and illustrated pages. The suggested reading level for this series is ages 6-8. There are six books in the series and each one sort of builds on the other, so it’s best to read them in order. The main character, Drake, is a loveable protagonist and the other Dragon Masters he teams up with along the way are equally entertaining. I like that the dragons in this series are trained, not slain, so there’s adventure without violence for sensitive readers. Wizards, magic, kids on adventures with dragons; it’s awesome.
Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
This is a graphic novel series following a mild-mannered lunch lady that serves, according to her creator, justice…and lunch. Personally, graphic novels aren’t my cup of reading tea. BUT, for some kids, a good comic is the only thing worth reading and, well, reading is reading. As far as graphic novels go, I think this series is neat. There’s a decent amount of words to go with the illustrations and the stories are clever and amusing. My son has been going through these pretty fast, so I’m glad there are ten in the series.
My Weird School by Dan Gutman
With titles like, Ms. Coco is Loco and Mr. Tony is Full of Baloney, it’s no wonder these fun stories are a hit with kids. This series follows a young boy and his classmates through their adventures at Ella Mentry School. <– How clever is that? The characters are interesting and the jokes aplenty. You can even join the Weird Classroom Club online to learn more about the series and its author.
What are some of your kids’ favorite book series? Please share in a comment below!