I never thought I’d have a “reluctant reader.” Truthfully, I’m not sure how it even happened.
I read aloud.
There are books pouring out of every nook and cranny in our home. It’s true. I hate clutter, but the bookshelves runneth over.
The child’s siblings read.
We are just a family of readers.
But then this child came along and really had a hard time, getting into reading. He’s more active and would prefer to just go outside and play. And that’s fine with me.
But we still need to read sometimes.
Reading is harder for this kid, and I suspect for most young reluctant readers, than the others. He got the sports gene and the reading gene is seeming to take a little longer to develop. But “I Can Read” books are too “babyish” for him. I categorize him as reluctant rather than just emerging because he has determined that because it is not easy he doesn’t want to do it. I have to have high interest stories for him to be willing to pick up and read so that he gets the necessary practice and develops his own joy of reading.
I look for chapter books with large words, frequent and interesting pictures, and a story worth reading. Also, it can’t be thick. If it even resembles being a thick book, he won’t approach it yet.
The following books have my young reluctant reader waking up early to read the next chapter.
The Matchlock Gun is a Newbery Medal winner from 1942. They story is based on real life experience of the Val Alstyne family in 1756, two years after the start of the French and Indian Wars. Young Edward is left at home with his mother and young sister while his father goes with the militia to ward off a potential Indian attack. The militia was out maneuvered, however, and young Edward must help to protect his family. There are some who have contentions with this book, but I’m not one of them. I go into a little more of it here.
The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster is the first Jigsaw Jones Mystery. It’s a fun and fast read. Jigsaw Jones realizes the mysteries are like puzzles, which he adores, so he sets about charging $1 per day to solve other people’s problems. In the process, he goes about putting things in alphabetical order, interviewing other people, and doing book research. And yet, in spite of all the educational push, the book did not feel preachy – to me or my reader. My reader finished this in a few days. Read a bit more here.
Along Came a Dog is a Newbery Honor book and completely worthy of a sigh. Whenever I bring it out to read aloud everyone comes from the corners they are hiding in to join me on the couch. It’s just that good. A stray dog decides to make his home on a farm – whether the owner wants him or not – and then sets about protecting a lame chicken. It’s an unlikely friendship in a story with just the right amount of suspense. In fact, every time I read it I worry about that poor dog and that poor chicken and if they’re ever going to make it to a happy ending. Thankfully, I’m never disappointed and everything works out just the way it should. Read more here.
My Father’s Dragon is a story that I was loathe to read at first. Dragon’s, I had been told, are to be conquered and not tamed to be ridden home on. Still, it was on all the book lists, a Newbery Honor winning book, and I didn’t feel quite right with the entire dragon banning essay to begin with. So the book – and it’s two sequels – came into our home with joy. The story is a very serious silly one and comes complete with it’s own map of The Island of Tangerina. If only my own father was that adventurous! Read more here.
The Night at Dawn (Magic Tree House #1) is another one of those books that I swore off for the longest time. I don’t think for any good reason, either. But the Knight at Dawn captured my own knight’s attention within the first few pages and held it to the end. Not quite as many pictures as some of the other books, but it’s shorter. There is some suspense – will the kids get hurt or get back to Frog Creek. This book isn’t rocket science. It’s not a hard hitting history lesson or a moral tale. It’s a just a simple story the new readers still struggling with proficiency can read and enjoy. I talk about it a bit more here.
The Littles is a story about a small family – literally, the biggest Little is 6 inches – who live in the wall of the Bigg family. To survive, they help themselves to the Bigg family’s things: food, old discarded socks, etc. In return, the Littles do things for the Bigg’s: maintain the wiring inside the walls, fix the plumbing, etc. None of this known, of course, to the Bigg’s. In this first book, the Bigg’s head off for a vacation and the Newcomb’s stay at the house. But life isn’t the same for the Littles and they are determined to scare them away. A perfect book, of course, because who wouldn’t like little people living in the walls to help clean your room and finish your chores, ya know? A little bit more on the story over here.
Bonus! I can’t count! I only listed 6 books above. I could include a book about math. There are quite a few, but none that are so interesting they’ll grab my reluctant reader’s attention. So we’ll count seven as the series. Is that okay? Will you let me cheat this once? Many of the books above are series so that your reader has plenty to read while he or she grows comfortable with reading. Likely you won’t run out of stories.
What about you? What are your favorite beginning chapter books for those struggling young reluctant readers?
Linking up with Anne’s Quick Lit today.