I admit….I became a school librarian out of my love of literature. If I could fill a library with historical fiction and poetry I would. The thing is most of the students I work with are not interested in either. Furthermore, they are often admitted “nonreaders”. I find myself looking for ways to get kids reading anything…..especially reluctant boy readers.
Below is an “off the top of my head” list of reading recommends from my super short time as a middle school librarian. However, I’m just getting started in this line of work. There are lots more great reads that moms, friends and other librarians can recommend. I hope they do! Please do.
Reluctant readers can be put off by text heavy pages. There’s tons of great reading material that isn’t word-dense that boys will read. Try the “cereal box” reading philosophy. If something interesting and short is out next to where they are eating, they probably will (don’t tell them that a librarian said it was ok to read and eat at the same place!)
· Picture books – are often of a much higher reading level than what you might think. Great picture books for boys are by authors such as Chris Van Allsburg, Jon Scieszka, and Patricia Polocco.
· Almanacs—especially illustrated almanacs such as Time Almanac for Kids
· Photography Books
· Record Books such as Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and others
· Chicken Soup for the Soul books have lots of short and great inspirational stories
· Short Stories – so many short story books are of those scary tales!
· Cook Books –growing boys are more interested in food and maybe they will cook for/with you!
· Audio books in the form of playaways, CDs or interactive e-books are a great way to take in a story.
Old Fashioned Chapter Books
· Anything by Gordon Korman – a great new book and football story is Pop! Mr. Korman’s website is out of this world great for middle level readers. Go there!
· Anything by Rick Riordan – The Percy Jackson series is just one
· Hank Zipzer Series – funny books by Henry “the Fonz” Winkler about a kid with learning challenges
· Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata
· Love that Dog! By Sharon Creech is a great book in verse
· Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson is a non-fiction capturing the minds of boys everywhere!
· Holes by Louis Sacher…even better than the movie…but watch the movie after reading!
· Home of the Brave is a great book about a Somali “lost boy” who is new to the US
· Breathe by Cliff McNish is a great old fashioned ghost story
And finally, the hard truth is that kids will read more if they see us reading too. We parents and adults have to be seen enjoying reading for them to catch the spirit too. Assign yourself some good middle level reading (trust me, so much of it is as good or better as stuff for adults) and allow them to “steal” a chapter or “read ahead”. Sometimes, that friendly competition can get something started.