No doubt you work to fill your classroom with the best kid books to encourage your students to read, but if you’ve encountered a reluctant reader who insists they ‘hate to read,’ it can all feel very discouraging. Here’s a bit of good news for you! As teachers, we know motivating kids to read makes it a challenge to find the right books to spark their attention, but it’s a challenge we are up for!
Finding that one character, or even better, an entire series of books that motivates kids to read is an absolute ‘Hallelujah!’ moment as a teacher – so we did exactly that! The Teach Starter teacher team has been in your shoes plenty of times and has come out the other end with a wealth of book suggestions and advice that we have compiled to help you fill your reading corner with some of our very favourite options for encouraging even the most reluctant students to curl up with a book!
Read on to find a list of books for kids who ‘hate reading’ that will have your students singing a very different tune.
Whether you are searching for books for boys, books for girls, or just the best books for kids, here is a collection that is sure to encourage a love of reading in some of those kids who need a little motivation to become readers.
Best Kids Books for Reluctant Readers
1. ‘Hey Jack!’ collection by Sally Rippin
These funny, true-to-life stories follow protagonist Jack as he faces plenty of challenges and adventures in his life that the reader can probably relate to. Each book in the collection from Aussie author Sally Rippin is perfect for newly independent and early years students without big blocks of text or intimidating words.
2. Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Andrew McDonald
Pigeons fighting crime? Say no more!
We loved this review from an 8-year-old over at Booktopia — ‘Real Pigeons is really funny and very WEIRD. I have read it about 50 times.’ Who could hate reading with a book like that in their classroom?
Suitable for kids aged 6 and over, this humorous book follows the adventures of a flock of crime-fighting pigeons out to catch the bad guys. It’s full of mystery and clever twists to entertain even the most stubborn readers.
3. Wombat Warriors by Samantha Wheeler
Written by Australian author Samantha Wheeler, this heart-warming picture book follows the tale of ‘Mouse,’ who sets out to find her voice and protect her wombat friend Miss Pearl. While entertaining, it also touches on important social emotional topics and communicates important underlying messages about protecting Australian wildlife and their habitats.
4. The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams
With a title like that, this is another kids book that is bound to catch the attention of even the most reluctant reader amongst your students.
Based on a classic cautionary tale, this witty book contains 10 stories about 10 mischievous and eccentric children — such as ‘Sofia Sofa’ who spends so much time on the sofa that she’s turning into one. Targeted at kids between 7 and 9 years old, it is bound to get some giggles from your students and engage even those reluctant readers.
5. D-Bot Squad by Mac Hunter
Described as a book written to get kids reading (and stay reading!), this is a perfect pick to help foster young bookworms.
Best for motivating those reluctant readers in Years 1 and 2, this adventurous story combines robots and dinosaurs as a group of kids travels through time to save dinosaurs from extinction through colourful pictures and straightforward words. With eight total books in the series, students won’t be able to just stop at one!
6. Babymouse series by Jennifer Holm
Like many of the books on this list, Babymouse is a graphic novel that gives kids pictures along with their words so they can dip their whiskers (ahem, did we mention this is about a mouse?) into the world of reading.
Best for motivating your year 2 or 3 students, these books by Jennifer Holm follow the eponymous character on her classroom adventures where everything doesn’t exactly go as planned, but with a little pluck, she makes it through anyway.
7. ‘WeirDo’ collection by Anh Do
Aussie author Ahn Do brings kids the story of Weir Do — the new kid at school with an unforgettable last name. Weir Do’s name plays homage to his family’s heritage — a biracial kid, his mum is white, and Weir is her maiden name, while his dad is Vietnamese and Do is his last name. Suitable for kids aged 7 to 10, the books offer important representation for students with Asian backgrounds who will be able to see themselves in your classroom reading corner.
While the books do touch on race, it is not the central theme of these fun and funny books for kids.
Instead, there’s a lot to laugh at as Weir Do leans into his uniqueness and of course butt jokes …
Just consider this line from the collection: ‘My parents could have given me any first name at all, like John, Kevin, Shmevin… ANYTHING. Instead, I’m stuck with the worst name since Mrs. Face called her son Bum…’
8. ‘The Bad Guys’ collection by Aaron Blabey
Your students might have caught the film adaptation of The Bad Guys books on the big screen — which offers you a great hook to lure them to try these fun (and funny) kids books. Written by an Aussie author, the Bad Guys books series tells the story of four carnivores working hard to change their image.
‘Mr Wolf. Mr Shark. Mr Snake. Mr Piranha.
They’re bad guys, everybody knows that. They’re scary and dangerous and well… just BAD.
But these guys want to be HEROES. And they’re going to prove it by doing good deeds… whether YOU want them to or not. Buckle up for the funniest, naughtiest and coolest book you’ll ever read – it’s time to meet the BAD GUYS.’
Aaron Blabey won the Children’s Book of the Year at the 2016 INDIE Awards, and his popular series counts ‘Captain Underpants’ and ‘Dog Man’ creator Dav Pilkey amongst its biggest fans.
9. Dog Man book series by Dav Pilkey
Speaking of Dav Pilkey, his canine cop is part man, part dog and all parts fun. With themes of empathy, kindness, persistence and the importance of being true to one’s self, Dog Man comes from an author who understands what it’s like to struggle in school.
Pilkey was diagnosed with both ADHD and dyslexia as a kid and was often kicked out of classes for being disruptive. It was then that he developed his love of drawing and eventually storytelling, and now he combines the two loves to create graphic novels that hook young readers who are going through very similar situations to those he experienced in childhood!
10. The City of Ember Series by Jeanne DuPrau
Written for children ages 8 to 12, this kids’ book series for upper years classrooms contains thought-provoking themes that are highly relevant to our world today. With a driving sci-fi mystery narrative, The City of Ember is another book that is great for older kids who are sometimes reluctant to read.
‘The four Books of Ember tell the story of a city where it’s always dark. There’s no sun, no moon, no light at all unless the electricity is on. And the electricity is beginning to fail.
Is there a way to save the people of Ember? No one knows. But Lina Mayfleet has found a puzzling document, and Doon Harrow has made discoveries down in the Pipeworks. With these clues, they start their search.’ — Jeanne DuPrau
11. The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
Perfect for ages 6 to 9, this popular series makes the real world and fairy tale worlds collide. Twins Alex and Connor find themselves lost in the Land of Stories, where the magical characters they know aren’t quite as they expect!
Got a ‘Glee’ fan in the classroom? Tell them this book series was written by the one and only Chris Colfer, aka Kurt Hummel.
12. The Treehouse Series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
The Treehouse books are a series designed for 8 to 12-year-olds that takes kids on a Swiss Family Robinson-style treehouse adventure. We’ll let the authors explain this one:
‘Andy and Terry’s 13-story treehouse is the most amazing treehouse in the world! It’s got a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of man-eating sharks, a giant catapult, a secret underground laboratory and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you’re hungry.’ – Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
And the treehouse just gets bigger and bigger and bigger! Each new book brings with it hilarious new adventures from the author who penned the classic ‘The Day My Bum Went Psycho.’
13. Frogkisser by Garth Nix
If you’ve got reluctant readers on your hands, a classic fairytale in your classroom might catch their attention and provide motivation to read for fun!
This quirky and imaginative book for kids aged 12 and over follows Princess Anya as she sets out on a journey or ‘sister promise’ to help a prince who’s in love with her sister but has unfortunately been cursed into a frog.
14. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney
Best for kids aged 8 to 12, this book is a kids classic and was turned into a family comedy movie in 2010! Jeff Kinney’s books are legendary for their ability to engage kids who say they ‘hate’ reading, sucking them into Greg’s journey and making every kid abhor the cheese touch.
15. Tom Gates Series by Liz Pichon
If you’re looking for another relatable story to spark interest in your reluctant readers, the Tom Gates series is a good place to start.
Best for ages 8 and over, this quirky series will keep kids entertained with more than 25 books in the series. The story follows Tom, who wants his story to make it into his school’s storybook and turns to his collection of odd objects with funny stories behind them for inspiration.
16. Little Lunch by Danny Katz
One for the younger readers, this series by Danny Katz is made up of six fabulously illustrated stories about a group of kids and their adventures during their lunchtime. From wacky mishaps to unexpected friendships, each story gives a relatable glimpse into the life of primary school students.
The book is full of heart and humour to engage kids who say they are not fans of reading.
17. ‘Flat Stanley’ collection by Jeff Brown
Not just a successful children’s book series, Flat Stanley has inspired the writing and exchange of letters between children all around the world!
The Flat Stanley project connects classrooms across the globe, who send each other a ‘flat’ character. Students track and document their character’s journey, participating in exchanges via traditional mail, email or the Flat Stanley Project app.
18. Big Nate books by Lincoln Pierce
This graphic novel features Big Nate and life … that comes at you fast! The series follows Year 6 student Nate Wright and all the challenges that come with being in the upper years. A perfect series of kids who are hitting up against all the hurdles that come with becoming a tween, Big Nate is a book for kids who are just … kids!
19. Geronimo Stilton books by Geronimo Stilton
Geronimo Stilton isn’t just a character in this popular children’s book series — he’s the author! This mouse runs a newspaper with whisker-licking stories we can’t help but love. Featuring sister Thea Stilton, these books for young readers come from Geronimo Stilton, the publisher of ‘The Rodent’s Gazette’, Mouse Island’s most famouse newspaper. Yes, we said ‘famouse.’
There they are! Some of the best kids’ books around to help them feel seen and motivate them to read. While there are many more excellent books around to help encourage kids who don’t usually enjoy reading, hopefully, this list will have given you a good place to start!