5 Book Series Guaranteed to Get Your Kids Reading!

Updated: Jan 13

In an age of raising kids who are double clicking before they are reading or even learning to walk, reluctant readers have become downright commonplace.

We are raising bright, creative, Insta-stars who certainly love the "idea" of books and will spend hours staging perfect, drool-worthy shots of special edition, floral linen-bound classics casually stacked against a tall a pumpkin spice latte, but who wouldn’t actually pick up any of those hashtagged books to read by choice.

However let's not paint the entire Generation Z with one brush, because truly there are the exceptions who still love reading for reading's sake and not for the fandom that goes along with it. Cue dramatic pause of humbled silence. Great. But 9 times out of 10, what we've got on our hands are an entire generation of “reluctant readers”.

What is a Reluctant Reader?

So first, let’s get the definition out of the way. A reluctant reader is a kid who is simply reluctant to read books. And it’s not because he or she can’t read. Actually these kids are usually able readers, but for some reason or another, they are currently checked out of the reading game, or never got into it to begin with.

As parents and educators, we see it every day. Kids who get easily bored by reading, who may have a poor attention span, or who don’t see reading as a cool or fun activity to do. Kids who would rather have someone else read the story to them or simply wait for the movie version to come out.

Is a Reluctant Reader the Same as a Struggling Reader?

No, not necessarily. Struggling readers can exhibit many of the same qualities as reluctant readers, however they face additional challenges with learning to read, due to any number of simple or complex issues. Issues as simple as inadequate instruction when first learning to read or learning English as a second language, to more complex issues like speech and language difficulties, dyslexia, other learning difficulties. Implementing specific strategies for struggling readers is essential to helping your child become a successful reader.

However struggling readers and reluctant readers often share the same general fear of failure when it comes to reading, an awareness that they may be reading below level or with greater difficulty compared to their peers, or have difficulty reading with ease, all things which make make reading for pleasure the last thing they would ever choose to do.

How to Inspire Your Kids to Read

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So now that we've got the requisite label out of the way, how do we fix it? Because let's face it, we are in a battle of wits with our kids over reading. With all the gadgets and devices competing for your kids attention, books can be a hard sell to reluctant readers.

So we do what do best as parents. We coax, coddle, bribe, and hand out ultimatums. We take trips to the library, trips the book fairs, and trips to the trendiest bookstores for hours on end. We scour Pinterest for creative ideas to put together inspiring reading nooks and unbelievably cool DIY bookshelves to get our kids excited about books.

As a parent who has been through this and tried every single one of these suggestions to no avail until I literally stumbled upon the answer at a used book sale, I'm here to save you the hassle and stress and sleepless nights. I'm here to pay it forward.

Because all you need is one book. One. That’s all it takes. One book that will do the trick (and good news, it’s on the list below) and pull your reluctant reader by his/her reluctant, somehow perpetually sticky, hands into the world of books and independent reading.

But it needs to be the right book. So if you're anything like me and have been pushing your own childhood favorites or other award-winning literature classics, just put the Dr. Seuss down and slowly back away. Save Harry Potter for reading aloud or for when they've matured into a solid fan of reading.

Choosing the Right Books for Reluctant Readers

What you need are books that are confidence builders. Books that look like age appropriate, advanced reading books with chapters and everything, but inside use simplified vocabulary and basic ideas. Books that are short. That are fast paced. Books that read like how our kids talk. Preferably books that are funny and include simple illustrations. In short, books that meet the attention span and visual learning style of your average Generation Z kid. I found all this in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. A book that I was totally unfamiliar with at the time, my son picked it up (actually it was book 3, Diary of a Wimpy Kid - the Last Straw).

I definitely didn't plan to write another blog post this week about books, but this topic is too important NOT to write about. And if this post can help even one parent who is struggling with their own reluctant reader, then I’ve done my job for posterity.

So let's get to the good stuff. Here are five incredibly awesome book series for kids that fit the bill and will help revolutionize the way your reluctant reader feels about books, literally overnight.

WeirDo by Anh Do

(Great for ages 6 - 12 years old)

The WeirDo series is an awesome set of books to kick off this list, as they have everything reluctant readers need to get started and get inspired to read - a fast pace, short, funny stories set in elementary school, and line art cartoons to hold their interest. Being the new kid in school with a name like WeirDo and a crazy family with weird habits to match, kids will be cracking up at the silly situations Weir Do finds himself in. And once they finish WeirDo, the fun doesn't have to end because Anh Do is also the author of another great series for reluctant readers, the Ninja Kid series, which you can read about here.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney

(Great for ages 8 - 12 years old)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid books will immediately put your kids at ease, because even though they look thick, chapter books on the outside, inside the pages look like a real diary with well spaced out lines and text in a font that actually looks like handwriting. As your kids get pulled into the world of Greg Heffley, an awkward middle schooler, they will relate to the modern, every day story lines about homework, school drama, and annoying baby brothers, with plenty of funny, hand drawn illustrations to break up the text.

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

(Great for ages 6 - 12 years old)

The name Captain Underpants alone will attract most kids, and with each page of these short, fast-paced chapters, they will get caught up in the hilarious pranks and antics of George and Harold. With plenty of potty humor, ridiculous scenes, and an unforgettable superhero in nothing but his underwear and a cape, these books define reading for pleasure. Another great series by Dan Pilkey is Dog Man which is also perfect for reluctant readers.

Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

(Great for ages 6 - 12 years old)

Filled to the brim with laugh out loud, slapstick humor, the Bad Guys books are addicting and will get your kids hooked from the first page. Part chapter book, part graphic novel, these books feature a hilarious cast of "Bad Guys" that want to be good so badly.

Storey Treehouse Series by Andy Griffiths and Illustrator Terry Denton

(Great for ages 8 - 12 years old)

Now the Storey Treehouse books can only be described as insane and will grab your kids attention from the first page. Written by New York Times-bestselling author Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton, these books are all about this zany duo's adventures living in a tree of incredibly outrageous proportions, beginning with 13 stories and now reaching up to 117 stories. A treehouse filled with shark-infested, see-through swimming pools, marshmallow machines that shoot marshmallows in your mouth, giant gorillas and evil vegetables that keeps growing and growing with each new book.

Did we miss any other great finds for reluctant readers? What has worked with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!

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