For my first 5 years of teaching, I taught 6th and 7th grade Language Arts; however, in 2011, I switched to teaching Intensive Reading for the students in my school who had not passed the state assessment. When I moved to primarily teaching struggling readers, I knew I had to exam more deeply which books would truly grab these students’ attention and help them identify as readers. After a year in this position, I have some go-to books that I find have become great foundations for my students to grow into just plain readers, not struggling or reluctant. And now, after two years as an intensive reading teacher, I’m very lucky to become my school’s Reading Coach. I cannot wait to help all of the struggling/reluctant readers in our school find the just-right books to make them love reading.
Top 20 Books for Struggling and Reluctant Middle School Students 2012-2013
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series) by Jeff Kinney
Big Nate (series) by Lincoln Peirce
Bone (series) by Jeff Smith
Knights of the Lunch Table (series) by Frank Cammuso
Sidekicks by Dan Santat
I Survived… (series) by Lauren Tarshis
Maximum Ride: The Manga (series) by James Patterson
Any nonfiction book by Seymour Simon
Dork Diaries (series) by Rachel Renee Russell
Bluford (series) by various
Surviving Southside (series) by various
Popularity Papers (series) by Amy Ignatow
Any novel in verse, specifically Lisa Schroeder and Sonya Sones
After looking at my students’ checkouts for the year, I would definitely also add these to the list:
Each year, I will share my students’ favorites to keep you all updated:
Reflection Note (2018): This post was originally written years ago, and I now struggle with the terms struggling and reluctant readers. The connotation behind these terms is so negative when really these students need all positivity in their lives. There are other options I’ve heard over the year like striving, undiscovered, or developing; however, I think in general we need to just remember that all readers are individuals, and we need to get to know each kid to see exactly what they need. I explain more in my You Tube Literacy Teachers Vlog interview: https://youtu.be/dxaa8966c0k.
What books/series do you find to be most popular with your middle school readers?
Have you found success with the books I listed above?
Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? Did you/your students enjoy them?