Jump to content


Summer reading ideas for reluctant reader

Recommended Posts

My son will be entering 9tth grade this fall. He had a solid year of outsourced middle school writing and literature this year and has done well enough, with support. He's not a big reader though in his free time, which leads to less than desired concept and vocabulary development. His interests are somewhat narrow. I can maybe get him to read about 30 minutes before bed. I'd like to change that and could use some suggestions.

To give you an idea of what he has enjoyed/not enjoyed reading in the past, starting way back in elementary through now:


I tried the Boxcar Children early on.  He hated those.


In late elementary/early middle he enjoyed the "I Survived' series of books.

He liked "The Sign of the Beaver" in 6th grade and "North to Amaroqvk."

He hated Harry Potter.

In 7th grade in an outsourced English class that used Total Language Plus, he read:


Carry on Mr. Bowditch (didn't care for it)
The Bronze Bow (ditto)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond (ditto)
Where the Red Fern Grows (liked it)

He seems to like more modern day, relatable, understandable books.

We tried A Wrinkle in Time and Island of the Blue Dolphin last summer and he wasn't too keen on either of them.

In the past year, he loved reading the Michael Vey series or listening to the books on CD. He blew through the entire series in short order.

I don't think it was the sci-fi or fantasy that grabbed him, rather the modern day relatable characters.


Right now he is taking a literature mysteries class and has read Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and the later two are ok, the Sherlock Holmes was not a favorite.

Any ideas on what he might like next? How I get my reluctant reader reading again?

Edited by bluebonnetgirl
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does he like non-fiction? Steve Sheinkin's has several very good non-fiction books. My son enjoyed Bomb and Lincoln's Grave Robbers. Weird facts/trivia? My boys love reading the book What If by Randall Monroe. 


There are perhaps a bit on the younger side but I like anything by Gary Schmidt...The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now are both about a modern, relatable character. 


Mysteries? You could go classic...Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express or Ten Little Indians. 


The False Prince is the first in a fantasy series with a relatable main character. 


Graphic Novels? I've been skeptical of these in the past but there are really good graphic novels that my kids have enjoyed. There are John Lewis's ones about the Civil Rights Movement. A fun teenage one is the Bad Machinery series. 



  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

page turners: Alex Rider, Scott Westerfield's Uglies series


Jules Verne


Agatha Christie 'And then there were none'

Al Capone Does My Shirts

The Cay

The Chosen

Fever 1793

LeGuin ' Gifts'

Edited by Heigh Ho
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shiloh, Old Yeller, and Rascal since he liked Where the Red Fern Grows. But he may get to the point my kids did when they begged me "No more dead dog books!"


If he liked The Sign of the Beaver, has he read Johnny Tremain?


Even though he didn't like Harry Potter, he might like Percy Jackson. The Lightning Thief is an easy read...but the later series that starts with The Lost Hero is longer, more challenging and, imo, more satisfying.


He might like The Outsiders. Or Freak the Mighty. Bud, Not Buddy. A Single Shard.


Surviving the Applewhites is pretty funny and it is about a homeschooling family.


Also. I assume that you are looking for free reading books, not literature to study? The books I am recommending are not High School level, though they are interesting and relatable for 12-14yo boys.


And I want to second Bomb. Also non-fiction by Jim Murphy.


ETA: I;m sorry that I didn't put any authors for you - I don't remember them all and I'm on my way out


Edited by Liza Q
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about Hunger Games genre type stuff? Popular with teens right now.


Or anything by Gary Paulson (Hatchet, etc)- lower reading level

Holes, Hoot, Flushed, Out of My Mind- also lower level


Try googling "middle school reading lists for boys" and or the more recent Newberry Award lists.

I found tons of stuff that way when we needed books.


And does he enjoy audio books more? My Dd who struggles with the act of reading has enjoyed all the modern teen lit stuff as audio books. You can still get the vocab input without the picking up a book & sounding stuff out aspect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about Ender's Game? If he likes it he can do the rest of the series. Michael Crichton might be good too, if you are looking to get him to read and not requiring Great Books. Who doesn't like Jurassic Park?


My dd is all about the dystopian teen books so the Maze Runner and Divergent series have been huge here. Oh and whatever Marie Lu's series is called. She's liked all of those better than Hunger Games series (which she still loved at the time.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...