Titles for Reluctant and Struggling Readers

How do you encourage your reluctant or struggling readers to read more and improve their reading skills? Give them books that:

Nonfiction titles for reluctant readers

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History ... and Our Future!, by Kate Schatz


This collection of short biographies presents notable American women representing every letter of the alphabet, from Angela Davis and Billie Jean King to Yuri Kochiyama and Zora Neale Hurston.

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty, by Christine Heppermann


Free-verse poems juxtapose fairy tale elements with teen life, exploring the cruelty of judgment, pressure, and self-doubt while reflecting on how girls are taught to think about themselves, their friends, and their bodies.

Puppy Love: True Stories of Doggie Devotion, by Lisa M. Gerry


This heartwarming collection of true stories explores themes of canine playfulness, friendship, heroism, and loyalty, and is complemented by uplifting National Geographic photography.

Fiction titles for reluctant readers

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall, by Katie Alendar


Sixteen-year-old Cordelia and her family move into a house they just inherited in Pennsylvania—a former insane asylum nicknamed Hysteria Hall by the locals. After the house kills Delia for being “defiant,” she haunts it, meeting other ghosts and learning the building’s dark secrets—and finally realizing she must find a way to save her family and, maybe, herself.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, by April Genevieve Tucholke


This anthology of stories inspired by classic horror tales features contributions by leading suspense and young adult authors, including Stefan Bachmann, Leigh Bardugo, and Kendare Blake.

Skink: No Surrender, by Carl Hiaasen


In this tale of swamp justice by best-seller Carl Hiaasen, a teen boy searches the Florida wilderness for his runaway cousin with the only man who can help him navigate its dangers: an eccentric one-eyed ex-governor nicknamed “Skink.”

Spooky Series for Reluctant Readers

The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud


Follows three young operatives of a Psychic Detection Agency as they battle an epidemic of ghosts in London.

The Whispering Skull, by Jonathan Stroud


Lockwood & Co. are hired to investigate Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead, while Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in a ghost jar

Jackaby, by William Ritter


Newly arrived in 1892 New England, Abigail Rook becomes assistant to R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with the ability to see supernatural beings; and she helps him delve into a case of serial murder in which the perpetrator, Jackaby is convinced, is a nonhuman creature.

Beastly Bones, by William Ritter


In 1892 New England, Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R.F. Jackaby, are called upon to help solve a supernatural murder mystery involving shape-shifters.

Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel, by Melissa de la Cruz


Imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost, the teenaged children of Disney's most evil villains search for a dragon's eye, the key to true darkness and the villains' only hope of escape.

Return to the Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel, by Melissa de la Cruz


When they begin receiving threatening messages they believe are from their villainous parents, Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay know they must return to the Isle of the Lost to find out what is going on before the plot to destroy Auradon succeeds.

Fresh Fiction For Reluctant Readers

Pop, by Gordon Korman


Lonely after a midsummer move to a new town, sixteen-year-old high-school quarterback Marcus Jordan becomes friends with a retired professional linebacker who is great at training him, but whose childish behavior keeps Marcus in hot water.

Boost, by Kathryn Mackel


Thirteen-year-old Savvy's dreams of starting for her elite basketball team are in danger when she is accused of taking steroids.

Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson


After finally getting noticed by someone other than school bullies and his ever-angry father, seventeen-year-old Tyler enjoys his tough new reputation and the attentions of a popular girl; but when life starts to go bad again, he must choose between transforming himself or giving in to his destructive thoughts.

Gym Candy, by Carl Dueker


Mick Johnson, who works hard for a spot on the varsity team his freshman year, tries to hold onto his edge by using steroids, despite the consequences to his health and social life.

Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson


After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

The Compound, by S.A. Bodeen


After spending six years with his family in a vast underground compound built by his wealthy father to protect them from a nuclear holocaust, fifteen-year-old Eli discovers that his father has perpetrated a monstrous hoax on them all.

Graphic Novels for Middle-Grade Reluctant Readers

Batman: A Death in the Family, by Jim Starlin and Marv Wolfman


With Robin dead at the hands of the Joker, Batman must move on from his loss and return to being a lone crime fighter.

The Imaginary, by A.F. Harrold


Imaginary playmate Rudger must find his friend Amanda before he fades away to nothing, all the while eluding the only other person who can see him—evil Mr. Bunting, who hunts (and possibly even eats) imaginaries.

The Savage, by David Almond


A boy dealing with the death of his father expresses his feelings through a story he’s written—about a savage kid living in a ruined chapel in the woods, and what happens when he comes to life in the real world.

Zom-B, by Darren Shan


B and his father think the news report of a zombie breakout in Ireland is a hoax—until zombies attack B's high school.

Thirteen Chairs, by Dave Shelton


When Jack enters a deserted, haunted house in his neighborhood, he finds a group of people who invite him to take the thirteenth chair in the room and share a ghost story.

Darth Vader and Friends, by Jeffrey Brown


Jealousy, birthday parties, lightsaber battles, sharing, intergalactic rebellion, and more all come into play in this humorous look at the friendships among some of the best pals in the “Star Wars” universe.

The Latest for Reluctant Readers

The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice, by Zak Ebrahim


The author discusses his life as the son of a terrorist, and how he came to reject his father’s ideology and embrace the path of nonviolence.

The Amazing Book Is Not on Fire: The World of Dan and Phil, by Dan Howell & Phil Lester


The popular Dan and Phil tell the humorous story of how they grew up to become YouTube stars, and they offer advice to their teen followers.

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe


From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd come hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask.

Hades Speaks! A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead, by Vicky Alvear Shecter


In a nonfiction work that reads like a novel, readers learn about ancient Greek beliefs as Hades, god of the dead, leads them on a tour through his underworld realm filled with monsters, furies, giants, and vampire demons, while revealing ancient death rites, describing sinister curses, and relating hair-raising stories.

MMA Now! The Stars and Stories of Mixed Martial Arts, by Brian Sobie


Readers learn the history of mixed martial arts, and are introduced to the top forty fighters competing today.

Human Body Theater, by Maris Wicks


In this nonfiction work in graphic-novel format, the Master of Ceremonies at the Human Body Theater leads readers through a theatrical revue of every biological system, starting with the skeleton.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet, by Felicia Day


Memoir recounts the author’s quirky childhood, and discusses how she came to be one of the most recognized creators on YouTube.

Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum


Jessie feels totally disoriented after her mother dies and her father remarries and moves her to a new, swankier life in Los Angeles. Things get even stranger, however, when she receives an anonymous email offering to help her navigate her new surroundings.

Dan Versus Nature, by Dan Calame


Dan, a teen graphic novel artist, decides to use a survivalist camping trip to try to scare off his soon-to-be stepdad. What could possibly go wrong?

A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro


Two girls attending a Connecticut boarding school—descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson—team up to solve a murder mystery.