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High-Interest Books for Struggling Middle School Readers

Hi-lo books are the way to go for many older struggling readers.
on February 09, 2017
 

Editor's note: This post was originally published on March 24, 2014.

Your older struggling reader is in a tough spot. 

He wants to be a stronger reader, and he wants to read what his classmates are reading. 

He wants to be able to contribute to conversations about the latest book in a popular series, and he wants to be seen picking out the same books in the media center as his peers.

So it's imperative that your child has strong, rich reading material to help build his skills and give him the drive to want to read more. A sixth grader reading at a second grade level will not want to be seen carrying around a "baby book," even if it's the only thing she can read.

Struggling older readers need high-interest texts. They need well-written, engaging books on topics that are cool, hip, and relevant. They need books that they can read with relative ease.

The books they need are often referred to as "hi-lo" or high-interest, low-level.  

Here are 10 high-interest books that might appeal to your struggling middle school reader:


Bad Island by Doug TenNaple
What begins as a family vacation ends in an unexpected way when Reese is shipwrecked and ends up on Bad Island. This graphic novel is a favorite for many middle school students. 


Amalee by Dar Williams
Amalee is challenged to lean on her father's four best friends when her dad becomes ill. On top of other middle school struggles, Amalee wonders how she will move through this difficult time.


On the Run series by Gordon Korman
The Falconers are facing serious trouble unless their kids, Aidan and Megan, can prove their innocence and get their parents out of prison. Start this series with book one, Chasing the Falconers.


Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo
Charlie Bone is a young boy with a powerful ability to look at photographs and hear conversations that took place at the time. This series is engaging and interesting, and struggling older readers will enjoy it. The series starts with Charlie Bone and the Hidden King.


Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce
Nate is not even close to being a perfect kid, which is why readers love following his adventures. Big Nate: In a Class by Himself is the first book in the series.


Sixth Grade Secrets by Louis Sachar
Secrets are revealed and friendships are challenged when Laura and her friends form a top-secret club at school.


I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis
This series follows fictional characters as they experience real disasters and historical events. The first book is about the sinking of the Titanic. Super support for each text can be found here.


Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Told by two memorable characters in two different ways — one with words and one with pictures — this book is definitely a favorite of middle school readers.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley shares his thoughts on middle school in his personal diary. He is super-funny, honest, and observant, and the handwritten font and doodles throughout will engage readers from the outset. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the first of an eight-book series, and kids will love each one. 


Smile by Raina Telgemeier
A graphic novel that is somewhat autobiographical in nature, Raina shares what happens when her "dental drama" is compounded by "normal" middle school stresses. 

Thankfully, there are many great high-interest, low-level texts to choose from, and the list keeps growing. 

What are your favorite picks? Let us know! Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find Amy on Twitter, @teachmama, and let's continue the conversation!

Featured Photo Illustration © Jeff Kinney/Doug TenNapel/Chris Sheban

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Check out bloggers Amy Mascott and Allie McDonald's book, Raising a Rock-Star Reader: 75 Quick Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Lifelong Love for Reading. Get expert advice and learn new strategies for your young readers.

 

 

 

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Get the latest advice, tips, and resources on helping your child read at every age and every stage. Each week, find kids' book reviews, ways to extend the reading experience, and tips on how to spark a reader's interests from our expert contributors and editors.

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