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