Resources for Struggling Learners Ages 8-10

Try these recommended books and activities to encourage reading.
By Michelle Anthony, PhD




This is a crucial time for children’s literacy development. If your child struggles to learn, begin to make observations, collect notes, and ask questions. Follow your gut and get your child the support necessary to be successful in school, and beyond! The following books and activities can help encourage your child to read. 

  • Most kids this age want to read “like their friends do.” Which book your child is seen carrying around really matters. For this reason, think about graphic novels or popular chapter books with images in them to allow your child to be like his friends, as well as to have the additional support of visual images to support the words. Think about:
  • Magazines: One way to get children to love reading is to provide many different reading sources and opportunities. Magazines are a great way to expand and extend your child’s reading skills. Some great ones to choose from for this age group:
  • Don’t forget picture books! The ideas above notwithstanding, there are many advanced picture books that contain all the challenge with less intimidation because they are in a familiar format, have picture cues, and are much shorter than chapter books. Many fairy tales fit this bill, as children can draw on schema and/or familiarity with the genre to support the more complicated sentence structure and advanced vocabulary. Be mindful of the version of the tale you get (e.g., East of the Sun West of the Moon by Kathleen Hague is a more complicated retelling than the one by Susanna Davidson). Gauge your child’s ability and use both, as your child’s skill and confidence increase! 
  • Jokes and riddles are a great way to break the ice and get your child reading, especially at this age. Check out 101 Wacky Kid Jokes and Riddles by Judith Bauer Stamper and Genevieve Stamper or 99 1/2 School Jokes, Riddles, & Puns by Holly Kowitt. For online Jokes & Riddles, check out Squigly's Playhouse.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Based on A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin, children can see the world through another’s eyes and go on an interactive journey as Bone, the main character’s brother. This is a playful choose-your-own-adventure that encourages reading, perspective taking, and decision making. Interactive adventures like this are a wonderful way to encourage the reluctant reader! At the end your child gets a map that lets him write about why he made the choices he did—great for problem solving, creative thinking, and writing practice! Explore the additional options at the end and be amazed how quickly your child lights up to reading and writing (e.g., your child can create his own tale for Squirrel) There are a number of other types of virtual adventures on the site so click around and explore! 
  • Get a fun pointer: Who wouldn’t want to read with monster fingertips or fairy fingertips to use as pointers to follow the text? What about a giant googly eye on a Popsicle stick? 
  • Nonfiction fun!: Students who struggle with reading often avoid nonfiction. So choose an activity that they have good background schema to draw on. For example, try this Mayflower interactive to engage your child in some nonfiction fun! 
  • If your child needs additional motivation, think about joining a free online incentive reading program. At services like Book Adventure, you can have your child earn intangibles, such as an extra book at bedtime. With this site, you can monitor your child’s progress, view the comprehension quizzes the site has available, take advantage of parent resources, etc. Or take a look at Scoot Pad, a free online reading skill program which allows you to identify specific areas of your child’s struggles (e.g., adjectives vs. comprehension vs decoding multi syllable words). The content is aligned to Common Core Standards. You can also have your child look at book reviews by other students, which may spark their interest. Share What You Read is a site where kids can create and read books online.
  • The Into the Book website is a wonderful tool to help children, especially struggling readers, develop reading strategies in a fun, interactive, engaging way. 
  • Free Rice is a fantastic site that supports both social and academic goals in this age group. For every correct answer, the organization will donate 10 grains of rice. If you sign up for an account, you can keep track of how many bowls of rice your child donates over time. Practice math facts, grammar, and vocabulary. It’s a “smart” site, meaning it will adjust the level of difficulty to your child’s ability. 
  • Interactive grammar games can also support your child in learning topics that are difficult for him. Try out this site to help your child better learn parts of speech. After, play a form of Mad Libs® at Wacky Web Tales and delight your child in this playful way of learning grammar. 
  • Rescue Maggie's dog, who is trapped on a rooftop through math! Choose from all four operations, and pick your level. The interactive nature of this game makes practicing math facts fun! 
  • Try some fun reading games that will develop skills.
  • Logic Stories: Simple, fun, logic riddles for readers! Try the Stories with Holes series.
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