Getting the right book in the hands of the right reader can motivate any student to read for pleasure—and, hopefully, will spark a lifelong love of reading. We asked teachers across the country what the best books are to encourage readers.
Here are the three main categories of books—and the specific titles!—teachers like you gravitate to the most. Draw inspiration from them for your own classroom and students!
1. Adventurous Books With High-Interest Topics
Teachers like Kierstin Appleby, a third-grade teacher in Iowa, look for high-interest topics with engaging visuals to motivate readers—and even better if it's a book from a series or well-known author.
“I typically steer my readers to dogs, graphic novels, or adventure stories,” says Appleby. “I’ve found that just about every student loves dogs, images, or adventures, so it only makes sense to start there! I have all three of those ‘genres’ in my classroom library clearly labeled for them, too.”
Appleby loves The Ranger in Time series, which is not only perfect for dog lovers, but ties in historical fiction and adventure at the same time.
“Plus, there are images throughout the books which help to break up the words,” she says. “The chapters aren’t too long, and there’s always a great problem-solution in each book within the series.” To encourage readers, she also suggests the White Fur Flying series and the graphic novel series Amulet.
2. Accessible Books With Relatable Themes
Engaging nonfiction books like those from the National Geographic Kids Readers series are another go-to pick for teachers looking to support their readers. These books cover themes ranging from storms to sea turtles.
“For nonfiction, books with topics they are familiar with—background knowledge—is something I always look for to use in our unit,” says Leana Malinowsky, a second-grade teacher and reading specialist in New Jersey. “Readability is another factor I look for. Young readers need access to texts that are appropriate to read independently, as well as books they can read with assistance.”
“The characters are relatable and the stories have depth to them, yet the text is approachable,” she says. “Reluctant readers I’ve worked with often get ‘hooked’ on reading the Frog and Toad series. Since they understand the story, they are always curious what else the characters do and want to read more.”
3. Joyful Books That Make Readers Laugh
Another great way to support readers is to choose books that incorporate humor and surprise like A Friend for Dragon, adds Malinowsky’s co-teacher Paul Garcia.
“The whimsical Dragon does the strangest things—such as befriend an apple—but is so genuine readers can’t help but love him,” he says. “The text is large and very inviting and accessible to readers, but, as in the Frog and Toad series, has lessons that older readers will appreciate.”
Shop all top books and series to encourage readers below. You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store.