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Books for 10 year old who finds reading a challenge?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
My ten year old daughter needs a lot of reading practice to improve her fluency. She enjoys reading but has always found it to be really challenging. Her interests are far beyond her abilities at this point, so finding her good reading material has been hard. While her friends are all reading the Hobbit, Series of Unfortunate Events. the 5th Harry Potter, and other 300 page books she is finding it hard to get through a 100 page book.

We've been reading aloud fun stuff like Piers Anthony, the Hatchet books, LOTR... Unfortunatly when she picks up a book at her own reading level she gets bored with it almost right away, You can see her eyes glazing over. Rainbow Fairies, Magic Treehouse, ivy and Bean, Katie Kazoo, or any of the popular kids learn-to-read series books are like the kiss of death to her. I want to find books that will help with her fluency, but I don't want her to hate it. Her poor brain is ready for Neil Gaiman and Madeline L'Engle but her skills are not anywhere close yet. greensad.gif

She has a really hard time getting 1/4 of the words she reads but somehow has incredible comprehension. It's a weird mystery that even her teacher is puzzled by. Her teacher advises finding basic books for her and just having her tough out the boredom until she picks up a bit more speed and fluency. I agree, but if I could find a few books that would appeal to her the so much the better.

I'd like to find a few good novels that she can read aloud to me in the car and that she can read silently. Any advice on interesting, easy-to-read books would be awesome!
post #2 of 15

The book that got my son reading was one that I had not wanted  him to read and I had hidden it away. It was the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Someone had given him a couple of these books when he was five years old.  I had taken a look at it and thought he is way too young, I did not really like the look of it - but I could not bring myself to throw them out.  Instead I hid them way up on our bookcase behind some books. Well a few years later when he was 9 1/2 he found them.  He remembered that we had not wanted to read these books to him and my husband had said something like when you can read these, you can read them. That was what he remembered and he went off and read them.  He found them really funny, and his joy of reading and his confidence greatly increased. He is 10 now and is an avid reader, a few months after the wimpy kid, he read all of the Harry Potters.  So, diary of a wimpy kid may be a good one to check out. Other books he enjoyed reading after were the How to Train your Dragon series.  Way better than the movie, funny, and a bit easier than the Harry Potter books.  On a side note - the author for the Wimpy Kid books was in town recently and I took my son and his friend to the Wimpy kid book signing party. We had to wait for hours to get the book signed. There were hundreds of excited kids and tired parents. The kids seemed to be all around the age of 10.  When my son was getting his book signed he leaned over and said something to the author. When I asked him later what he said, he told me he told the author that "his book was the first one he had ever read."

post #3 of 15
Do they still make "choose your own adventure" books? I found those fun to read at that age but were simple as well.
There is a reading curriculum called Accelerated Reader which gives books levels according to sentence and word length and ??. i'm pretty sure the internet or the library has a list of books at your kids level that could also be a good starting point.
post #4 of 15
Beast Quest books are engaging and short but I've had the most luck letting dd choose books on her own and reading a chapter here and there when she slows down on reading to get her engaged again.

Does your fluency test have a comprehension component? Ours doesn't so I taught dd to read like a robot and not stop for missed words. Reading with expression is what causes her to fail it. She reads and comprehends above grade level so we just practiced robot reading.
post #5 of 15

Isn't it a shame that there aren't more exciting, not-babyish books for kids who are still learning to read well?  Like fantasy or science fiction type stuff?  That was frustrating for me when my DD was still struggling with fluency.  What she liked best at first was graphic novels.  The Bone graphic novel series varies in reading level but some of the books are 3rd grade level.  (The first one has a grade level equivalent of 3.6.)  It sounds like your DD is about at a 2nd-3rd grade reading level, so those might work for her either now or soon.  They're really good, not at all too babyish for a 10 year old. The Amulet graphic novel series is a similar reading level.  Around the time my DD was reading books like those, she also enjoyed the Warriors graphic novels by Erin Hunter, so they're probably a similar reading level also.  Your library probably has lots of other graphic novels at a wide variety of reading levels; I'd suggest browsing them to see if there's anything that seems right for your DD.


Another thing you can try is going to the Scholastic Book Wizard site and searching by reading level, filtering the results by interest level.  When I tried searching for books from grade level equivalent 2.5 to 3.2, filtering for 6th-8th grade interest level, I got 157 results.  One of them that caught my attention was The Fire-Eaters by David Almond.  We recently listened to another book of his, Skellig, as an audio book, and it was good.  The Fire-Eaters supposedly has a grade level equivalent of only 2.7 and when I previewed it on Amazon it looked that could be correct.  The text doesn't seem that difficult, but it's definitely not written for little kids.  It seems weird and interesting, and probably intended for kids a bit older than your DD.


Does your DD like funny books?  The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung Fu Cavemen from the Future (by Dav Pilkey, who also wrote the Captain Underpants books) is only GLE 2.5.  My DD thought it was really funny when she was just a bit younger than yours.  The Captain Underpants books are a bit more difficult, but they're silly and have lots of pictures so they don't feel very difficult.


My DD liked a book called Trapped in Space by David Johnson.  From what I can see on Amazon, it appears to be one of a group of "high interest, low-level" books for older kids reading at a 2nd to 3rd grade level.

post #6 of 15
Agree with the previous poster that ""Bone" and "Amulet" are top notch graphic novels to try. How about Hugo Cabret? It's huge, but shorter text and interesting illustrations. I think there is a "girl" graphic novel called smile that has garnered some positive reviews.

You might look in the non fiction- a few of the Greek mythology books are in graphic novel form. Classic Starts may be a way to expose her to classic stories with simplified text. I see these at Barnes and Noble.

I like that you are reading more complex books to your daughter- her comprehension will be well advanced when her mechanical skills kick into higher gear.
post #7 of 15

I hated reading books as a child. Still do. I don't know if it's due to eye problems or what. I have a lazy eye., and I do get migraines. I can surf the web all day if I am looking for things that interest me.... I am definitely a non-fiction reader and I love true stories. I have read a few self-help type parenting books in recent years, but that's about it.  I will always remember reading "Island of the Blue Dolphins" when I was a child. I remember it because it was probably the only book I read for a long time. I don't know if I even finished it, but I enjoyed reading it. Target dollar bin has a lot of the classics like this. I picked up a few for my son.

post #8 of 15

My kids are still pretty young, but I've compiled lists of highly recommended books for each age group through about 8th grade which I've posted on my website. You might be interested in the lists for mid-elementary (3rd and 4th grades) and late elementary (5th and 6th grades). These aren't my personal recommendations, but rather books that have been recommended by various published sources like 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up (which is okay) and The Read Aloud Handbook (which is awesome).


I fully recommend using audiobooks as her reading skills are catching up to her comprehension skills. Maybe you could start listening to something like The Graveyard Book in the car. (I love Neil Gaiman.) If she gets interested enough in it, maybe she'd be eager to read ahead on her own. Even if she wanted to listen to it and read along at the same time, I recall there being at least one study showing that that was helpful. Also, keep in mind that public libraries frequently stock audiobooks and can usually request titles they don't own from other libraries in the system. I never pay for audiobooks.

post #9 of 15
Or thinking outside the box, there's audiobooks, magazines, or graphic novels/anime. Most of my students with learning disabilities gravitate towards those.
post #10 of 15
Way about listening to an audiobook while reading along?
post #11 of 15

We found the audio books really helped DD. A lot of what she was struggling with when reading were names.


Once she'd listened to a few chapters of the first Harry Potter book she was much more confident reading it, even before getting to the end of the audio version. It's been the same with several others. It does take a bit of checking to find unabridged audio books though.

post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by tinuviel_k View Post

She has a really hard time getting 1/4 of the words she reads but somehow has incredible comprehension. 

this really spoke out to me. if you have already gone through what i am going to suggest then just ignore the post.


i am thinking either vision issues - possibly tracking or some sort of learning disability. her kind of eye issues may not be caught with the typical eye test they have at school. you need more of a pediatric indepth eye test.


my thinking is - this is not really about reading. this is a child who clearly understands, who has a great vocabulary, who enjoys stories but somehow is having a hard time reading. its not the content that is the problem - its the very act of reading. wonder how her spelling is. 


i feel there is something going on here. 

post #13 of 15
The age that shes ar makes it tough to come up with specific recommendations, but for a slightly older crowd there's Orca Publishers--Easy to read but age-appropriate high-interest novels for middle school and up.
post #14 of 15

Is she drawn to fantasy? You listed a lot of fantasy titles.


I have a 10 yr old avid reader. She reads well above grade level and does like fantasy, but she loves, loves, loves funny (and coincidentally easy to read) books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Nate the Great, Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, Baby Mouse, etc. These are all graphic novels or are available as graphic novels in some titles (Big Nate). They're about older elementary and middle school kids, so the humor is appealing to the 10 yr old reader.


We also love, love, love audio books and always have one in progress in the car. Right now we're on the last book in the Artemis Fowl series. It is also available as a graphic novel if that might interest her. We listen to a lot of fantasy audio books. Dd1 (7th grade) loves that genre a little more. If I can find a book that is funny, fast-paced, and fantasy/sci-fi I know I've got a winner for both of them.


For short fantasy novels she might like have you tried Catwings by Ursula LeGuin or the Fairy Realm series by Emily Rodda. Catwings is shorter (about 50 pages) and there are 4 books in the series. 


I think the graphic novel suggestion is a great one. My kids have some of the Amulet ones and have enjoyed those and have several other titles as well. When my dd1 was about 10 she, too, was a reluctant reader. In her case I think her anxiety just made her shut down and not open up to the experience of reading. A lot of her friends were reading the Warriors series, though, and she was feeling left out, but I found it in graphic novel format and got her the first one or two and that helped her feel a little more part of the group and also gave her some more reading experience. For her the reading just clicked one day.


I volunteer in my dd2's elementary school library and one of the assistants there is very down on graphic novels, but I think they're great. I think the library assistant feels like they're sort of dumbed down, but really they're their own art form. The librarian herself (not the assistant) has no problem at all with them and the kids all love them. I think they're excellent for reluctant readers because they really aren't little kid books, but they offer a lot of support for figuring out the text. There are so many great titles out there now. There are titles unique to the format like Amulet and Bone and others that have been adapted like the Artemis Fowl books, the Rick Riordon Percy Jackson series, even A Wrinkle In Time. My dd2 loved The City of Ember, and there's a Coraline GN, too. If you can get her reading one that has been adapted that might spark her to go back and read the original, too.

Edited by beanma - 1/9/14 at 8:00pm
post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by CamMom View Post

Agree with the previous poster that ""Bone" and "Amulet" are top notch graphic novels to try. How about Hugo Cabret? It's huge, but shorter text and interesting illustrations. I think there is a "girl" graphic novel called smile that has garnered some positive reviews.


Just to clarify, the main character in "Amulet" is a girl. I don't know "Smile", but it looks good, too.

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