Chapter Books for Reluctant Readers

Welcome, Readers ! Today and in July, I thought I would highlight a few chapter books that I found this year for older students who were reading significantly below grade level. The challenge is unique and complex at the same time as each student has a desire to be seen as an accomplished reader by their peers in 4th and 5th grade but may be still learning the English Language or have additional learning needs which require individualized instruction. Hopefully, I will shine a light on some new and notable books which fit this need.

Let's Get Started with Capstone Press !

 I love this publishing company for struggling readers. It has a wide variety of text fiction, nonfiction, and more.  There are several series that are particularly popular for students in 3rd-5th grade. I will highlight a few favorites...but there are many more series on their website posted below ! 

 Jake Maddox series-- a great fun paced series for sports and adventure lovers. They have a few black and white graphics throughout the book which ranges from 80-100+ pages. These books begin at Guided Reading Levels M (Magic Treehouse series) and Level N (The Chocolate Touch). At this time, they are also published in the Spanish Language as well. 

The Other Side of the Myth  series - Do you think you know myths ? Chances don't know both sides of the myth ! This new series will capture the attention of your students who love ancient civilizations ! Well, Pandora open up the box and all the everything went wrong ! However, this time...hear Pandora's side of the story in "Not the Curious Kind--Pandora Tells All !" This wonderful new series is by Capstone Press as well and begins at a Level N guided reading level.

Pony Tales series--  If you have girls who love horses or dream of riding one, this series may be for you. Follow Molly and her horse, Norton, through a 4-book series of adventures and misadventures that horse lovers and owners can really relate to ! At a Level K, the layout is still appealing to older students who may be reading at an early 2nd grade level ! 

These series are becoming available at Barnes and Noble and other big bookstores. If you would like to directly order, or want to see more series, please go to:

 Scholastic Books and let's take a peek at their new series of book sets, Branches !

These books are scaled for the avid early reader. However, their use of vocabulary,action, and all around kid appeal  to upper grade students who would be upset if I handed them something that looked really young.

Kung Pow Chicken ---- a wonderful new series which features Kung Pow Chicken and his sidekick, Ed Drop, are off to fight adventures and more ! This fast-paced moving series will keep the attention of even the most reluctant reader and help them building reading stamina and enjoyment ! The series books range from a Level M to a Level O. I gave this book to one of my 5th grade students and he really loved book # 1.

Lotus Lane series-- This series is perfect to help girls bridge from early readers to more complex chapter books. Each book features one unique character is a member of the Lotus Lane Girls Club. Each girl has interesting talents and abilities and each book around 90-100 pages revolves around a specific girl's story. At Levels M-O, this series will appeal to 2nd grade readers as well as older students. 

These books can be found at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other retailers. If you would like to see more in this new series, go to:

My only issue with the Branches series is that they have a stamp on the back of the Branches books. It says: Interest Level:   "Appeals to 1st-3rd grade readers"    Reading Level:    "Perfect for 2nd grade"

I simply place a white address label over the top of it on the back cover. After, I would tape over it with clear packing tape. It seemed to help my issue of giving a 5th grader a book that was geared for an earlier reader. 

Please comment below... What are your favorite books for reluctant readers ? 



  1. Thanks for the suggestions! I teach third, but have some lower readers. It's hard to find the appropriate level without looking like a baby book. I plan on checking these out.


    1. I'm so glad that this was helpful for you. :)

  2. Reluctant readers - in middle school, you can't go wrong with Wimpy Kid. My readers also enjoy Big Nate and the Bone series. :) Erin

  3. It's interesting because many of my 4th and 5th graders who are reluctant readers will go to the series you mentioned. However, when I ask them to read it to me and tell me what it's about they cannot. But they will read through a new series on their reading level or another one a little bit above once it is introduced to them.

    I sent 5th graders to 6th grade this year at levels K, L, M being the lowest. What levels are students coming in at in your area, Erin ?

  4. I teach 4th, and I love finding a series for reluctant readers because they (1) have a book choice for the "next" book built right in and (2) series often follow the same plot pattern, so they begin to anticipate what will happen next and gain better comprehension. I like the I Survived series by Tarshis. Reading level R/S (4th grade).

    1. Yes, a lot of my purchases this year have been the first book of a series and some of my third graders noticed that ! I love the I survived series as well.

  5. Thank you so much for these suggestions. I am working with a child who will be going into 6th grade and is reading at a Magic School bus level and he sometimes has trouble with this. It is hard to give older kids books that look so young. High Noon books has many books for kids that are high interest and low reading levels. What I find frustrating is that you can only order these books from the company.

    1. Try Capstone out,., you can buy 1 individual book at a time and see some on their website. Fantastic Mr Fox and George's Marvelous Medicine are at a Level O/P and extremely fun. I usually have a child pick a character and I do as well and we read and reread our way through these laughing the whole way. Dahl is a great writer for vocabulary as well. Enjoy !