Giving struggling readers the option of reading ebooks can be immensely powerful – when you read an ebook you are the only one that knows what you are reading, therefore students often don’t feel the same embarrassment accessing easier texts as when they are reading very visibly short paper books. Pictures show very sharply and in vivid colour on screens and this helps to engage tech obsessed young people. Another advantage is the ease of carrying your ebook with you, kids can continue reading wherever they are using an app on their phone or tablet. This helps them make the most of every little bit of reading opportunity, whilst allowing them to give the impression that in fact they are involved in social media …….not doing something as ‘geeky’ as reading! There are many excellent titles available in digital form, here are some suggestions for primary and secondary age pupils.
Boffin Boy and the Invaders from Space (David Orme) – the Boffin Boy series is very popular with both younger and slightly older kids, they are attractively designed to not look like ‘baby’ books and their manga like illustrations are colourful and eye catching.
Magic Mates and the Puppy Panic (Jane West) – it is a common misconception that only boys struggle with reading but this is definitely not the case, many girls have difficulties reading too. I’m not really a fan of having ‘girls books’ and ‘boys books’ usually, a great story should leap gender boundaries with ease, but it has to be said that some girls do enjoy pink books and there’s nothing wrong with that. The Magic Mates series are targeted at young females and they are plays which is a big bonus, many low level readers enjoy the group reading of a play.
Beetles (Rebecca Rissman) – Non fiction can be a way in to reading for some children and lots of them are very interested in minibeasts. This title is one of a series called Creepy Crawlies that have a very low reading age but would be fascinating for any lover of insects.
Beyond the Wall (Jonny Zucker) – I have always loved using comics and graphic novels to create an excitement around reading and luckily there are some wonderful series that are suitable for younger readers – it’s not all about Marvel and DC! Beyond the Wall is from the Slipstream Graphics series and is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet in its portrayal of a doomed relationship. Good for upper primary aged pupils.
Monsters on Mercury (Tommy Donbavand) – This is one of a new series, Spacehoppers, from the author of another popular series, Scream Street. Tommy has a knack for writing very funny books and this series are amusing and a good first step into reading chapter books. They are short and sure to be enjoyed by those that like humour with their stories – another title in the series , Undead on Uranus, would undoubtedly promote many giggles.
The Hitchhiker (Anthony Horowitz) – Stories from this very well known author in graphic novel form, the Horowitz Graphic Horror series have been reimagined in graphic form very well and despite their low level vocabulary look like any other exciting comic book. A must buy for any school library in my opinion.
Babysitter Nightmare (Shoo Rayner) – Shoo Rayner is a well known author and illustrator, I have always associated him with quite lighthearted books but this one certainly isn’t that! It’s one of a collection of plays for older kids, Superscripts and tells the tale of Amy who receives a disturbing text and has to call the police for help. These plays are very contemporary and I’ve used them in the past with struggling readers who want to act out what they are reading.
I Dare You! (Steve Brezenoff) – Scary books that frighten the life out of you and mystery stories seem to be perennially popular with young adults. Our main protagonist, Kayla is in a gang with 3 friends called the Braves and they take it in turns to dare each other to do things. Kayla is dared to stay overnight in a haunted house but when her friends turn up the next morning she is in a coma and appears to have been poisoned – will the others find out who is trying to kill her in time?
Hot or Not? (Sam Carter) – Amber is a girl – but not a ‘girly girl’, she plays football and lives in sportswear but the boy she fancies isn’t taking any notice of her so she asks her friend to give her a makeover. It works, and Kai asks her out… but the date doesn’t go well, Kai is not the great catch Amber thought he was! She goes back to being her sporty self and realises this is the best way to be; other boys are attracted to her just as she is. Good low level story for struggling secondary girls with a positive message too – win win!
Meet Steve Sharp (H L Dube) – The Steve Sharp series suit older readers with a low reading age – their subject matter makes them unsuitable for younger children as they do make reference to drugs and other more adult themes but they are fast paced despite their low reading age. Some older students (would find them interesting, and hopefully their contemporary nature would draw them in to enjoying reading at an appropriate level.
It’s often said that there are no real non readers, just people that have not yet found the right book, hopefully these titles will help you solve that conundrum for some of the young people you work with.
This weeks blog has been written by Bev Humphrey, a literacy, school libraries and technology consultant (http://www.bevhumphrey.com/). She is happiest when combining her twin passions for reading and technology and describes herself as a “geeky reader”. Many thanks for your time Bev.
Sian and Bron