Weekend Links – Reluctant/Resistant Readers, Book recommendations and more

I woke up the other day thinking about our homeschool plans for next year. Of the two students I’m still homeschooling, one is a reluctant reader and one is resistant.

Since I love books and reading, it makes me a little sad that I haven’t been able to instill that same love in my kids. So, I started thinking about how to renew my efforts. Learning to read was a bit of a chore for both of them, so it stands to reason that reading for pleasure might not be high on their list.

They do like being read to. I read to our kids, even when they are in middle school and high school. Yes, they read to themselves too, but we love a good read-aloud. I love this article about the benefits of reading to older kids.  But I also want them to grow up to be readers.  Maybe not nose-in-a-book-all-the-time type readers, but hopefully, several books in a year.

That led me to google something like “making readers out of kids who hate to read”.  And that led me to several interesting articles.  

First, on Dot Complicated I found a post on using audio books for kids who hate reading.  That seems like an obvious idea, but it’s one I’ve never pursued.

That led me to learn more about Immersion Reading on Audible and Kindle.  With Immersion Reading, you can read and listen to a professional narration at the same time.  And the really cool thing is that the words and phrases are highlighted as they are read.  That means that kids can follow along easily with the reading and improve their skills as they go.  It makes it possible for them to read books that are at a higher reading level than what they can handle on their own.

Of course, I had to google to find out if Immersion Reading really helps improve reading skills.  Here are a few things I found:

How the Kindle can help the dyslexic reader.

A mom’s review of using Immersion Reading for her 9 year old son, including a short Q&A with her son.

A story of how a dyslexic woman uses a Kindle to help her with reading.  This doesn’t address the latest technology, but it has some interesting tips.

Thoughts on Immersion Reading from The Well Trained Mind Forums.

Later, I found this post on book recommendations for tweens on The Art of Simple.

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There are some excellent book choices there.  I decided to start with Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.  I started reading the book myself and it is fantastic!  I knew it would hook the kids.  It certainly hooked me.  This is a book kids will enjoy and adults will too.  It’s an action packed, page turning adventure and much more too.

We loaded the Kindle version, along with the Audible recording and the kids started reading yesterday.  So far, I’d say we have success.  Only my younger child is using the narration, but both kids are enjoying the book and moving forward willingly.

My goal for this summer is to provide great stories for them to read so they get a taste of how fun reading can be.  I’d love your book recommendations!  And if you’ve used Immersion Reading for your student, I’d like to know how that has worked out.

Now, I’ve got to get back to my book and find out what happens next to Peter Nimble!


  1. One of my very favorite books is “Voices After Midnight,” by Richard Peck. It follows three siblings as they discover they can visit an earlier time period involving their ancestors. Peck is a Newbery Award-winner for “A Year Down Yonder” in 2000. This book was a sequel to “A Long Way from Chicago,” which I liked even better than “A Year Down Yonder.” I also really enjoyed his “Bel-Air Bambi and the Mall Rats” and his four books featuring Blossom Culp, “The Ghost Belonged to Me,” “Ghosts I Have Been,” “The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp,” and “Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death.”

    For somewhat younger readers (but actually readers of all ages), I recommend the Magic books by Edward Eager. They are (in order of my favorites), “Knight’s Castle,” “Half Magic,” “The Time Garden,” “Magic by the Lake,” “Seven-Day Magic,” “Magic or Not?” and “The Well-Wishers.”

    And. as you’ve previously mentioned, “The Sherwood Ring” is a fantastic book! I also love the only other novel I’m aware of by the same author, “The Perilous Gard” by Elizabeth Marie Pope.

    And my second-favorite two books of all time (right behind “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”): “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There,” by Lewis Carroll.

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our and our children’s favorite books!

    • Thanks for all the recommendations! Many of those are new to me. We actually have “A Year Down Yonder” but I’ve never read it myself. I think that’s a reader for one of the Sonlight cores (as opposed to read-aloud). Maybe my older two have read that one. I’m going to look into the others you mentioned. And I hear you on the lure of tv/video games. One of the things I like about the kindle fire is how easy it is to block everything except the books.

  2. And I feel your pain about your reluctant/resistant readers. Of my four children, the oldest is an avid reader like me; the second likes only non-fiction, and the youngest two are hard to be persuaded to read anything much, given the overwhelming allure of TV and video games!

  3. I teach fifth grade, and one thing I am particularly good at is turning reluctant readers into enthusiastic ones. My biggest suggestion is always to allow kids to pick their own books (from what is appropriate, of course). Choice is incredible motivating!

    Here are some books that my students and I love: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, anything by Sharon Creech but especially Ruby Holler, Walk Two Moons, and Love that Dog. Christopher Paul Curtis’s books are equally parts hilarious and historical; we especially love The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 and Elijah of Buxton. Someone Was Watching by David Patenaude is a great mystery for reluctant readers, as is The Mailbox (though The Mailbox does have some difficult and sad moments). My class loved Rodman Philbrick’s Freak the Mighty and The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (Freak is for more mature readers). Among my fantasy lovers, Brandon Mull’s books (especially Fablehaven) are very popular, as well as the Sisters Grimm, Harry Potter, and Eragon series. The Al Capone series by Gennifer Choldenko are well-loved, and anything by Gary Paulsen is a hit with the boys!

    Let’s see…sports lovers really enjoy Tim Green and Mike Lupica’s books; I particularly like Lupica’s Heat and Miracle on 49th Street. Katherine Paterson’s books, especially Lyddie and Jip, are almost always a hit. Kids who like to be scared absolutely love the Skeleton Creek series. Bonus: these books have videos you watch online throughout the book, so that’s always a lure for reluctant readers. Wonder by RJ Palacio is an incredibly moving story about acceptance and differences. Even my most reluctant readers love this book. I’ll echo the other comment on Richard Peck–his novels are wonderful!

    James Patterson’s series of I, Funny and Middle School are very popular, and the kids crack up over them. Graphic novels are another great way to engage reluctant readers. The most popular ones in our class library this year were Cardboard and the Silver Six. I loved Cardboard, and I’m not a big graphic novel person!

    This is probably the longest comment ever, but I love books and can’t help but give plenty of recommendations!

    • Cindy, thanks so much for all the recommendations! A few I’ve heard of, but most of those are new to me. I’m going to add those to our list! I’m so glad you commented 🙂

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