Age 9-12 yrs The 15 best Kids Books for reluctant readers - age 9-12.

Published on July 24th, 2014 | by Bright Kids Books


The 15 best Kids Books for reluctant readers – age 9-12

We’ve scoured the book universe to come up with the 15 best Kids Books for reluctant readers, ages 9-12.

If you’ve got a 9-12 year old that’s spending too much time in front of a screen, these are the kids books that will get your reluctant reader eager to turn the page. If your child isn’t enjoying reading, then these books are the one’s that a pretty much sure-fire hits. The beauty of these children’s stories, is that adults and older kids will want to read – and re-read them too! So what are you waiting for? Enjoy!

The 15 best Kids Books for reluctant readers – age 9-12


1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J. K. Rowling

Say you’ve spent the first 10 years of your life sleeping under the stairs of a family who loathes you. Then, in an absurd, magical twist of fate you find yourself surrounded by wizards, a caged snowy owl, a phoenix-feather wand, and jellybeans that come in every flavor, including strawberry, curry, grass, and sardine. Not only that, but you discover that you are a wizard yourself! This is exactly what happens to young Harry Potter in J.K. Rowling’s enchanting, funny debut novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Granted, you’d have to have been living under a rock yourself for the last 15 years not to have heard of J. K. Rowling’s uber successful Harry Potter series, but it would be remiss of us not to include this book near the top of any list of books for reluctant readers. After all, it pretty much started the the reading craze for a generation!


2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis

Four adventurous siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie – step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change… and a great sacrifice.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia – this timeless classic has been motivating reluctant readers for nearly 60 years.


3. Charlotte’s Web
by E.B. White

E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that you and your kids will simply adore. This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur – and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of their own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be quite a pig. But be forewarned, you may need a box of tissues within close reach. Definitely one of the finest classic kids books and sure to be a hit with reluctant readers.


4. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiller
by E. L. Konigsburg

After reading this book, you will never visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or any wonderful, old cavern of a museum) without sneaking into the bathrooms to look for Claudia and her brother Jamie. They’re standing on the toilets, still, hiding until the museum closes and their adventure begins. Such is the impact of timeless novels . . . they never leave us. E. L. Konigsburg won the 1967 Newbery Medal for this tale of how Claudia and her brother run away to the museum in order to teach their parents a lesson. Little do they know that mystery awaits! One of the classic modern kids books with strong female characters – and an antidote for any reluctant readers in your household.


5. Harriet the Spy
by Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together? A genuine modern classic kids book, poignant, well written and a magnet for reluctant readers.


6. Millions
by Frank Cottrell Boyce

It was a one-in-a-million chance. A bag crammed with cash comes tumbling out of the air and lands right at Damian’s feet. Suddenly the Cunningham brothers are rich. Very rich. They can buy anything they want. There’s just one problem – they have only seventeen days to spend all the money before it becomes worthless. And the crooks who stole the cash in the first place are closing in – fast.

A funny, brilliantly clever, fast-paced and utterly thrilling debut novel that is, quite simply, unforgettable. Perfect for reluctant readers.


7. The Year of Billy Miller
by Kevin Henkes

When Billy Miller has a mishap at the statue of the Jolly Green Giant at the end of summer vacation, he ends up with a big lump on his head. What a way to start second grade, with a lump on your head! As the year goes by, though, Billy figures out how to navigate elementary school, how to appreciate his little sister, and how to be a more grown up and responsible member of the family and a help to his busy working mom and stay-at-home dad. Newbery Honor author and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes delivers a short, satisfying, laugh-out-loud-funny school and family story that features a diorama homework assignment, a school poetry slam, cancelled sleepovers, and epic sibling temper tantrums. This is a perfect short novel for reluctant readers aged 9-12.


8. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format — a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell. And while the plot isn’t always as succinct as it could be, the comic-style graphics are perfect for appealing to reluctant readers.


9. The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate

Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated novel is told from the point-of-view of Ivan himself. Having spent 27 years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes. In the tradition of timeless stories such as Charlotte’s Web, Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope. Truly one of the great top reads for reluctant readers.


10. The 26-Story Treehouse
by Andy Griffiths (Author) and Terry Denton (Illustrator)

Andy and Terry live in a 26-story treehouse (It used to be 13 stories, but they’ve expanded). It has a bumper car rink, a skate ramp, an antigravity chamber, an ice cream parlor with 78 flavors, and the Maze of Doom – a maze so complicated that nobody who has gone in has ever come out again.

Similar in design to Jeff Kinney’s Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series, these 13 wacky, interconnected stories integrate print and graphic elements, with comic-book-style panels, word balloons, and text blocks, which blend together seamlessly. Different font styles help distinguish the storytelling sections from the main action. The conversational, matter-of-fact narration is a delightful contrast to the off-the-wall story line. Wildly humorous without being smart-alecky or sarcastic, this is a great choice for middle-grade readers – and especially brilliant for reluctant readers.


11. Matilda
by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. (“The”) Trunchbull – a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

However, the story of Matilda is far from predictable – the big surprise comes when Matilda discovers a new, mysterious facet of her mental dexterity. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings. Just perfect for reluctant readers.


12. The Princess Bride
by William Goldman

The first thing you need to know about this book is that it is very, very funny. And so is the movie. The author, William Goldman, is a legend in the world of screenwriting – known for his clever, crisp dialogue and engrossing narrative. Which is possibly why the screen adaption is so entertaining. This modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about; “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.” And of course, true love. Thrilling AND timeless. One of the funniest  books you’ll ever come across. And an original fairy tale that is sure to delight reluctant readers (and parents too!).


13. Wonder
by R. J. Palacio

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

Wonder is a rare gem of a novel – beautifully written and populated by characters who linger in your memory and heart. August Pullman is a 10-year-old boy who likes Star Wars and Xbox, ordinary except for his jarring facial anomalies. Home-schooled all his life, August heads to public school for fifth grade and he is not the only one changed by the experience – something we learn about first-hand through the narratives of those who orbit his world. August’s internal dialogue and interactions with students and family ring true, and though remarkably courageous he comes across as a sweet, funny boy who wants the same things others want: friendship, understanding, and the freedom to be himself. One of the best children’s books dealing with adversity that we’ve come across – and something special and unique to delight reluctant readers.


14. Out of my mind
by Sharon Draper

Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school — but no one knows it. Most people – her teachers and doctors included – don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she’s determined to let everyone know it… somehow. Reminiscent of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, readers will come to know a brilliant mind and a brave spirit who will change forever how they look at anyone with a disability. Sharon Draper has written one of the more uplifting children’s books and one that is sure to have reluctant readers buried deep in these pages.


15. When Did You See Her Last?” (All the wrong questions)
by Lemony Snicket

In the fading town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea, young apprentice Lemony Snicket has a new case to solve when he and his chaperone are hired to find a missing girl. Is the girl a runaway? Or was she kidnapped? Was she seen last at the grocery store? Or could she have stopped at the diner? Is it really any of your business? These are All The Wrong Questions. Lemony Snicket has created a wonderful little book that is sure to be embraced by reluctant readers.

Breaking news. Here’s another great kids book for reluctant readers - One of our Facebook community members suggested we should add The Hobbit. We happen to agree.


16. The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. Though The Hobbit is lighter in tone than the trilogy that follows, it has, like Bilbo Baggins himself, unexpected iron at its core. Don’t be fooled by its fairy-tale prose; this is very much a story for adults, though older children will enjoy it, too. By the time Bilbo returns to his comfortable hobbit-hole, he is a different person (hobbit) altogether – well primed for the bigger adventures to come – and so is the reader. The Hobbit has stood the test of time and is definitely one of the classic books reluctant readers.

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- thinking kids can change the world.

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