Children are fascinated by the world around them. They love learning about REAL, TRUE facts. Tell them the color of a frog’s spit. Fascinated. Tell them about the crazy destruction caused by some hurricane. Fascinated. That’s why when reluctant readers show up in my classroom, I turn to nonfiction first.
These days, nonfiction doesn’t mean reading an encyclopedia. There are a variety of books and magazines that cover a vast range of topics that may pique their curiosity. The writing style, voice, and images are inviting, conversational, thrilling, and addictive. Where to start? Here are four ideas:
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Start with a nonfiction series
Reluctant readers love nonfiction because they can choose sections of the book that seem more interesting and exciting to them. In fact, more often than not, sections can be read out of order! Many children like this control over their reading and find the whole process less stressful. They can read at their own pace, whim, interest with no pressure to have to “finish the book.” That’s why a series is great to have on hand. Consider the following:
National Geographic Kids: Weird But True Series
This series is written about so many different topics–Weird But True facts about animals, history, criminals, the human body, and so much more. Each page contains trivia that will make readers gasp, laugh, wonder, and learn. There are tons of graphics and images that keep children engaged as well. Most importantly, kids love passing these weird facts along to their friends! C’mon, we’ve all heard those kids on the playground, “Hey, wanna hear something crazy and it’s true?!”
National Geographic for Kids: Big Book of Why Series
For the younger reader who LOVES to ask “Why?” Why is the sky blue? Why are cookies crispy? Let them find the answers to all their crazy questions in this book series!
Who Would Win Series: by Jerry Pallotta
Best. Series. Ever. What would happen if … a polar bear and a grizzly bear met each other? … a whale and a giant squid met each other? … a falcon and a hawk met each other? WHO WOULD WIN?
Readers will learn about each species: their bodies, abilities, environments, strengths, weaknesses, and then decide, based on that, who would win in a meet-up. The books are filled with tons of illustrations, facts, charts, tables, and photos to keep readers engaged.
Scholastic: True or False Series
This series is written in a “question-answer” format. Each book is specific to a certain topic. For example, dangerous animals, planets, storms, reptiles, pets, amphibians, etc. The reader will read a fact relating to the topic on the right page. Readers need to decide if the fact is true or false. When they turn the page, the answer is revealed along with more information as to why that fact is true or false.
Reading isn’t limited to books!
Magazine subscriptions are exciting to receive each month in the mail (because, honestly, who gets mail these days?)
Sports Illustrated for Kids
Have a sports fanatic? Why not get a subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids? The magazine is full of current and trending sports news as well as tips for athletes “in training.”
National Geographic for Kids Magazine
This magazine is filled with facts about pretty much everything a child may see and hear in the world around them! Tons of engaging topics and subjects ranging from animals, science, archeology, technology, geography mixed in with jokes, riddles, and even pull out posters!
Science, History, Inventors, Artists – this magazine is geared to answer all the questions your children, ages six to nine years old may have. Check out their website to see a free sample issue!
Think inside the nonfiction box!
There are so many ways to narrow down the scope of nonfiction to topics your students are interested in. Have an aspiring little chef? Get them reading about what they can cook up in the kitchen!
Kid Chef: The Foodie Kids Cookbook
This cookbook teaches students new recipes as well as cooking fundamentals and skills like creating grocery lists, using kitchen tools properly and safely, and more.
Food Network Magazine: The Big Fun Kids Cookbook
Children who love watching the Food Network will LOVE this cookbook! Over 150 recipes that are designed for kids, your chef will be reading immediately. With lively, vibrant pictures, food trivia, and bonus games, this will surely engage your foodie reader.
Engage them with nonfiction graphic novels
Still have a reluctant reader? It’s time to whip out the nonfiction graphic novels. Yeah, some people call them comic books, but they are full of text with engaging photos! Often, nonfiction topics contain hard words and ideas, which can be difficult for readers. However, combined with the engaging “comic book-like” illustrations, readers can learn about true stories they may not have otherwise ever heard about.
There are graphic novels about inventors, historical events, famous movements, iconic leaders, scientific discoveries, and much more!
This book publisher makes a wealth of graphic novels (both fiction and nonfiction) in topics for all of your readers!
What are your favorite ways to engage reluctant readers? Share in the comments below!
For more book recs for reluctant readers, consider choose your own adventure book series!