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Game-Changing Books for Reluctant Readers – Part 2 (Ages 9-11)

Geoff Nixon

By Geoff Nixon

Books That Have Inspired Many New Readers

Ahh, the upper elementary grades, where kids are either really into reading or really not into reading. But don’t fret because research proves that what it takes is just the right engaging, entertaining story to turn a reluctant reader into a passionate and voracious one! We’ve got a list of some you may not have heard before right here.

A lifelong reading habit starts with a desire to read, even if it’s a little exhausting or challenging. If the reward is there, if your child thinks the book is worth the effort, then habits can form.

As we mentioned in our first article on favorite books for 6-8 year olds, several of these books are part of a series. If your child enjoys the book, keep feeding her others in the series.  The idea here is to build a reading routine and to connect reading to pleasure, and a series is a great way to deepen those grooves!

Here are a few books that can get that ball rolling.

game-changing book called hamster princessHarriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess Series) – Ursula Vernon

Available on Amazon here This hilarious twist on Sleeping Beauty involves a feisty hamster who makes the most of life before the curse of pricking her finger on a hamster wheel manifests on her twelfth birthday.
Gorgeous princess Harriet Hamsterbone (you’ll have to trust her, she’s stunning) was brave and intelligent and really loathed the idea of lounging around the palace as royals do.

Nay, she preferred riding around the countryside on her loyal riding quail, Mumfrey, where she could pretend to slay monsters and dragons since her parents wouldn’t allow her to do so for real.

Ratshade, the wicked fairy, laid the curse upon Harriet when she was 12 days old, and when her parents informed her of it, she decided she was obviously invincible for a few more years. So, off she went!

This charming, funny, joyful tale with a spunky heroine will create readers who will cheer for her as they eagerly search for the next story!

tapper twins go to warThe Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other) – Geoff Rodkey

Amazon link here

Children with siblings know that life with another kid isn’t always fun and games, and The Tapper Twins, Claudia and Reese, are no exception!

In this hilarious tale of what it’s like to be in middle school and competing in an all-out prank war with a sibling, the twins are forced to decide if it’s worth the price of trying to destroy each other.

The laugh-out-loud-ness of their antics are sure to engage any reluctant reader with both fun and the ability to reflect on the highs and lows of everyday life.

he voices of the two characters who tell the story are pitch-perfect, with humorous insight and various points of view. It’s a mash-up of family dynamics, history, social media, and gaming, providing a something-for-everyone approach at all times!

when mischief came to townWhen Mischief Came To Town – Katrina Nannestad

Amazon link here

This heartwarming and richly engaging tale is a nod to Pippi Longstocking and Heidi about the magic of mischief.  Inge Maria Jensen is ten years old, and when her mother dies, she’s sent from Copenhagen to live with her grandmother — whom she’s never met before — on a farm.

When she arrives on the tiny island, she discovers that her grandmother is quite stern, the people who live there are pretty strange, and children are expected to be seen and not heard. No matter how hard Inge tries to be good (and brave), she seems to fall into mischief one way or another.

The question is, could a little bit of mischief be a good thing?

It’s a tale of love, humor, and resilience, perfect for engaging any reader into wanting more!

the girls who drank the moonThe Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill

Amazon link here

The list of awards this book has won is quite long, and one page into the story tells you why.

A witch, some swamp monsters, and a “perfectly tiny dragon” live in the forest where the people of the Protectorate leave a baby once a year as a sacrifice in hopes that the witch will be satisfied and not terrorize them. But what they don’t know is that the witch, Xan, is actually kind and loving!

She rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight as they travel. One year, Xan accidentally feeds the baby moonlight instead and fills the child with magic never before seen! Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she names Luna, as her own.

As Luna approaches her teenage years, a man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing Xan! The action comes in with deadly birds, a previously dead volcano, and a guaranteed level of enchantment and suspense that will thrill any reader into wanting more.

It’s a profoundly emotional tale of social complexity, the exorbitant secrets and lies, and wonderful imperfection in its characters.

gus must read book for childrenGuts – Raina Telgemeier

Amazon link here

The praise for Guts is endless and with good reason. The story of Raina both normalizes her struggle with anxiety, the need for therapy, and shows a child developing coping mechanisms in a way that is sure to inspire and reassure readers.

Irresistibly touching and funny, this charming tale of a family and sisters tells a realistic tale of growing up and gathering the courage to face and conquer a young girl’s fears.

Dealing with the usual ups and downs of school, such as wavering friendships, weird food, and classmates who think the year is just one long gross-out competition, Raina discovers that her tummy troubles are more than just a stomach bug.

This graphic memoir is inspired by real people, real therapy, and the real experiences of the author. The story is so relatable, that any reader will find themselves sympathetically giggling through the entire book!


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