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Books For Middle School Reluctant Readers

Help your students find books they will enjoy reading with this list of books for middle school reluctant readers.

It can be a challenge to find books for middle school reluctant readers. Before you provide students with book suggestions – strive to find out what is causing their reluctance to read. Some possible reasons could be:

  1. The student struggles with the mechanics of reading.
  2. They read below grade level (mechanics and/or comprehension) and do not want their teachers or peers to know.
  3. They have disliked the previous books they have read. The books were not engaging for them. Even if we as teachers consider a book “classic” not all students will feel the same. It is important to provide students with lots of book options.
  4. They have had negative reading experiences – e.g.  being forced to read, consequences for not reading assigned books, lack of reading choices, etc.

If students are struggling with the mechanics of reading, then seek out the support of your school’s Special Education department. If students can read, but choose not to then try to create positive reading experiences for them.

  1. Try different reading formats: e-books, audiobooks, graphic novels, comics, non-fiction books.
  2. Try suggesting books from these books for middle school reluctant readers list.

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20 Books For Middle School Reluctant Readers

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

When a new girl arrives at Mica High, she becomes the centre of attention. Her school spirit, good looks, and charming personality are a hit with her peers, until one day they turn on her. She becomes hated by her peers for being herself. Stargirl is faced with the decision to remain true to herself or conform to the status quo.

The Baby-Sitter’s Club Series Graphic Novel by Ann M. Martin

5 best friends start up a business called the Babysitters Club. They handle any challenge life throws at them personally or in their business.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Zoey must help out at home while her mom works late and tries to go unnoticed at school until a teacher makes her join the debate team and she starts to see things differently.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

“The City of Ember” is set 200 years in the future in an underground city. For generations there has been an electrical system that sustained the needs of the underground city. It was only created to last for just over two hundred years. Lina and Doon must figure out the clues to save their city before time runs out.

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, 1) by Chris Colfer

Book 1 of 6 follows twins as they travel to a magical world where fairy tale characters are real and they must try to get home.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Set in Paris, The Prince and the Dressmaker follows Prince Sebastian, whose parents are looking for a bride for him, and his best friend Frances – one of the few people who knows Sebastian’s secret. She is a dressmaker and creates the most amazing dresses for Sebastian to wear. But can she keep his secret – and her talent – forever?

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

When Coyote hears that the park in her old neighborhood is going to be torn down, she knows she must get her dad to drive across the country to save the memory box she buried there with her late mom and sisters. But she has to do it without him realizing her plan. Along the way they meet a diverse array of people, who Coyote realizes she can call friends.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Jessica loses her leg in a car accident and is told she won’t run again. As she is getting on with her life she becomes friends with a girl she once ignored.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

Lolly Rachpaul’s brother has just died – from a gang-related shooting, and Lolly and his mother are still reeling from the shock. When his mother’s girlfriend gifts him two bags of Legos, Lolly’s life will forever change.


Track Series by Jason Reynolds

This collection of four books follow four protagonists – Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu (which the books are also named) – as they compete on an elite track team, while also dealing with drama and life.

Warriors Series by Erin Hunter

The Warriors Series follows clans of feral cats who clash with each other, and their adventures and experiences. This fantasy series has several spin-offs, all of which have complex plotlines and character development.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Luke is a “shadow child” – he is not allowed to exist. It is outlawed by the Population Police to have this many children. He must stay hidden in his house or risk being exposed. One day he meets a girl who also lives in the shadows. Together they decide to take a risk which could have dangerous consequences.

Box of Shocks by Chris McMahen

Oliver loves to do crazy things, like jump off bridges and run from killer dogs. But Oliver’s parents don’t know about his dangerous stunts, so he fills a box with souvenirs, hoping they won’t find it.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie loves drama but doesn’t sing. So she’s the set designer for the drama department. She is determined to produce a Broadway set on a school budget all while dealing with middle school drama.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza and her family live a very comfortable life in Mexico until she and her mother are forced to run to California and live in a camp for Mexican farm workers

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally Nickerson is a fabulous and relatable protagonist that middle school students will enjoy getting to know. As soon as the reader opens the book they are thrown into the middle of Ally’s story and her trouble at school. She immediately gets sent to the principal’s office and we get a glimpse into Ally’s academic struggles. Ally’s school difficulties throughout the novel help the reader build empathy towards Ally.

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Raina experiences a sore stomach that won’t go away. Because her mom has it too, everyone thinks it’s just a bug. But when Raina gets an upset stomach every time she thinks about school, relationships, and anything else upsetting, she realizes there’s more to it.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

May and her best friend Libby create the coolest comic ever: Princess X. But after Libby dies in a car accident, May sees a Princess X sticker, then graffiti, and patches. Does her best friend live?

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Aven Green loves to make up wild stories about how she lost her arms, not that she was born without them. Her parents move them to Arizona to run an old western theme park and Aven knows she will have to keep answering the question over and over again. She isn’t looking forward to her new life in Arizona, but ends up meeting some friends with their own disabilities and together they solve a mystery.

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

Penelope Torres is starting middle school and knows she has to follow the social rules in order to not get picked on. Unfortunately, she gets noticed by the mean kids the first day of school. She tries to fit in but realizes she has to break the rules in order to survive!

I hope your students enjoy these books for middle school reluctant readers.

For more great middle school books, check out this blog post – Best Middle School Book Recommendations. Also, check out some fantastic YA books in this blog post – High School Book Recommendations.

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