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  1. #1

    Default Looking for book recommendations - 9yo reluctant reader

    My son is a reluctant reader who decided at age six he will never be a ‘good reader’.

    He will read if pushed but rarely picks up a book on his own and will only read in short sessions. Lately, he loves being read to so sometimes I will read a few pages and ask him to read the occasional page. For the past year or two, his independent reading has consisted of mostly "Magic Treehouse" books. He enjoys them; partly because he can read them easily. He is 9yo and in 4th grade. This fall he joined a book club and the book they have been reading is "Chasing Vermeer". He enjoyed the book even though it was not an easy read for him. He says when he reads it to himself he doesn’t understand what he is reading so he prefers to read it out loud to me. (Does this mean the book is too difficult for him?) I’ve noticed from the beginning of the book to the end how much his reading has improved. (He read the book slowly…three chapters each week.)

    I am thrilled if he reads anything so I never worried about the reading level. But now I wonder if slightly more difficult books would be the best way to improve his reading.

    Recommendations for books he can read alone or out loud to me w/b appreciated. I do not want the book so difficult that he will give up…but more challenge than "Magic Treehouse" w/b nice. Friends have suggested "How to Train a Dragon" or "Harry Potter" but he has no interest and will not read them. I have stacks of books from the library, book mooch, etc. but he doesn't want to read most of them.

    Some of his favorite books over the years (to give you an idea of his interest):
    In 1st grade he loved all the "Frog and Toad" books and anything written by Arnold Lobel.
    In 3rd grade he loved the "Prairie Skies" series by Deborah Hopkinson. He also really liked "The Chalk Box Kid."
    Recently he really loved "The Cricket in Times Square" – I read it to him but now I think I s/h had him read some of it.

    He is very sensitive (even books like "The Cricket in Times Square" can end up with tears) so I would not want a book that is too troubling.

    TIA


    p.s. My daughter, also age 9, loves to read. Suggestions for her are also welcome. She likes different books than my son. She likes Roald Dahl books. (Am I the only person who doesn’t care for his books?) She likes anything about animals - "Puppy Place", "Kitty Corner", etc. She is reading "Hoot" now for book club and just finished "The People of Pineapple Place", also for book club. She will not read out loud, and often has four books going at once, she seems to like just about anything.
    Last edited by dbsam; 11-15-2013 at 01:44 AM.

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  3. #2

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    After Magic Tree House, my kids moved to other series with short books like "Moongobble and Me" by Bruce Coville, "Absolutely Lucy" by Ilene Cooper, "Catwings" by Ursula K. LeGuin, and the shorter books by Dahl and Dick King-Smith. My son also loves graphic novels and comics.

    My animal-lovin' daughter (who reads Puppy Place and Kitty Corner, too) just started reading the Animal Ark books, which are about animals helped by a veterinary hospital-owning family. She also loved listening to Misty of Chincoteague and the sequels, Gentle Ben, Owls in the Family, and Black Beauty.
    Mother of two monkeys...daughter age 10 and son age 11.5.

  4. #3

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    My DS9 is also a very reluctant reader (he's actually quite competent, but is SUPER picky about books and won't read anything other than comics unless forced, most weeks). Here are some series we've tried.

    Geronimo Stilton
    Buddy Files by Butler
    Flat Stanley by Brown

    My daughter also really liked the Andrew Lost (Greenburg) and My Weird School (Gutman) series, but my son refuses to give them a try, probably because his big sister had read them. His pickiness makes me crazy.

    He and I have read 4 of the How to Train Your Dragon books together as read-alouds, over the years. I really like them a lot.

  5. #4

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    Norm Deplume and AddlepatedMonkeyMama,
    Thank you for the suggestions. I am going to go through them today with the kids.
    We're also going to go through our stacks of unread books...maybe a book that did not interest my son in the past will interest him now.

    My son just informed me that there are follow-up books to "The Cricket in Times Square". He wants to read them. He is going to make a list of books, including your suggestions, that he wants to read.
    Last edited by dbsam; 11-15-2013 at 09:48 AM.

  6. #5

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    My 9 year old daughter is a bit of a Michael Morpurgo nut and quite frankly I am too. We saw him doing some story telling and and talking about his work at the Old Vic theatre in Bristol during the summer just after she had read a couple of his books and we were completely taken by him. He writes books for all ages but the ones for younger kids/ less confident readers are not patonising and often deal with very challenging topics.

    Your son might enjoy The Kites are Flying (which is about a young Palestinian boy and his friendship with a western journalist) or The Mozart Question (about Jewish prisoners of was) which are fairly short stories which are accompanied by many beautiful illustrations.

    In the UK we don't tend to assign grade level or reading level so much but Morpurgo's site does sort all his books into Picture books, Younger Fiction or Older Fiction and many of the books have some educational materials available which has been produced for Morpurgo month (this month in celebration of his 70th birthday).
    home edding Hipster (10) & Little Bear (5)

  7. #6

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    There is so much about your post that reminds me of my daughter that I had to respond. She is eight, and in a family of readers, she is the one who has been reluctant. She only likes to read comics or graphic novels, but if I ask her to read a chapter book, she says there are too many words. Eventually I wondered about this -- it seemed like at some point she would want more depth to the things she is reading, but so far it hasn't been happening.

    Long story short, we took her to a developmental optometrist who evaluates for visions problems, and my daughter does have some -- she has something called convergence insufficiency (the eyes don't work together properly when looking at something close, like a book) and may have a tracking disorder where she can't scan lines of text properly (we're still in the evaluation process for this).

    Anyway, I don't know if there is something similar going on with your son, but I wanted to mention the possibility because he sounds so similar to my daughter -- enjoying comics, enjoying being read to, not understanding what he is reading. It might be worth a vision assessment by someone who can look for vision processing issues; it is possible to have these problems even if you have 20/20 vision.

    I thought this article was decent and has a list of symptoms to look for. However, my daughter doesn't show many of the symptoms on the list, possibly because I never force her to do the kind of reading she dislikes. Basically, she only likes to read comics, she has poor handwriting, spelling, and fine motor skills. All of those things made me wonder if something was going on.

    Hidden Vision Problems Can Block Learning

    Tori

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by towhee View Post
    There is so much about your post that reminds me of my daughter that I had to respond. She is eight, and in a family of readers, she is the one who has been reluctant. She only likes to read comics or graphic novels, but if I ask her to read a chapter book, she says there are too many words. Eventually I wondered about this -- it seemed like at some point she would want more depth to the things she is reading, but so far it hasn't been happening.

    Long story short, we took her to a developmental optometrist who evaluates for visions problems, and my daughter does have some -- she has something called convergence insufficiency (the eyes don't work together properly when looking at something close, like a book) and may have a tracking disorder where she can't scan lines of text properly (we're still in the evaluation process for this).

    Anyway, I don't know if there is something similar going on with your son, but I wanted to mention the possibility because he sounds so similar to my daughter -- enjoying comics, enjoying being read to, not understanding what he is reading. It might be worth a vision assessment by someone who can look for vision processing issues; it is possible to have these problems even if you have 20/20 vision.

    I thought this article was decent and has a list of symptoms to look for. However, my daughter doesn't show many of the symptoms on the list, possibly because I never force her to do the kind of reading she dislikes. Basically, she only likes to read comics, she has poor handwriting, spelling, and fine motor skills. All of those things made me wonder if something was going on.

    Hidden Vision Problems Can Block Learning

    Tori
    Thank you!
    Actually, I have been considering taking him to see someone about possible vision issues. He's seen an ophthalmologist since he was two and he no longer wears glasses. My sister suggested a doctor who does vision therapy. My son does not like comic books. However, he seems to have difficulty tracking (does better if he puts something under the line he is reading) and he used to turn the book really sideways when he read (he no longer does this). Our eye doctor said both of these issues typically go away in time and they have improved. I looked at the list in the article you linked...he doesn't have many of the symptoms. He is a poor speller (but so is my husband so that might be genetic!) and he sometimes skips words on the page. Often he just says a different word that starts with the same letter. I wasn't sure if he was just rushing through the reading. When he reads a book, he can discuss it in detail after reading, so I do not think he has comprehension issues - at least with simpler books like Magic Treehouse. "Chasing Vermeer" is the first book he has mentioned he doesn't understand what he has read if he doesn't read out loud. It is probably the most advanced book he's read himself.

    I have been considering an eval for vision therapy for two years...but then see so much improvement I decide not to have him evaluated. Our eye doctor is very well respected and he does not think the vision therapy is needed. The doctor who does the vision therapy is very expensive (~$7k) and some people think it works wonders (like my sister) and others felt it was a scam. I should schedule the evaluation anyway just for peace of mind. I feel like a bit of a looser not scheduling it sooner, but I have two kids with health issues and sometimes I do not want to know if there is something else that needs addressing, especially when I see improvement and can convince myself all is fine :>( Plus, I do not want him to think there is something else 'wrong' with him. He has had so many doctor appointments and therapies over the years. He is doing so well right now and is much happier.


    p.s. Much of his negativity about reading was caused when he was 6. His first grade teacher told him (in front of the class) the second week of school that he was not fluent and he was the worst reader in the class. She told me she was trying to motivate him. She decided in October that he would not be able to get his Dibels scores up to level 'I' by the end of the year and would need to be held back. By spring he went from level 'A' to the required level 'I' on the testing and he was quite proud of himself, but she told him he was a 'weak I'. - grrrrrr
    I probably made the situation worse by never pushing him to read more.

    Gosh...once again I type a book-length response. Sorry for the rambling.

  9. #8

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    Jen Law,
    Thank you for the suggestions.
    I've visited the Morpurgo site; there are books that will definitely interest my children.
    Last edited by dbsam; 11-15-2013 at 02:23 PM.

  10. #9

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    What an awful "teacher"!! I'm so mad for you about that! Some people really have no idea how much influence they have. My son would have the same complex if he'd heard something like that. Grr.

    Moving on...after MTH, my son read books like the Time Warp Trio series, which is still quite simple but whose characters are closer to your son's age. They are quite silly and adventurous, and also history based like MTH so it might make for an easy transition.

    Frannie K Stein, Stink, and Araminta Spookie (all different series) were also big hits at that level. Nothing objectionable in them for a sensitive kid, I don't think.

    Perhaps just a bit more difficult: Measle and the Doompit if you can find it was a huge hit (it's British; we found it because at the time we lived in Canada, but it's worth searching for). Also, how about Bunnicula? And The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is just fabulous, unless the idea of 3 orphaned kids is too much for him.

    Series books are so good at the level; they give enough structure to be predictable which I think can be really helpful.

    HTH!
    Mama to one son (12)

  11. #10

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    Hockeymom,
    Thanks for the book recs and the commiseration regarding the first grade teacher.
    My children read Bunnicula a couple of years ago (actually I think my daughter read it to my son) and they enjoyed it. He hasn't read the other books you've suggested.

    Last year he liked reading the Boxcar children series which was about orphaned kids; The Series of Unfortunate Events s/b fine.
    thx

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Looking for book recommendations - 9yo reluctant reader