Terrific Picks for Reluctant Middle Grade Readers

It is hard to engage middle grade readers if they are not already somewhat interested in reading. Finding something that is high interest and challenging enough to help them grow as readers, but not frustrating for readers that are reluctant or easily discouraged is incredibly hard. But, thankfully parents, librarians, and teachers have been trying to create book lists for this group, and authors seem to be publishing more and more for them in recent years. Here are some of the books that I have seen hold the attention and keep some of these readers going. This is far, far from an extensive list never mind comprehensive. I am trying to stick to books that are not on every list you might have already read. Do you have more titles to add? Please comment with them to share with other searching folks.

Chapterbook Options:
The Curse of the Bologna Sandwich: Melvin Beederman Superhero by Greg Trine
Meet Melvin Beederman. He's a pretty good superhero, even though it always takes him five or six tries to get launched and flying. His weakness (every superhero has one) is bologna, which makes it hard to go into a deli. Still, Melvin manages to keep the city of Los Angeles free of nasty villains--once he's airborne.

Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost! by Cornelia Funke
Nine-year-old Tom Tomsky can't catch a break: He's a klutz, his sister Lola pretty much hates his guts, and--this is a big "and"--he just found a ghost camping out in his cellar. Lucky for Tom his grandma's best friend just happens to be the world's foremost ghosthunter. Under her expert tutelage, Tom learns the tools of the trade--which just happen to include buckets of graveyard dirt--and soon finds he has to face down not just the ASG (Averagely Spooky Ghost) in the basement but the IRG (Incredibly Revolting Ghost) in town. All while keeping the nettlesome Lola off his trail....

Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff by Jennifer L. Holm
Ginny has ten items on her big to-do list for seventh grade. None of them, however, include accidentally turning her hair pink. Or getting sent to detention for throwing frogs in class. Or losing the lead role in the ballet recital to her ex-best friend. Or the thousand other things that can go wrong between September and June. But it looks like it's shaping up to be that kind of a year! Here's the story of one girl's worst school year ever -- told completely through her stuff.

My Haunted House by Angie Sage
Araminta Spookie lives in a wonderful old haunted house, but her crabby aunt Tabby wants to move. Aunt Tabby is determined to sell their house—Araminta "has" to stop her! With the help of a haunted suit of armor named Sir Horace, a ghost named Edmund, and a lot of imagination, Araminta hatches a plot for an Awful Ambush that is so ghoulish, it just might work!

Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac
Ever since the morning Molly woke up to find that her parents had vanished, her life has become filled with terrible questions. Where have her parents gone? Who is this spooky old man who's taken her to live with him, claiming to be her great-uncle? Why does he never eat, and why does he lock her in her room at night? What are her dreams of the Skeleton Man trying to tell her? There's one thing Molly does know. She needs to find some answers before it's too late.

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka
How did Jon Scieszka get so funny, anyway? Growing up as one of six brothers was a good start, but that was just the beginning. Throw in Catholic school, lots of comic books, lazy summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, TV shows, jokes told at family dinner, and the result is Knucklehead. Part memoir, part scrapbook, this hilarious trip down memory lane provides a unique glimpse into the formation of a creative mind and a free spirit.

Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis
Timmy Failure, CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, perhaps the nation, is about to crack the biggest case of his generation. Told in text and illustrations, this story is great for Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans.

Ungifted by Gordon Korman
When Donovan, the class clown and infamous underachiever, pulls a prank that inadvertently results in him being sent to a school for gifted kids, hilarity ensues.

Graphic Novel Options:
The Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka
This graphic novel series about the superhero-like antics of the school lunch lady is a surefire hit.

Star Wars Jedi Academy series by Jeff Brown
In a galaxy far, far away, young Roan is sent to the Jedi Academy where he studies under Yoda. This graphic chapter book will be a sure-fire hit with Star Wars fans.

To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel
To Dance tells and shows the fullness of her dreams and her rhapsodic life they led to. Part family history, part backstage drama, here is an original, firsthand book about a young dancer's beginnings -- and beyond.

Bone by Jeff Smith
After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert.

Nonfiction Options:
Aliens are Coming: The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast by Meghan McCarthy
It was an ordinary night in October of 1938 until a news bulletin interrupted the dance music on "CBS" radio-aliens were invading the United States!  Aliens Are Coming!" tells the true story of the Halloween radio prank that duped much of the country into believing that Martians had invaded. The book uses excerpts from the actual "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast and includes information about the importance of radios in the 1930s (before the time of televisions and computers) as well as facts about Orson Welles and H. G. Wells, author of the novel on which the broadcast was based on.

The Lego Ideas Book by Daniel Lipkowitz
Featuring all-new LEGO® building projects, tips to supplement and enhance your LEGO creations, inspirational builds, and expert advice from LEGO Master Builders, The LEGO Ideas Book will keep kids of all ages creating for hours.

Weird But True series by National Geographic Kids
These uniquely sized books contain weird but true facts that take up a page or less and they are accompanied by great colorful photographs and writing that is catchy, making this a great hi-lo series.

The Visual Dictionary of Star Wars, Episodes IV, V, & VI: The Ultimate Guide to Star Wars Characters and Creatures by David West Reynolds and Alexander Ivanov
Any of the Visual Dictionary books will capture the attention of the readers interested in the subject matter. there are books on just about everything with a multitude of pictures and great detail.
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