Book List for reluctant readers aged 7+ (7-9)

Children develop reading skills at different speeds. There are two key things to remember:

-It’s never too late to help your child become more fluent.

-You shouldn’t feel your child is behind compared to other children. Not all children get the reading bug at the same time, but if you persevere most will get it.

Why reading is so important – Why reluctant readers will fall behind unless they have help

Reading is important on many levels but at this age the three most important benefits are:

-Children who read develop a far wider vocabulary than those who don’t. When children come to take important tests to move to the next stage of their education (e.g. an 11 Plus Exam) those with a wider vocabulary will do much better.

-Children develop much better comprehension skills through reading. They read more quickly and more accurately and their wider vocabulary enables greater understanding. Clearly this helps with any comprehension test (such as those found in every 11 Plus exam in the country), but equally readers will not have the comprehension difficulties as others in subjects which also require these skills (as an example many Maths questions use quite complicated worded questions that reluctant readers will find more difficult than those who have read fluently for a prolonged period).

-Finally readers will have much better core English skills than those who do not read, their spelling for example will be much better.

In our view reading is the most important skill a child can pick up, the better they are at, the more frequently they read, the better they will do overall in school. There’s an old saying- “Those who read, succeed.” – It’s true.

Below you will find a list of books we have selected for reluctant readers aged 7+ (7-9)

These books have been selected to respond to the key issues reluctant readers have. We have to find a way of helping the reading bug to become embedded in reluctant readers. Sometimes children still want visual stimulation (pictures), others find humour more interesting, some are more switched on by non-fiction and then others need more gender focussed material (more overt girls’ stories or more overt boys’ stories). Hopefully we have included a good mix of these sorts of books within the list and we hope you find something to help you there.

Remember that with reluctant readers you need to overtly give them some choice, let them choose the books that they think may inspire them. Equally don’t let money get in the way of trying options until you succeed, the local library will be of great help if you don’t have the funds to buy lots of books yourself.

Reluctant readers book list aged 7+ (7-9)

50 Football Skills

Some children love all things football. By focussing on a topic they love you can help to unlock a love of reading. If they read this book they may even learn some new skills!

The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs

Comic strip book packed with amusing adventures of the mini-dinosaurs

Jane Goodall: The Researcher who Champions Chimps – Mike Venezia

Non-fiction with illustrations and perfect for reluctant readers who like learning about the real world and animals.

The Elephant Scientist – Caitlin O’Connell and Dana Jackson

An environmental biography for children. Caitlin O’Connel dedicated her life to the study of elephants in the wild and this book tells the story of her discoveries. For some children the mix of a female lead character, animals in the wild and non-fiction can be really helpful in getting over reading reluctance.

Asterix the Gaul – Rene Goscinny

Classic comic series featuring Asterix and Obelix. These books have captured the imagination of generations of children. For some children these are the first books they genuinely read independently for enjoyment.

Tintin – Herge

Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock solve a succession of mysteries in these classic picture books. This is another series which for some children marks their first genuinely independent reading experience.

Horrid Henry – Francesca Simon and Tony Ross

Horrid Henry is a modern day rogue. These books are great to use where children are graduating from comics to books. The stories and humour are very similar and greatly aid the transition away from pictures to text.

The Green Men of Gressingham – Philip Ardagh

In the same vein as Robin Hood. These books have proven to be a great success with reluctant readers. In this book the outlaws turn to kidnapping when a new tax is introduced.

The Red Dragons of Gressingham – Philip Ardagh

Sequel to The Green Men of Gressingham but can be read as a standalone book.

The Legend of Spud Murphy – Eoin Colfer

Fun in the house where five brothers live


The Dancing Bear – Michael Morpugo

A young girl adopts an abandoned bear cub. This continues to be a really popular story, especially for girls and provides an emotional read without straying into the realm of princesses which is sometimes a difficult area to get out of.

The Butterfly Lion – Michael Morpugo

Perhaps the version for boys. Inspiring story of a miserable ten year old and the relationship he builds with a rare white lion.

I Was a Rat- Philip Pullman

For the younger end of the age group. Roger says he used to be a rat, but did he?

Manfish – A story of Jacques Cousteau

The story of the man who invented modern scuba diving and brought the oceans into the home through his enlightening T.V adventures of discovery under the sea. This non-fiction book about Jacques Cousteau is inspirational .

Miss Rumphius – Barbara Cooney

Along the coast of Maine there are hundreds of thousands of lupines which add enormous colour to the area. This is the true  and inspiring story of Alice Rumpius who aspired to live by the sea and do something to make the world a better place. She scattered lupin seeds wherever she went and her legacy lives on.

The Da Finichi Code (Krow Twins) – JD Smith

Great mad-cap book for boys because it has short chapters and lots of action and is amusing.

 The Worst Witch – Jill Murphy

Perhaps the inspiration for Harry Potter- Trainee witch Mildred Hubble embarks on a life at Miss Cackle’s academy for witches.

Weird Street – Margaret Ryan

Weird Street is on Johnny’s paper round and as the title suggests is home to all sorts of strange people and bizarre and scary events. This four book series has proven very popular with both boys and girls , but particularly boys.

School – Kate McMullan

Heavily illustrated book that relates the experiences of Ron Faster as he learns some important life lessons in a most unusual school. Humorous.

The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster

An illustrated book that follows Milo and his dog Tock as they visit strange places when they go through the phantom tollbooth.

Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet is a spy, she makes notes on all her friends at school. The problem is her notebook goes missing and falls into the wrong hands. This amusing book is great for reluctant readers.

Other help for reluctant readers

We always find that readers of all shapes, reluctant or otherwise make extra progress if parents do some paired reading with them as well as asking them to read by themselves. Please do try it, our paired reading guide will show you how. It can have a great effect on reluctant readers, but remember as with all things to do with literacy skills development you will not see progress overnight…. but you will see progress in six months if you stick with it.

Unfortunately we do sometimes find that the balance of screen time vs reading or homework is the cause of some problems. Each family deals with this issue in their own way, but it is worth remembering that if homework or reading is seen as a hurdle that is placed in front of television or other screens then this will always be an uphill battle. Most families do manage to find their own solution but it as well to recognise it and the sooner it is dealt with the easier things will be.