Top Ten Authors Recommended for Hesitant Young Readers by Tiffiny Spire
During the twelve years I spent teaching elementary school, I made it a personal goal to help each of my students discover the joy of reading. I always had a few authors up my sleeve to tempt those hesitant readers. With the help of librarians and fellow teachers, I’ve added more to my list. In no particular order, here are my top ten authors recommended for hesitant elementary school readers.
- Roald Dahl has written several award-winning books. Many of his books pit a young underdog character against an adult arch nemesis (parent, principal, etc…) where the main character overcomes obstacles using extraordinary and humorous antics. Many people are familiar with his works that have been turned into film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach. While those are great books for kids, I usually introduce hesitant readers to some of Dahl’s other books such as The Twits, Esio Trot, and George’s Marvelous Medicine, because they are short, fast-paced, and hilarious – making them great candidates for getting hesitant readers hooked on an author. (recommended for ages 8-12)
- Judy Blume’s books have stuck around in schools and libraries for a reason. Her characters and the real-life situations in which they find themselves are completely relatable to boys and girls alike. I’ve never met a student who has read/heard Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and didn’t want to read the next book in the series to see what other hilarious predicaments Fudge gets himself into. (recommended for ages 6-11)
- Jon Sciescka has mastered the fractured fairy tale. Hesitant readers are sure to give Sciescka’s books a second glance simply due to their zany illustrations. Once they crack open one of the fractured fairytale picture books (such as The Real Story of the Three Little Pigs or The Stinky Cheese Man), they’ll see that this is no ordinary book. Sciescka has irreverently turned the world of picture books on its head, and for hesitant readers, that makes them all the more worth reading. Young readers will also be familiar with his chapter book series, The Time Warp Trio, as it is also an animated television series. (recommended for ages 4-9)
- Mary Pope Osborne makes it into this top ten list thanks to her popular series, Magic Treehouse. This historical fantasy series of over 50 books has been translated into over 30 languages. Osborne’s series is ideal for hesitant elementary readers because the books are short and action packed. They follow a predictable pattern with the same characters over many books. This takes the guesswork out of choosing a new book to read which is sometimes too overwhelming for young readers. The series is also popular with teachers and parents because it is educational and now comes with “fact-checker” companion books. (recommended for ages 5-8)
- Andrew Clements is an award-winning author who is popular with students and teachers of both elementary and middle school. The majority of his books (such as Frindle, No Talking, and The School Story) are realistic fiction and take place in a school setting. The arch nemesis of his books is usually someone found in the school (bully, principal, janitor, etc…) This makes his stories easy for elementary and middle grade students to relate to. (recommended for ages 8-12)
- Mo Willems is a talented artist who has added a new character to the picture book realm sure to be a classic. His pigeon from Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus has captured the love and attention of young kids everywhere. The humorous and light-hearted stories draw in even the most hesitant early readers. (recommended for ages 3-6)
- Beverly Cleary is another classic author to make it onto this list thanks to her consistently enjoyable books such as the Ramona series and the Ralph Mouse books. The light-hearted story lines with likable characters in these easy to read books draw in even the most hesitant readers time and again. She offers book series for both boys and girls. (recommended for ages 7-11)
- Jarrett J. Krosoczka is an award-winning author and illustrator who is a master of graphic novels. His most popular series, Lunch Lady, features an unlikely heroine who uses kitchen gadget weaponry to procure justice. These fast-paced comedic books full of striking pictures are easy to read and full of action making them a winner with hesitant readers. (recommended for ages 8-12)
- Nancy McArthur makes it on my list because her book, The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks helped my own sister see that reading could be fun. She read it at the request of a local librarian after my parents had tried several other books, and for once, she enjoyed reading a book. My sister, age 8 at the time, then proceeded to plow through the other eight hilarious books in this series. (recommended for ages 8-11)
- Gary Paulsen must be included on any list of authors recommended for hesitant readers. His books have a more serious tone to them and require the main character to perform harrowing acts in order to survive. This Newbery Honor winning author has many books to offer readers, but most noteworthy is his five-part Brian’s Saga that begins with Hatchet, a life changing book for many. Because it involves intense action it draws in even the most hesitant readers. (recommended for ages 10 and up)
That is my tried and true list of authors I recommend to hesitant young readers. If a child you know is struggling with reading, try something from one of the authors mentioned above (choose carefully from among their works), and I hope you will see that child discover the joy of reading.
Tiffiny Spire was an elementary school teacher for twelve years before becoming a mom. She now is a family travel writer and also blogs at www.sparkandpook.com about children’s books, family travel tips, and learn-thru-play ideas. You can connect with her on Twitter at @Tiffiny223.