A Special Educator’s Guide: Top Ten Books to Interest Your Dormant Middle School Reader by Suzanne Tiffany-Salogub
How can we awaken a dormant reader? They need to be presented with engaging and accessible texts. Always! All the time! We need to get our students reading books that are an appropriate challenge. The problem is our students or children who find reading difficult, also are conflicted with the idea that they are reading a book that looks “babyish” or the topic simply does not interest them.
Here is a list of high interest books that grasp the attention of the middle school student.
Twice Told Tales Series by Olivia Snowe
This series from Capstone Publishing takes the most beloved classics and brings them into the 21st-century. Olivia Snowe uses the familiar storylines and makes it relatable in the eyes of the modern middle school student. Snow White meets a NYC alley? It is sure to grab your students’ interest!
Black and White by Paul Volponi
With the main characters at a high school age, and the reoccurring themes of race and friendship, this novel attracts the middle school student. In my class it has mostly grabbed the attention of the boy who may find reading difficult, but can relate to the social struggles of the main characters.
The End of the Line by Gary Crew
A short suspenseful read that is labeled as Fantasy Fiction. At about 80 pages, this page-turner can be just the quick confidence boost your child or student needs to feel the accomplishment of finishing a book they started. This novel has grabbed the attention of both boys and girls alike in my class.
Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard
This novel brings the every day struggle of trying to “fit in” to life. The females in my class have enjoyed this novel due to its themes of friendship and cultural identity. Readers are able to make the text-to-self connections necessary to keep them turning to the next page!
The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur
This is a collection of poetry from the late artist. Writing is how Tupac communicated his emotions: feelings of love and struggle. He is honest and taps into the hearts and minds of my students who face their own personal struggles each day. This may be challenging for some, but many poems have simple lines and relatable topics.
Lotus Lane Collection by Kyla May
This series grabs the attention of the girls in my classroom. It shares the stories of Coco, Kiki, Mika and Lulu, who are a group of friends that start a club together. There is light drama with the themes of friendship and their love of fashion. The diary style can introduce students to point of view. For the “girly-girl” this is a fun series to pull them in!
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: Authorized Adaptation by Ray Bradbury, Illustrated by Tim Hamilton
Tim Hamilton brought this classic dystopian novel into the hands of my students who may have never been able to experience it otherwise. This graphic novel adapted from Ray Bradbury’s classic, captures the interest of my students. The student’s comprehension of this novel, lends to easy supplementation of related articles and hearty class discussions.
Simpsons Comics by Matt Groening
Oldie, but a goodie! These comic books’ diverse range of topics has a high interest level, but is accessible to students who may have difficulties in reading. With comedic content and mature allusions, students will thoroughly enjoy reading this series!
Felita by Nicholasa Mohr
Felita displays the mature themes of prejudice and tolerance that help make the novel relatable to older students. The novel speaks to the experiences of a Puerto Rican family struggling to give their children a better life. These real life struggles are ones that many students can relate to and help maintain engagement for the reader.
Lush by Natasha Friend
Drama! Drama! Drama! The main character of this young adult novel struggles with everyday middle school life. Unfortunately, the struggle is magnified with her family issues, and father’s drinking problem. These mature themes capture the interests of a middle school reader, the exact type of interest to keep them turning to the next page!
Suzanne Tiffany-Salogub is a Special Education teacher in New York City. She is an avid reader and is always on the journey to match her students with books they love.
I bought The Rose That Grew From Concrete for my 8th grade son, so many years ago. It was a book he really needed at that time. Perfect choice for this list. Thanks for including it.
Thanks for this great list! I work with disengaged readers at the middle school level, and you have MANY new-to-me books on here! But I can second that Lush and The Rose That Grew From Concrete are very popular.
I have bought at least 10 copies of The Rose That Grew From Concrete for my library. They always disappear. Kids really connect with this book and decide they need to own it!
I have the same problem in my classroom! 🙂 The student’s love this book! I am happy you enjoyed reading this list!
The Rose That Grew From Concrete sounds like a great book to read. Never heard of it until now, thanks for the review.
I am the author of Nowhere to Run, a Kirkus “Teen Book of the Year” for 2013 and a YALSA “Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers”. At 111 pages, NTR is short and a page turner that has proved popular with Special Ed readers. In setting and topic, it is similar to Paul Volponi’s Black and White. If you are interested in a copy, please tell me where to mail it. Also, I live in Brooklyn and do not charge for “subway” author visits!
Please forward to Suzanne Tiffany-Salogub. thank you. Suzanne,
I am the author of Nowhere to Run, a Kirkus “Teen Book of the Year” for 2013 and a YALSA “Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers”. At 111 pages, NTR is short and a page turner that has proved popular with Special Ed readers. In setting and topic, it is similar to Paul Volponi’s Black and White. If you are interested in a copy, please tell me where to mail it. Also, I live in Brooklyn and do not charge for “subway” author visits! Best,Claire Griffinclairejgriffin.com
Hi Claire! Thank you so much for your offer! I went onto your website and contacted you there. I sent you our school address. My students would LOVE a copy of your book in our classroom library!