Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Books To Encourage Reluctant And Less Confident Readers aged 6-8+

When your child first learns to read it's easy to become excited about all of the books you can share with them, but some children take longer than others to become confident readers. It can easily be a couple of years before you move from books which are mainly illustration with a few words on each page, through to big books with pages entirely full of text.

While one of my younger boys leapt off into the world of books, his younger brother just hasn't had that confidence. I've put together a few ideas for anyone who wants to encourage their children through this stage and build their skills and speed without making reading become a chore.

Magazines and Comics

Children are often used to comic book style before they can read themselves, so it's familiar, but mainly it's not scary. There are no huge lumps of text and pages are full of images. Readers often know the characters and can 'guess' a lot of the words they wouldn't be able to read without working them out.

There are thousands of magazines and comics out there, with something to grab the attention of anyone. Go for familiar characters from shows they enjoy, or topics which interest them. Any reading is a good thing, even if it isn't to your liking. Try something like Adventure Time Magazine for the TV watchers, or Stew for curious kids who like facts. Amazing Magazine is bold and brash (and my 9 year old's favourite). Okido Magazine is great for more crafty, hands on children who like to get stuck into science, For junior voters and thinkers we have The Week Junior, the most honest weekly paper you'll ever read...


Never underestimate annuals. Full of short stories and articles broken up by quizzes and photo pages, they are full of images and short paragraphs of text. Any youngster can pick up an annual and dip in, there is no need to commit to hours of reading, or even 10 minutes. This time of year you can often pick up last Christmas' annuals at real bargain prices - I bought 5 a couple of weeks ago from Amazon for £1 each. 

Just like magazines, there's something for everyone. My youngest actually progressed from reading three letter words to full sentences over a single weekend thanks to the 2016 Guinness Book Of Records Gamer's Edition

Early Readers.

Don't dismiss Early Readers. There are some really good books out there which aren't written for 4 and 5 year olds, but still use easily read language. We reviewed some excellent Early Readers from Orion Books, including plenty of Horrid Henry (which are often available in ALDI at a bargain price). You can find a host of my Early Reader reviews here.

Topic Books

If your child already has an interest then they are likely to be excited by a book before they even open it. They'll want to read it and find out more about what's inside. Job half done. 

A while ago we reviewed some great topic bundles from a company called Miles Kelly. They specialise in fact books and have books on just about anything you can think of. They sent us History and Space book bundles to look at. 

Dinosaurs have been an obsession of all of my boys at some point. The What's So Special About series are great books with a brilliant free website full of activities and information for children - there's even a club to join and they have their very own genuine Palaeontologist. You can see our review of some of Nicky Dee's dinosaur books here and find the What's So Special? website here.

Dinosaurs in 30 Seconds by Sean Callery is especially designed for less confident readers and each fact is presented as a snippet that can be read in 30 seconds. It's perfect for encouraging any child who thinks they won't be able to read a whole book full of tricky words!

Your topic doesn't even have to be real. Star Wars books have been popular in my house for about 18 years. There are story books, fact books, workshop manuals and puzzle books. There are even Young Readers and the stories are okay too!

Bring In Technology

I don't allow screens in the bedroom at night, but that isn't the only time we read books and some of the new AR books are really impressive. We had tons of fun with the Ice Age Collision Course AR book a while ago.


Don't tsk before you try it. Poetry rouses crowds, melts hearts and makes us laugh every Christmas. It's naturally in shorter chunks and the layout looks so much easier for children who aren't confident. My children both really enjoyed Miss Winter's Demise by Paul Minton. A collection of poems that's very funny, a bit gruesome in parts and a good step up from nursery rhymes.

Horrible Books - Horrible Science, Horrible History, Horrible Geography

My eldest was a very reluctant reader, but we discovered he couldn't get enough of the 'Horrible' books and he devoured them. They've been read by all 7 of our children over the years and the facts that children pick up reading them are amazing. Again in a fairly comic book style, with shorter paragraphs of text interspersed with funny cartoon images, they are incredibly easy to read and dip in to, and very reasonably priced. There are always a handful at the side of my 7 year old's bed...

Here are 3 of our favourite fiction books which aren't full of big pages of imposing text;

DogMan Unleashed by Dav Pilkey is a comic book style book which is funny and a bit crazy. One of our favourite authors for many years due to his fantastic Captain Underpants books which you can see a couple of above as they were on my son's bed. From the same post Batman's Guide To Being Cool is indeed, very cool, and incredibly easy to read.

Danny Dingle's Fantastic Finds by Angie Lake is a great book full of illustrations, different fonts and general craziness. A really good story that both of my boys enjoyed and laughed at a lot.

Future Ratboy And The Invasion Of The Nom Noms by Jim Smith is a staggeringly big 240 page book, but it's in comic style again and has pages that just say one word that's really, really big. Loads of fun, completely crazy, but completely accessible to any child - and who wouldn't be proud to finish a huge tome like this one!

Bookshops will usually order books for you if they aren't in stock, you can often buy direct from a publisher's website or an online bookstore such as Boolino. Amazon lists thousands of children's books with many at reduced prices. Don't forget your local library - use it, don't lose it. 

Above all, reading is fun! It can take you anywhere you wish to go and beyond, it can soothe you to sleep and fill a long journey or a day on the beach. It's not a race, nor should it be a fight. Most schools will not mind if your child reads their own book twice as often as the school reading scheme, as long as they are reading. Read what you enjoy and learn to love books...

Huge thanks to all of the publishers, authors and illustrators who have made my children's pathway to becoming readers so incredibly interesting! 


  1. So many great ideas. There is always something that will entice a reluctant reader, it's just finding it xx

    1. Totally. I think we are so lucky that we went to Guinness that day, not only for the experience, but because we found our ideal book! :)

  2. Some really great ideas to try with Henry he has suddenly become reluctant to read so hopefully these ideas will help!

    1. Awww fingers crossed! I think it is very hard to make the transition from just a few words on a page, it's quite a scary prospect until you realise it isn't really 'harder', just 'more' :)


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