5 Enthralling Middle Grade Books for Reluctant Readers

Some kids can’t get their noses out of a book, and some kids need a little more encouragement to crack one open. But if you can put a compelling book in their hands, like the five middle grade reads in this list, you may be pleasantly surprised by how easily even the most reluctant reader can find themselves absorbed in a really great book. (And let’s be real, some awesome illustrations help too!)

Restart, by Gordon Korman
Bestselling author Gordon Korman has been getting reluctant readers reading ever since he published his first book, This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall, at only 14 years old. His latest book, Restart, tackles a more serious subject than his others, but is still just as compelling. Chase Ambrose falls off his roof and loses his memory, and has to learn who he is all over again. It might not be who he expected, and readers, even the reluctant ones, will have a hard time putting this down before they find the answer.

The Kindness Club: Designed By Lucy, by Courtney Sheinmel
Fashion forward Lucy and her fifth grade pals Chloe and Theo formed a club to test the effect of kindness on friends and family—and the results not only changed the lives of those around them, but theirs as well. Now they want to do a kindness project for a classmate whose mother recently died—but as the members of the kindness club know, things don’t always go as planned. This relatable cast of characters with a lot of heart makes this an excellent pick for reluctant readers, who may be inspired to try out some of Lucy’s kindness tips in their own lives. My personal fave—leaving compliment cards for family members to find.

Middle School Mayhem (Misadventures of Max Crumbly Series #2), by Rachel Renee Russell
Fans of Dork Diaries are sure to love this new series starring underdog hero Max Crumbly! Middle School isn’t for the faint of heart, but this book takes it to a whole new level starting with the line: “I knew middle school was going to be challenging, but I never expected to end up DEAD in the computer lab, wearing a SUPERHERO COSTUME, with four slices of PIZZA stuck to my BUTT!” How could you not keep reading?!

Double Down (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #11), by Jeff Kinney
What list of addictive MG titles could leave off the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series? Devoured by both reluctant and avid readers alike, these hilarious books about America’s most beloved wimpy kid are like candy (but with fewer cavities!). In this edition Greg’s mom wants him to turn off the television and put down the video games and use his brain (ugh, moms!) so Greg decides to make a scary movie, Night of the Night Crawlers! If you’ve read any of the other Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, then you probably suspect that things may not go exactly as Greg plans…

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, by Meg Cabot
One creative way to get reluctant readers engaged is to take a movie they love (like The Princess Diaries!) and introduce a book version too. In this spin-off, a painfully average girl named Olivia who goes to Cranbrook Middle School in New Jersey discovers that her father is not so average after all…in fact he’s royalty! This is also written in a fun diary format with cute illustrations which makes reading extra fun and engaging.

What books do your reluctant readers love?

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