Books for kids who hate to read

Is your child missing out on the joys of books? Check out these ideas to kick-start his or her love of reading.

By GreatSchools Staff

Light a love of literature

One of the great pleasures of parenthood is seeing your child’s nose buried in a book. Written stories let kids stretch their imagination in ways that movies and television never could.

But for some kids, the joy of reading doesn’t come easily — and may never come at all without a gentle nudge. Maybe they have a reading disability, find reading too labor-intensive (books are hard; TV is easy!), or just haven't found a book that clicks for them.

If your child is a reluctant reader, don’t give up! There are ways to light a fire under even the most unenthusiastic reader. It could be just a matter of finding the right book or series to ignite that love of reading.

The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr. Seuss Favorites

By Dr. Seuss
Narrated by Billy Crystal, Walter Matthau, Dustin Hoffman, and others
Ages 4 to 8, $20

Dr. Seuss's delicious rhythms and rhymes make for great entertainment coming out of the mouths of well-known actors. Dustin Hoffman reads Horton Hears a Who, Ted Danson narrates The Lorax, and Kelsey Grammer reads The Cat in the Hat, to name just a few. The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr. Seuss Favorites is also that rare audiobook that's a bargain compared to buying hard copies of the many titles it includes.

Bottom line: A deal for the Dr. Seuss devoted.

Children Make Terrible Pets

By Peter Brown
Little Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group), September 2010, $16.99
Ages 4-8

Lucy, a bear, really wants to keep the little boy she finds in the woods, but her mother has reservations. "Children make terrible pets," she warns. But Lucy persists and is permitted to keep her pet boy, whom she names Squeakers. The result? A whirlwind of adventures — fun and not so fun — for Lucy and Squeakers. Clever and heartwarming, Children Make Terrible Pets will delight youngsters.

Bottom line: A clever twist on a familiar experience.

The Harry Potter audiobook series

By J. K. Rowling , narrated by Jim Dale
Ages: 9-12

Veteran Broadway actor Jim Dale created more than 200 voices to portray all the characters in the seven, unabridged audio versions of J. K. Rowlings's Harry Potter series. That adds up to a whooping 117 hours and four minutes of reading time! Dale won a Grammy for his priceless portrayal of Hermoine Granger, Hagrid, Rita Skeeter, Voldemort, and so many other wizards and muggles. Dale even made the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the most voices for an audiobook. Listen and be dazzled.

Bottom line: Don't miss these 100-plus hours of a fantasy phenomenon.

The Castle Corona

By Sharon Creech, narrated by Jennifer Wiltsie
Ages 9 to 12, $26

King Guido and his family are rich, royal, and absurdly spoiled in this beguiling tale by Newberry Medal winner Sharon Creech. Orphaned peasants Pia and Enzio find a pouch with the king's seal on it and become tasters for his food (he's afraid of being poisoned). Narrated with aplomb by actress Jennifer Wiltsie, The Castle Corona will "blow your mind," promises a youthful reviewer on Amazon.

Bottom line: Follow Pia, Enzio, Prince Vito, and Princess Fabrizia in this audio fantasy.

The Candymakers

By Wendy Mass
Little Brown Kids (Hachette Book Group), October 2010, $16.99
Ages 10-14

In The Candymakers, four lucky 12-year-olds have been chosen to compete in a renowned national competition to see who can create the best-tasting candy. The contestants are all very different, and they all very much want to win, but as the story unfolds, they realize that winning may not be as important as friendship — and the lessons they learn along the way.

Bottom line: A delicious tale about competition, camaraderie, and confections.

Twilight saga

By Stephanie Meyer, narrated by Ilyana Kadushin
Young adult, $48-$60

"I'd never given much thought to how I would die — though I'd had reason enough in the last few months — but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this," reads Ilyana Kadushin in the instantly gripping opening of Twilight. Teens are legendarily addicted to this dark series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn), and it's easy to understand why when you hear her rendition of Stephanie Meyer's macabre romance about irresistible vampires.

Bottom line: Bella and Edward's twisted romance is just as thrilling out loud.

Devil Dog

Pulp History series

Devil Dog by David Talbot, illustrated by Spain Rodriguez
Pulp History (Simon and Schuster), October 2010, $19.99
Ages 14 and up

Shadow Knights by Gary Kamiya, illustrated by Jeffrey Smith
Pulp History (Simon and Schuster), October 2010, $19.99
Ages 14 and up

The publication of these books signals the debut of Pulp History, an exciting new series that uses graphic novel techniques to tell the stories of real-life superheroes. Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America chronicles the life of Smedley Butler, a U.S. general who exposed a 1930s Wall Street plot to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal reforms. Shadow Knights: The Secret War Against Hitler describes the courage of the ordinary men and women, organized by Winston Churchill's government, who parachuted into Nazi territory and sabotaged the Third Reich.

Pulp History celebrates heroes whose feats are even more astonishing than performing magic or leaping tall buildings in a single bound: They fight for what they believe in. David Talbot and Gary Kamiya, both veteran journalists, make history crackle in these brilliantly illustrated volumes. Even the most jaded teen will find them difficult to resist.

Bottom line: Historical heroes get the comic-book-cool treatment in these graphic novels.

Mockingjay

Mockingjay

By Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press, August 2010, $17.99
Ages 15 and up

Mockingjay is the last installment in the best-selling Hunger Games trilogy, which has avid fans of all ages. The books tell the story of Katniss Everdeen, a scrappy and resourceful teenage girl who grows up in the ruined remains of what used to be North America. In the course of the earlier books, Katniss becomes a reluctant rebel against a pitiless and oppressive regime. Mockingjay manages to keep up the riveting pace set in the first two volumes, and fans of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire will not be disappointed. Reviewers have compared the trilogy's futuristic setting, ingenuous plot, and suspenseful narrative to 1984, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Harry Potter series.

Bottom line: Hunger Games fans will not be disappointed by this thrilling, intense installment.