Jennifer H. contacted us and asked the following:
I have a dilemma. My student, Paula, is a sixth grade student but she is reading on a first grade level. I know what do to for her (no confusion there!), but don’t know what books to give her to read on her own! She needs some chapter books that are on her level, but most of what I can find is a little bit immature in terms of theme and characters. Junie B Jones is too young for Paula– she doesn’t want to read about a kindergarten student! Other books with appropriate heroines are too difficult for Paula to read on her own. Do you have any suggestions?
Paula definitely wants to become a reader, she just needs the right book. Thank you for any advice you can offer!
I asked the Mixed-Up Authors for their suggestions, but I wanted to share their answers with any other parents, teachers, or librarians who might be struggling with the same issue. Thanks to Jennifer for letting us post her question.
“I was thinking Lunch Lady, too, and Babymouse. Nonfiction in whatever areas interest her….” –Laurie Schneider
“You know? This might be a good pick for this reader: Brains for Lunch, A Zombie Novel in Haiku by K.A. Holt. It’s funny and the Haiku format is easy to read, not too many words on the page.
Also, what about novels in verse? Sharon Creech? Love That Dog and Hate That Cat are middle grade but pretty simple text.” –Diana Greenwood
“Sounds like she might also be a good candidate for a Hi-Lo book–one written at an easier reading level with an older student in mind.” –Joanne Prushing Johnson
“Orca Soundings puts out books for the hi-lo reader. They are a Canadian publisher, not sure if you can get those in the States…
“Depending on her sense of humour she might like The Ghost Hunter books by Cornelia Funke (but the reading level might be a little too high).
“100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes? A little higher than grade one though, but a compelling emotional story that might draw her in.
“She might like some of the Stepping Stone books that are non-fiction, seems to me there is one about the Trojan Horse, another about Pompeii (the Step Into Reading, level five books would be good too).
“Beast Quest if she likes fantasy.
“Frannie K. Stein, she is a younger mc, but is funny silly comic book type in appearance. And there is a the series GO Girl (but mc might be too young?).” –Deb Marshall
“Recommended by my go-to person for questions like this — middle school librarian Chris Gustafson in Seattle: The Stone Arch books — they are high interest/low reading level and would appeal to a sixth grader. The Orca Soundings books recommended by Deb are great for YA and might be good options for this sixth grader if carefully vetted. They often deal with serious teen issues.” – Katherine Schlick Noe
“And how about Judy Moody, Clementine and Clarice Bean?” –Amie Borst
And one last suggestion: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It’s a higher reading level, but the book eases kids into reading, and half the story is told in pictures. So don’t let the thickness of the book scare you away.
Readers, do you have any other suggestions? If you do, please let us know in the comments below.
And good luck finding just the right book for Paula, Jennifer!