Friday, July 18, 2008

Do You Write for Reluctant Readers?

I have not always loved to read. When I was in the fifth grade I distinctly remember hating to write book reports because I would have to read. However, fifth grade was also a pivotal year because I read a book all the way to the end. Before that crucial moment all of my book reports were based on jacket flaps. I can’t remember the author or the name of the book that piqued my interest in reading but I do remember it was about a girl my age who knew how I felt and liked what I liked. The author did a wonderful job leading a reluctant reader down a path of adventure.

Fast forward to 2008. Young reluctant readers (also known as Hi/Lo readers) are on the rise and there is a great need for authors to write in this unique genre. Reluctant readers read both fiction and non-fiction. According to Elizabeth Kennedy of in her article of Resources for Reluctant Readers there are several different types of reluctant readers according to the experts.

*Children who are intelligent and interested but don’t read well.
*Children who have no interest and are at risk of failing.
*Children who deal with specific learning problems.
*A child who reads well but has little interest.

Are you a writer who would like to help this type of reader? I found a helpful article by Lori Jameson and Paul Kropp on Reading Rockets: Hooking Struggling Readers. Writers of controlled-readability materials must be aware that the interest of a book must be held all the way through. Authors of regular novels can spend more time describing characters, scenery and background but an author of a Hi/Lo book has to keep the plot spinning to keep a reluctant reader’s attention.

To find out the science behind books for reluctant readers and free materials for teachers and parents go to H-I-P (High Interest Publishing) and visit Lori Jameson and Paul Kropp at HIP-Books. This information is a great start on researching how to write for reluctant readers of all ages.

An author needs to make the reader care what happens to the characters. Making connections from one's own experience to the text is an important reading strategy and a basic literacy skill. It is a challenge but that is what writing is about. Creating and challenging. If you can help a child relate to experiences in a book they may be able to stretch their reading curve up a grade level or two.

Write it down,



  1. Hi Carma,

    I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for boys 8 and up, that kids hate to put down. My web site is at and my Books for Boys blog is at
    Ranked by Accelerated Reader

    Max Elliot Anderson

    Read about my message to kids in a bottle:

  2. Hi Carma,

    I was never a reluctant reader, but my daughter had difficulties learning how to read. When she finally got going, she was a voracious reader. It was more than time well spent.

    I live by the philosophy that if you can read, you can learn.


  3. Hi Carma,

    I've always been a big reader and so are my oldest two. However, my youngest, who was an early reader and top in his class in first grade, lost interest in reading as he grew older. We discovered that he had some visual processing problems that hadn't shown up when he was reading large text.

    I'm still trying to get him to read, and I worry about how he will handle the small print, now that he's entering high school.

    I'm going to check out those links today.


  4. Hi Carma...I was never reluctant reader, but my oldest daughter is. It's been an ongoing challenge, but she's getting there. Hope you are well.


  5. Thanks Donna, Sometimes our interest in reading depends on the subject. I think an interest needs to be created about topics first then the reluctant reader will realize that reading is fun.

    Take Care,

  6. I have two books out for reluctant readers at the middle grade level, maybe up to 14 years, and another coming out this fall.

    Two of the books are about a boys' baseball team that solves mysteries, and the new one will be about a young boy/man who wanted to be a cowboy during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

    I use illustrations or pictures to break up the pages of words, which helps a reluctant reader not feel overwhelmed.

    My books are the result of a grandson who's a reluctant reader and what I learned as a teacher for twenty-seven years.


  7. Hi Vivian, I would love to read your books and do a review and an interview with you.

    Thanks for stopping by

  8. How can we make this work? I can ship books or send PDFs. Please contact me at