Skip to Content

21 awesome books for reluctant readers (they won’t be able to resist)

21 awesome books for reluctant readers (they won’t be able to resist)

The trio behind Your Kids Next Read – award-winning children’s authors Allison Tait and Allison Rushby, and popular teacher-librarian and blogger Megan Daley – bring us the definitive list of books that make great gifts for reluctant readers.

Tempting gifts for reluctant readers

‘Reluctant readers’ is a term bandied about by parents, teachers, and the media, but what does it mean? Some kids don’t want to read because it’s hard for them – we all find our reading feet at our own pace. Some are reluctant readers because they’re high-energy, easily-distracted powerhouses who find ‘still time’ difficult. Still others are unenthusiastic because reading just feels like ‘more school’ to them. They’d rather use their downtime to watch movies or play games.

“I just haven’t met you yet”

Mostly, though, we believe that kids who don’t like to read much simply haven’t discovered the right book. The one that will open up the world of stories for them and show them just what reading can be.

Opening up that world for reluctant readers often requires persistence. It means joining the library and bringing home a big pile of books you ‘think they’ll like’ and some that might surprise them (and you). It means patiently enduring those times when they insist on simply reading the same book or series over and over, whilst still putting something different into their hands occasionally.

Opening up the world of reading for reluctant readers often requires persistence.

It means still buying books as gifts for reluctant readers– for Christmas, birthday, whatever. Just having them in their lives and in your home, as items of value.

Because you never, ever know just which moment will be the moment and which book will be the book.

Discover the right book

We’ve put together a list of 21 books that we think could just be ‘that book’. These gifts for reluctant readers are more than just a book: they are an experience. One that just might spark some enthusiasm for the next book, and the next, and the next.

Because you never, ever know just which moment will be the moment and which book will be the book.

Perfect gifts for reluctant readers

Disclosure: Mumlyfe is a Booktopia affiliate which means that if you click through from this page and buy a book, we receive a small commission at no cost to you. Read more about Mumlyfe and affiliate links here.

Ages 8-11

Gifts for reluctant readers - tween readers

Everything I’ve never said by Sam Wheeler (9+)

Ava has Rett syndrome – she can’t talk, nod her head or even point at a communication card. She understands everything, but no-one understands her. This is a powerful and insightful novel, which is both realistic about the immense challenges faced by families where disability and ability co-exist, and full of warmth, humour and kindness. Full review here.

Buy this book.

Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood (9+)

A poignant verse novel depicting the joys and heartbreaks of a farming family as they struggle to cope with the devastating effects of long term drought. Full review here.

Buy this book.

The Adventures of Catvinkle by Elliot Perlman (8+)

A funny, thoughtful, wise book about friendship, empathy and difference. A favourite bedtime read-aloud in Megan’s house! Full review here.

Buy this book.

Sonam and the Silence Eddie Ayres (9+)

A lyrical fable-like story about the irrepressible power of music and a young girl in Kabul during the occupation of the Taliban. Full review here.

Buy this book.


Megan Daley - Raising Readers

Sisters St Claire by Carlie Gibson and Tamsin Ainslie (8+)

One of the top 15 most borrowed books in Megan’s junior school library, this is a delightful, rhyming tale about five gourmand mouse sisters who go to the market. Fans of Ruby Red Shoes will love it. (See the rest of Megan’s most borrowed books here.)

Buy this book.

Pippa’s Island by Belinda Murrell (9+)

A fun series about ten-year-old Pippa Hamilton, who moves from London to a tiny tropical island on the other side of the world. She meets a group of girls and they form a secret club. See a kid review of one of the Pippa’s Island series here. Book series make great gifts for reluctant readers because if they enjoy the first book, they often want to keep reading.

Buy this book.

Check out these book series too: 16 book series to tempt reluctant readers


The magic bookshop by Natalie Jane prior and Cheryl Orsini

What better way to entice a reluctant reader than to uncover the magic of books in this lovely collection of fully illustrated stories. Perfect for those who want more than a picture book, but are not yet ready for a complete chapter book.

Buy this book.

Gifts for reluctant readers aged 12-14

Gifts for reluctant readers - awesome books for teens

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (13+)

This past-paced sci-fi adventure story has a graphic format, short chapters, lots of cheeky humour, and terrific characters. It’s great for kids who are easily distracted and they’ll love the different ways the narrative is presented (text/chat/report/script).

Buy this book.

Geek Girl by Holly Smale (12+)

The YKNR group often recommends this book for tween readers looking for ‘more’ and for teen girls who are struggling to find books they like. It’s the story of Harriet Manners, a socially awkward 15-year-old who has troubles with the school bully.

Buy this book.

Unrequited by Emma Grey (12+)

This romp of a tale about a girl and the lead singer of a boy band is the perfect antidote to a bad day. Lots of fun, romance and songwriting.

Buy this book.

Warcross by Marie Lu (13+)

When teenage hacker Emika Chen glitches into the International Championships of Warcross, the biggest online game in the world, her life changes overnight. A fast-paced book full of authentic gaming details, it first came to our attention on this list of tried-and-tested books for 13/14 year old boys.

Buy this book.


Allison Tait - author of The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher book series for tweens

Bro by Helen Chebatte (14+)

Romeo Makhlouf is in year 10 and there are three unspoken rules at his school: stick with your own kind, don’t dob on your mates (or your enemies) and respect your family. When he gets into a fight, however, things are not as clear. Full review by teen reader here.

Buy this book.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (14+)

Xiomara is The Poet X and her life a constant fight. The school’s poetry slam club is a way to take back her power, but is the world – is her family – ready for Xiomara? This is a novel in verse and looks at themes of puberty, gender politics, religion and finding your voice.

Buy this book.

Brontide by Sue McPherson (14+)

Is it fiction or is it real? That’s one of the most often asked question about this short, sharp coming-of-age story about four boys, recounted, mostly in script form, through storytelling sessions at their school over a period of five days. It may not take them long to read, but it will give teen readers a lot of think about.

Buy this book.

Graphic novels

Graphic novels that make great gifts for reluctant readers

If your kids have already enjoyed some of the best-selling graphic novels on offer like The Babysitters Club (Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Raina Telgemeir and Gale Galligan), Amulet (Kazu Kibuishi) and Phoebe and her Unicorn (Dana Simpson), maybe consider branching out a little further with their graphic novel holiday reading. Graphic novels make the perfect gifts for reluctant readers as they often feel less daunting than a regular novel. A few suggestions: 

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (8+) – a hilarious read about the author’s adventures on Russian summer holiday camp. 

Sheets by Brenna Thummler (8+)– a tale of an unlikely friendship between a girl and a ghost and a whole lot of laundry. 

Real Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (8+)Real Friends tracks a group of friends from kindergarten through to fifth grade and looks at how the path of friendship isn’t always smooth. 

The Graveyard Book: graphic novel by Neil Gaiman (8+)– a gorgeous graphic novel edition of The Graveyard Book with different illustrators illustrating each chapter. 

Allison Rushby

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (8+) – from the author of Smile and Sisters, Drama follows Callie, who enters the all-consuming world of the school musical. 

Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson (8+) – a great introduction to Hilda’s magical, enchanted world. Read it first and then watch it on Netflix. 

Diary of a Tokyo Teen: a Japanese-American girl travels to the land of trendy fashion, high-tech toilets and maid cafes by Christine Mari Inzer (10+) – a fantastic visual diary of the author’s journey back to the city she was born in.

Which books do you think would make great gifts for reluctant readers?

21 awesome book gifts for reluctant readers #reader #giftsforkids #reluctantreaders #books

21 books turned into kids' movies that will inspire non-readers | Mumlyfe

Monday 9th of December 2019

[…] More books for reluctant readers […]

Books for reluctant readers: Review of Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Friday 24th of May 2019

[…] review of Malamander is part of our ongoing quest to encourage reluctant readers to find their ‘key’ book. Maybe this is the book that will unlock their love of […]

Comments are closed.