They’re the books that got many reluctant readers turning pages, but what to do once they’ve finished them all? It’s a question I hear often when I work in the Children’s Room. Parents want to keep the interest going, and are keen to know which other books will appeal to their DOAWK fans.
A couple of the attractions of this series for reluctant readers is that there are pictures, which provides a text break and makes reading feel more manageable, and humor, which makes them fun rather than work. Here are 10 suggestions for books that hit those sweet spots with middle grade readers.
Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis. Meet Timmy Failure, the founder, president, and CEO of the best detective agency in town, probably the nation. And his lazy sidekick, Total, a 1,500-pound polar bear.
Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look. Frightened by everything out in the world and completely quiet at school, Asian-American second-grader Alvin Ho becomes a force to be reckoned with at home when he transforms himself into the loud, talented, and fearless Firecracker Man!
How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans, tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon.
Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger. Tommy and his friends interact with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, to try and figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future.
Tom Gates series by Liz Pinchon. Irritating his teachers with his lack of focus and creative excuses, Tom Gates spends his time drawing pictures and writing down observations about everything from his grumpy sister and annoying classmate to an unsatisfying camping trip.
The Odd Squad series by Michael Fry. When his school counselor insists that he needs better socialization skills after being stuffed into a locker by a bully, middle-schooler Nick finds himself, along with two other misfits, joining the school’s lamest club: Safety Patrol.
Clueless McGee series by Jeff Mack. Clueless McGee is just your average fifth-grader: snarky, awkward, and a magnet for trouble. The only difference: he’s also an amateur detective. Determined to make his absent father proud, he uses the skills he’s learned playing video games to solve mysteries.
The Terrible Two books by Mac Barnett and Jory John. Disgusted when he has to move from the oceanside community where he was infamous for his tricks to a sleepy, cow-filled town that already has a notable prankster, Miles plots mischief that culminates in a daring partnership.
Dear Dumb Diary series by Jim Benton. Take a peek inside the diaries of middle schoolerJamie Kelly – she’s cool (sometimes), nice (mostly), and funny (always). She’s the nerd, the cute girl, the jealous girl, and the brainiac all wrapped up in one.
The Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renée Russell. Through journal entries, sketches, and drawings, the complicated life of eighth grader Nikki Maxwell is presented – her relationship with her mother, secret crushes, dealings with her biggest rival at school, passion in pursuing art as a career, and overall views on the world in which she lives.