Engaging Your Struggling Readers
Here in the Collection Development department at Mackin, we get a lot of requests from librarians for high interest/low reading level fiction for their struggling readers. We often find ourselves pointing these librarians to two publishers in particular: Orca and Saddleback. They really are the stand-out publishers for hi/low titles, and I thought I would share a few new titles today for Books in Bloom readers hoping to engage reluctant or low-level readers.
Red Rhino is a series of chapter books aimed at third through fifth grade students with reading levels at the first grade level from Saddleback. I read two Red Rhino titles to get a sense of the series. Both were simple, yet engaging. The Lexile levels for the series range from 90 to 220, so they are easy to read and not intimidating for emergent readers of any age. The covers are eye-catching and not-too-childish—perfect for the audience.
First, Fish Boy by M.G. Higgins is a story about a boy in a family of superheroes in Arizona. Unfortunately for Danny, a.k.a. Fish Boy, there isn’t a lot of water in Arizona, so Danny’s super powers don’t do much good. But Danny is determined to be the hero he is meant to be. This story is a good choice for any elementary schooler, but definitely suggest it to the third and fourth graders who need a slightly lower level story. (9781622509539. May 2015. Gr. 3-6)
The Hero of Crow’s Crossing by Anne Schraff looks creepy, but the mystery is actually a gentle one—and just interesting enough to keep readers wondering. Who is Mr. Ridley? Why did he move to Crow’s Crossing? Why is he digging holes on Shadow Hill? Tazmin isn’t concerned about those questions, though. All she knows is that Mr. Ridley is the best teacher she has ever had, and she doesn’t want him to leave Crow’s Crossing. Secrets never seem to stay secret for long, and Mr. Ridley’s secrets are no exception. This is a great story for readers who want a not-very-scary mystery with a heartwarming ending. (9781622509430. March 2015. Gr. 3-6)
Orca’s new Limelights series is geared toward middle or high school readers with reading levels at around fourth grade. The stories are focused on the arts, and the one that I read featured an ambitious young woman pursuing a career in the circus. In Learning the Ropes, Mandy is an aerialist training in rope climbing at a summer program for young circus performers. Mandy’s talent and ambition is obvious from the beginning of the story when she leaves for her summer program without her father’s approval. At circus camp, the reality of performing becomes clear, and readers will root for Mandy as she struggles to push herself in a competitive environment. It is a fascinating look into a world that few teens have seen firsthand, and it is a solid choice for readers looking for an easy, realistic read.