Earlier this week, I wrote about Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief. I said that one of the things that I liked about the book was the way Percy's dyslexia, ADHD, and behavioral problems were integrated into the story as differences that make him who he is, rather than as negative attributes. Shortly thereafter Kellye, a reading tutor and Mom, suggested to me a couple of other good series for older kids who are struggling a bit with reading.
Kellye told me that Jenny Nimmo's Charlie Bone books have all been printed with double-spaced text at Ms. Nimmo's request, to make the books easier to read. I had noticed the double spacing, but hadn't realized that this was a deliberate tactic. Kellye said (of the double-spacing) "this proves a real benefit for children who struggle to overcome reading disorders as they are less likely to encounter the problem of the text lines running together." These books are about children who have all descended (over many years) from a magical king, and who consequently have unique and mysterious powers (called endowments). The children fall into two groups (think good vs. evil) struggling against one another. The backdrop is a gloomy boarding school in a town filled with unusual people and happenings. The main character, Charlie, is trying to find the father who disappeared when Charlie was very small. I enjoyed these books a lot, and I agree with Kellye that they would be an excellent fit for kids not quite ready to read The Harry Potter books on their own.
Kellye also recommended The Underland Chronicles series by Suzanne Collins for pre-teens "as the stories are adventurous and fun, the series keeps them coming back for more and the reading level is and book size is not quite as overwhelming to a young reader who is ready to advance on to larger books." I haven't read the Underland Chronicles yet, but I have just checked the first one out of the library. It's about an 11-year-old boy and his 2-year-old sister who fall into fall into an amazing underground world. Here are some links to these series, both of which are in progress.
Charlie Bone / Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo
- Midnight for Charlie Bone (Book 1)
- Charlie Bone and the Time Twister (Book 2)
- Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy (Book 3)
- Charlie Bone And The Castle Of Mirrors (Book 4)
The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
- Gregor The Overlander (Book 1)
- Gregor The Overlander And The Prophecy Of Bane (Book 2)
- Gregor And The Curse Of The Warmbloods (Book 3)
If you know of other books that are especially good for older kids who want great stories, but have a bit of trouble with reading large, dense books like Harry Potter 6, let me know. I'll do a follow-up article. To me, it makes sense to remove any hurdles that are standing in the way of kids who do want to read but have difficulty with it. If these books can help, more power to them. Keep The Lightning Thief in mind, too. Thanks for visiting! -- Jen