High Interest – Low Readability Books for Upper Elementary

When upper elementary kids struggle with reading, as teachers, we want to do everything possible to help these reluctant readers improve their reading skills and to see reading as an enjoyable activity.

One of the ways to help struggling readers is to have lots of high interest- low readability books available to them.

Of course, every student is different, and what appeals to one may not appeal to another. The idea though is to have a big enough variety of books that you’re able to provide choices to the child. These choices ideally will be books that don’t seem babyish and are engaging but at an easier reading level.

Best of all, we can hope that the books are so interesting that the upper grader actually wants to spend time reading that book, and then the next…and the next…!

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High Interest – Low Readability Book Suggestions

1. Book Series

Getting kids hooked on an author or series of books is a great way to get kids to read several books or more!

Book Series Suggestions:


2. Graphic Novels

Lots of kids like graphic novels (and some don’t!). They’re a great genre though, for reluctant readers who do enjoy them. Some of the graphic novels are single-read books, while others are also a book series.

Graphic Novel Suggestions:


3. Selected Chapter Books

There are lots of really good chapter books that are of high interest but at an easier reading level for struggling readers.

Chapter Book Suggestions:


4. Nonfiction Books

Most kids like nonfiction and there are quite a few that are considered hi-lo (high interest – low readability) books.

Nonfiction Book Suggestions:

  • Who Would Win?
    • These books are compare and contrast books. They compare two animals, like lions and tigers, and describe their attributes. Lots of good scientific information is included.


5. Historical Fiction Books

I am a huge history fan and so these are books I get excited about. Some of your students may start to enjoy true-life stories too after reading some of these.

Historical Fiction Book Suggestions:

  • What Was Books:
    • These are published by Penguin, which also publishes the Who Was books. This series tells stories about famous and not so famous places and events, like Ellis Island, The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, The Great Depression, and more!


6. Poetry

Yep, I said it, poetry! Of course, I’m not recommending Emily Dickinson, but I am thinking more along the lines of Shel Silverstein! There are lots of fun poetry books that reluctant readers really enjoy.

One great thing about them is that they come in bite-sized reading pieces. Since many of the poems are simply a one page read, it’s less intimidating than a complete chapter book.

Here are a few poetry book suggestions:


The upper elementary grades are a crucial time to get our struggling readers back on track (no pressure, though).

When kids come to us as reluctant readers, who may do everything they can to avoid reading, our goal is to not only provide meaningful comprehension lessons but to help them find books that make them want to read independently.


If you’d like more ideas about motivating struggling readers, you might like to read another post I wrote. Click here to read Motivating Reluctant Readers in Upper Elementary.


If you need some reading resources that are no-fluff but are differentiated (three levels for each passage and games and task cards for grades 3rd – 5th-grade reading levels) you might like to take a look at these:

Main Idea Kit

Main Idea Differentiated Bundle for 3rd - 5th Grades


Text Evidence Kit

   Text Evidence Differentiated Bundle

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The Teacher Next Door - Creating upper elementary resources that target standards for busy teachers

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The Teacher Next Door - Creating upper elementary resources that target standards for busy teachers

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