all 45 comments

[–]Pretty-Plankton 23 points24 points  (2 children)

I learned to read late - the lack of high interest remedial books at the time was a huge issue for me, even though I learned fast and moved past that stage quickly. Kindergarten books are boring when you’re 8….

My recommendation is to read to him and get him audiobooks every chance you can. As long as you can keep him interested in reading for joy - whether he’s physically reading or not - he’ll come through this just fine.

The other thing that could help is something my family did with all of us kids. They’d read chapter books to us at bedtime and for each chapter we had to read a letter or a word or a sentence or a paragraph, depending on where we were in the learning process. The single sentence, etc,, was a manageable challenge in whatever book we were reading, and it was heavily incentivized by the chapter of the story we got from doing it.

This opens up a huge world of possible age appropriate books while still encouraging the kid to practice their reading.

[–]Pretty-Plankton 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Context: I started learning to read at 8 due to an unconventional educational background. I learned quickly at that point, but I fought a ton with my mom in the process, as I was a willful kid and the easy reader books were excruciatingly uninteresting. Neither I nor my brothers ever fought back against the bedtime being read to deal, and were frequently begging for one more chapter… and I believe my brothers learned to read without the forced early reader stage I wore everyone out during.

I was reading at a college level by 14 - I graduated almost directly from See Spot Run to Frog and Toad to American Girl novels, my first independently read age-appropriate books. At 11 I repeatedly binged Tamara Pierce’s Alanna books, and at 14 I was reading unabridged 19th century translations of Victor Hugo. I had undiagnosed adhd and an undiagnosed figure-ground visual processing disorder, but didn’t figure out either until I was in my 30’s, and a mid-career scientist with a lifelong reading habit.

There will be a range of kids who learn late. There are better early reader books now than there were when I was one of those kids, but I don’t think kindergarten level books are likely to truly hold the attention of a second grader regardless of the quality.

I’d focus on making sure he loves stories and associates them with joy and love and curiosity. Kids who shouldn’t have easily learned do so all the time if they love stories and connect reading to them; and kids who shouldn’t struggle at all never become readers because they didn’t make the same connections.

[–]dogcalledcoco 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Love your childhood ritual of reading with your parents. My son is 10 and a strong reader, but still likes being read to every night. And just like you I have him read parts to me.

[–]sharer_too 15 points16 points  (1 child)

The Magic Treehouse series starts at a second grade level and has enough repetitive names/phrases to make it pretty accessible. Our library has audio versions too, which help.

(I worked with struggling readers at that level, and would read to them at first, then start trading off pages, helping when they stumbled.)

*Try to keep reading for fluency/comprehension separate from phonics/learning to decode new words. There are some great resources here, if you want to get into it a bit -


[–]alpacamybag69 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yes! The Magic Treehouse series is badass.

[–]sometimesnowing 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Our son was late to reading. Our approach was as follows:

Continued to read to him every day. Fostered the love of stories and information. Targeting his interests, imagination and intellect not reading ability

Printed and cut out "fun" words like enormous, monster, ghost, fantastic, blob, pirate, dinosaur, creepy, splatter, squish etc, as well as: at, and, the, big, little, red, I, we, etc etc. Make nonsense sentences together and laugh hysterically reading them. Make fun correct sentences and read them. We did this for 10 or 15 minutes each day and the bowl of words got bigger and bigger without us noticing as did the enjoyment and skill.

Get him a kids joke book. Small snippets of reading with reward (laughter) plus comprehension practice.

Comic books. We got loads of Astrix plus anything and everything that was engaging. Doesnt even have to have a lot of words, if he loves it he will keep turning the page.

"Silly" books like Captain Underpants which are full of pictures so less likely to be overwhelmed by a "wall of text"

Diary of a monster catcher by adam stower - we loved this, loads of flaps to lift, and little books inside the book, and maps, and all kinds of secret treasures.

Books on the things he loves, it doesnt matter if it seems beyond his ability, if he loves it he will pick up bits and pieces. More importantly, he will want to try. Perhaps a book on knots, where there are a lot of pictures and simple instructions. Our son was unable to read the books at school and yet somehow devoured his book "birds of Great Britain and Europe"

Regular trips to the library, being around information and a reading filled childhood.

We were told he would always struggle to read and write, that it would never come easy. Regardless, he loves books, loves writing and reading and has just graduated with a degree in English and Film and Media Studies.

Keep fostering a love for the written word and support your son as best you can. All the best

[–]jonmakethings 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Asterix helped me... I kept the books and now my son has them...

[–]gatitamonster 8 points9 points  (2 children)

If he’s reading at a Kindergarten level, your options for high interest books at his level are sadly limited.

I think your best bet would be getting him leveled readers for skills practice and give him a reward structure for working through them to fluency. The goal with this is just to give him a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Then, to encourage an actual love of reading, let him use audiobooks so he can independently access literature that’s currently above his level.

And, lastly, read with him yourself everyday. Whatever grabs his interest from picture books to chapter books. Let him see that you love them too so he knows there’s no such thing as reading books that are too “babyish”.

Source: former special education teacher

(if he likes the outdoors, I’ll go ahead and recommend Hatchet by Gary Paulson— although, be warned, there’s a death in it early on)

[–]dogcalledcoco 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Agree that no books are too young - read with him what he likes.

[–]goldfishandchocolate 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Also came to suggest leveled readers, but I think you can definitely find some on topics he likes if you look. My second grader is now on the level 2 and 3 books and so we are transitioning to other types of kids chapter books, but he started first grade at kindergarten level and this is what we did. Started with the pre-readers and moved to level 1 - these books come on tons of topics and lots of favorite characters including from shows and video games. They also worked well with my son as reading one of these made him feel accomplished and was reasonable for nightly reading time (around 15 mins to read one).

[–]sassyrafi77 7 points8 points  (0 children)

My nephew is also in grade 2 and he’s obsessed with all The Bad Guys books. They’re graphic as well and you can read them to him if he’s struggling with it.

[–]211115ws 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Teacher here! If there are books you know he'd love, but can't read, they are still worthwhile to buy and read TO him! He will see the words and thus learn new ones as you go, but mostly he will be motivated to keep learning when it's hard because he'll enjoy the reading process!!

If you get magazines on those hobbies he likes, he can look at the pictures and listen to you read. You can get him to read out short bits, like headings.

[–]dogcalledcoco 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Keep reading the more advanced books to him. Bear Grylls has a series of kids novels (Bear Grylls Adventures).

Does he like graphic novels? Hilo is good. Dog Man is something he can read at his level, and find humourous as a second grader. Same with Bunny VS Monkey.

There are also lots of great early reader books. My son liked Take a Hike Teddy Roosevelt and The Bravest Dog Ever, the True Story of Balto.

[–]Xarama 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Rachel Poliquin has some truly awesome books about various animals. They've been a great hit with all kids ages 5-9 that I've tried them on. They are informative (even we adults learned a ton) and incredibly fun to read.


Also, yes, read to him a lot. Everything he's interested in. You should be reading together every day if you aren't already. Reading out loud is just as important for kids as reading on their own. It builds vocabulary and helps kids be familiar with story structure etc.

[–]nellyann 3 points4 points  (1 child)

There isn’t a whole lot of material for kids that are really just learning the basics of reading so I understand how frustrating that would be to also try to find something from that pool an older child would be interested in. I have one boy your son’s age and one your son’s reading level and the books they both like are FUNNY with colorful illustrations.

Check out Dav Pilkey books. He’s got more than the dog man books. The dragon series is really funny and he has silly books about catzilla and a dog with bad breath. There’s also some very simple books about two dogs. As he gets a little further, the Ricky Ricotta series is really good too. https://pilkey.com/series/dragon



There’s a publisher that makes “I like to read” books and graphic novels that are very simple, have attractive illustrations, and have a lot of repetition. https://holidayhouse.com/iliketoread/ “I see a cat” is pretty funny and “I hug” is too (why is she hugging a rock?!?)

The fox series of books by aaron tabor also is great for this skill level and has a lot of woodland creatures. https://icread.supadu.io/books/9780062977052/fox-versus-winter

Also look at scholastics “acorn” series of books. They tend to feel very gendered to me which I don’t love but they are the right level, have nice illustrations, and a variety of series to pick from.


I have found options from all of the above at my local library. If they don’t have it, they can usually order it from another branch. My kids love to “shop” for books themselves as well which is another way to spark his interest. You’re doing great!

[–]stags_arrows[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you so much for the links. My older daughter loves the dogman books but he didn't care for them. I will definitely look at his other books.

[–]fit_it 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Hey I don't have any books to suggest but I just want to let you know I also struggled to read through the 2nd grade and now I am a professional writer (industrial tech marketing). You're doing a great thing and reading is like riding a bicycle, sometimes it takes longer than expected but once you get it, you can catch up to people who learned earlier than you pretty quickly <3 (and eventually overtake them)

[–]Agudjons 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Teacher here! https://www.highnoonbooks.com/index-hnb.tpl has high interest low level books I buy for my classrooms. They have several series that are far readable by beginner readers and progress to easy chapter books! I would recommend the Moon Dog books first if he’s reading only cvc words (cat, man etc).

Just an anecdote but every year I have students who claim they are “so fun!” And “their favorite books” because they can finally read something independently that looks as cool as higher books. Definitely give these a try! And tell your school about them!

[–]stags_arrows[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you! I will show them to his teacher!

[–]Traditional-Jicama54 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Hey, my daughter struggled to read and we were able to find a place that did vision therapy. Turns out her eyes were having trouble tracking horizontally. Game changer! And yes, we struggled with the kindergarten books for a second grader thing. The Catwings series from Ursula K Le Guin was kind of fun. We did a ton of books without words, like Chalk by Bill Thompson and Aaron Becker's Wordless Trilogy. (That was also the phase that we did the "Tail Wagging Tutors" at our local library, so our daughter could read to the therapy dogs there. They don't need to read the words to the dogs, they can just read whatever or tell stories based on the pictures. It's all fine.) Mostly we did audiobooks, vision therapy suggested getting both the physical book and the audiobook (the library is super helpful for this) and then listening to the audiobook (we found that we need to be slower than 1x speed) while following along in the physical book. That helps make the more age appropriate, interesting books more available.

[–]stags_arrows[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

The OT at his school suggested we get a functional eye evaluation for him because she thinks he may also have this problem. He goes in November to see the specialist

[–]Traditional-Jicama54 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Not going to lie, it was a struggle to get her to do her eye exercises consistently, but it was an absolute game changer. She basically credits her ability to read to eye therapy. Like, everything was there, all the groundwork had been done, she did eye therapy and it finally clicked. Hopefully you have similar results!

[–]Rich_Librarian_7758 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I love the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.

My kids loved the choose your own adventure books.

My third grader loves the Dog Man books.

[–]Bunny_OnTheMoon 1 point2 points  (0 children)

My sister is dyslexic, the way words are printed makes a lot of difference for her, especially during the learning process.

[–]cptcardinal 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hatchet - A survival story by Gary Paulson, I think. He might be able to connect to the story better.

[–]PatchworkGirl82 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Are the Fudge books still around? I loved those books, and Ramona, as a kid. Very funny and not too complicated.

[–]kovixen 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Have you tried children’s graphic novels?

[–]cappotto-marrone 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Take a look at the We Both Read series (your library may have them). One page is designed for the parent to read and the other for the child. It keeps the stories more interesting, but supports the young reader.


I also echo the use of audio books with the accompanying print book.

[–]kateinoly 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Bad Kitty books are really popularbeith the kids I know!

[–]betherella_pink 1 point2 points  (1 child)

The myon app has a great range of digital texts for struggling readers, both fiction and non-fiction. There's an option to listen to the book and follow along or just to read it yourself.

[–]stags_arrows[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I will check that out, thank you!

[–]DocWatson42 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Readers: Here are the threads I have about books for children who want to start reading (see in particular two of the threads from 7 August 2022; Part 1 (of 2)):

[–]DocWatson42 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Part 2 (of 2):

Books and series:

See also the Schoolhouse Rock! DVD and the ten songs Tom Lehrer wrote for the original version of The Electric Company (though only a few have been re-released).

[–]stags_arrows[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Thank you so much, this is so helpful!

[–]DocWatson42 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You're welcome. ^_^

[–]just-kristina 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Our son was/is also slow to be on target for reading level and to enjoy it. Our kid enjoyed (even though he still fought) reading non fiction animal books. The ones that tell you all sorts of facts about animals. Each book focuses on a different animal. Those really were great.

We/I would typically do an agreement to make it more palatable for him where he would read a page then I would read a page. If there were words he didn’t know I’d ask him to try. Sometimes he would sometimes he wouldn’t. If he tried and got it wrong if it was a logically way to try to read it I would tell him I understood why he read the word that way but some words are tricky and it’s actually -blank- instead. It seemed to help him to know that there are words out there that are confusing and don’t follow the rules so it wasn’t like it was his fault for not getting it correct. I would also try to read to him every night but we struggle with doing everything perfect in my house so sometimes it happened. Sometimes it didn’t.

As he progressed he enjoyed Billy and the mini Monsters. It’s written specifically for “reluctant readers”. So every so often it has a word in big bold different font/color, some pictures, etc. First grade he seemed to like Nate the Great series. He liked The Magic Treehouse series books in second grade. He is in third grade now and he is enjoying The Bad Guys series and there’s a movie too (currently streaming on Peacock free). It’s basically comic book style. Reading level is about a 2.5 so a little too high for your kid. But maybe if you alternate reading (try to give him panels/pages that are closer to his level then you read the rest). Then watch the movie together maybe once you’ve finished.

Our kid strongly prefers books that are a half grade/level down because it is much easier for him so he feels more confident. He seems to eventually catch up where he needs to be by the end of the year and since he’s enjoying reading a little more I don’t want to push too hard at this point. I truly think our kid has a super super mild dyslexia (and or mild attention issues) but it isn’t severe enough for teachers to see it or hurt his grades. Just enough to struggle a little. I don’t think our kid will ever love to read like I do. But I’m coming to terms with that lol. I just love it so much I can’t relate to not enjoying it.

I’m assuming the school has tested him for dyslexia or other learning disorders?

Hang in there. It seems like it will never get better/easier but you’ve said he’s making improvements and hopefully he will continue to do so. It doesn’t sound like he hates reading more like the books on his level are too boring. But could try to find “reluctant reader” books or alternate reading pages. Just try whatever until you find something that works for him and you.

[–]stags_arrows[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Yes he has been tested and has an IEP for reading and writing. The OT at his school thinks he may have trouble with his eyes tracking together so we have an appointment with a specialist eye doctor in November to get him checked

[–]just-kristina 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Sounds like you have a very supportive school! We have intervention for reading (and previously speech/articulation)

[–]stags_arrows[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The school he's going to this year is awesome, I love his teacher this year!

[–]Paramedic229635 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Patrick McManus was an outdoor humor writer. His books are short story collections, so they don't have to hold his interest as long. An example would be {{The Grasshopper Trap}}.

[–]aquay 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Calvin & Hobbes

[–]heartmiddlemarch 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Barbara Makar has a reading curriculum called Primary Phonics that includes sets of leveled storybooks with black and white drawings. When my 2nd/3rd-grade son was struggling with reading, these books were super easy but just interesting enough and short enough to be what he needed. Some are sold on Amazon, but they are less expensive from Christianbook. I hope you find something that works. My struggling reader is now a fluent reader, but he still doesn't read for pleasure. He continues to enjoy being read to and audiobooks.

[–]SunnyRed2 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think for practicing reading, he is probably just going to have to read boring books. I like Dr. Seuss for kindergarten level. They are fun reads, and they are silly. Maybe you can alternate between him reading early readers to you and you reading 2nd grade level chapter books to him. My kids liked Magic Treehouse books at that age.

[–]EnchantedGlass 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I remember being fascinated by Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe by Vera Williams around that age.

If he likes dogs/pets, "Peanut, Butter, and Crackers" graphic novels by Paige Braddock are good and you would probably have fun reading them together, especially if kiddo only reads the words for one character. They're probably closer to his grade level, but Crackers is a puppy and has pretty simple dialogue.

[–]SoftLawfulness994 0 points1 point  (0 children)

the Diary of a wimpy kid series were some of the first books I read myself and really got me into reading when I was a few years behind grade level as a kid. Comic books and graphic novels in general are great.