For reluctant readers, focus on very short classic books. There are many great literary works that are remarkably short. Consider reading aloud the first chapter, to get them started with the story and pronunciation of character names.
Crane, Stephen The Red Badge of Courage (Instead of War and Peace)
The story of Henry Fleming, a teenager who enlists with the Union Army in the hopes of fulfilling his dreams of glory
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor The Gambler
At a casino in Germany, a Russian family awaits news that a wealthy relative has died, but to their dismay, she arrives and begins gambling away their inheritance at an alarming rate. As fortunes are squandered and gained, lives are increasingly tied to the fickle rules of chance.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Scarlet Letter (Instead of Sense and Sensibility)
Set in Puritan Boston, tells the story of a woman who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of dignity and repentance.
Hemingway, Ernest Old Man and the Sea (Instead of Moby Dick)
The exciting story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.
London, Jack Call of the Wild
Set in Yukon Territory during the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush, a domesticated dog is snatched and sold into a brutal life as a sled dog, where he struggles to survive.
Melville, Herman Billy Budd (Instead of Moby Dick)
The story of an innocent young man unable to defend himself against a wrongful accusation.
Shelley, Mary Frankenstein
Frankenstein is a young man fascinated by science and attempts to unlock the secrets of life and death.
Steinbeck, John Of Mice and Men
In Depression-era California, two migrant workers dream of better days on a spread of their own, until an act of unintentional violence leads to tragic consequences.
Steinbeck, John The Pearl
A young, strong, and poor Mexican-Indian pearl diver must find a way to pay the town doctor to cure his son. Then he discovers an enormous pearl the size of a seagull's egg when out diving.
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I have a couple of girls who struggled with reading due to some trauma. I had already been filling our "Wasted" travel tiem with good books on tape in the vehicle, so I let them listen to what they could for school books on tape, CD and play aways from teh library, with their own mandatory silent reading on the side. Now they both get frustrated when the new books they want to read take so long to come out pre-read that they are often the first to check out the books at the library and devour them on their own. What started as a struggle is now a love!
We used audio books but only if they could follow along with the written text. The reading the first three chapters and being to busy to finish the story works also.
If they wanted to see a movie a book was based on, the book needed to be read first.
Thank you for this. My son starts his freshman year this year. I have been struggling over what to have him read. He is a very reluctant reader. I wanted to have something to put on his transcript of books, but just didn't know where to begin. Thanks.