Accelerated Reader for struggling readers

By Kerry McGuire, Assistant Editor

Reading can be a struggle for many children. Maybe they find it difficult because something is stopping them from developing the skills required to read fluently. Perhaps they can read quite well but just don’t want to! Most schools have a combination of types of “struggling readers”. These include – but certainly aren’t limited to – those with disabilities such as dyslexia or an attention disorder, reluctant and nervous readers, or readers who are new to the language. The books and series below are some more recent additions to Accelerated Reader that might be useful when encouraging these students to get stuck into a book along with their classmates.

Find book and quiz details for the titles mentioned in this blog at the bottom of the page.

Hi/Lo for all Interest Levels

Older pupils who are lower-level readers can often feel embarrassed about being lumped with books that are clearly aimed at young children – especially when compared to what their peers may be reading. This is where High Interest/Low Level comes in. Hi/Lo books contain content appropriate to the reader’s actual age, whilst the text is designed to suit a lower reading age. The Two Sides series from Badger is a new Hi/Lo series with an Upper Years interest level. The six books deal with complex experiences many teens face like gender issues and abuse. The stories are compelling while the text and sentence length are not daunting for an EAL or low-level reader.  As an added bonus, the books are perfect examples of parallel narrative.

Another brilliant Hi/Lo series for Upper Years students is Badger’s Papercuts. This series has 12 spooky horror-themed books, so fans can enjoy it over a period of time! So far we’ve quizzed half of them, but the others have been assigned to quiz writers this week!

Collins say their Big Cat Progress series is “designed for children at Key Stage 2 who have a Key Stage 1 reading level, giving them age-appropriate texts that they can read, building their confidence and fostering positive attitudes towards reading.” The series has a good mixture of fiction and non-fiction books and, so far, 48 of them are on AR!



One way of helping reluctant readers is to nudge them towards the non-fiction section of the library. Perhaps reading around their favourite subject or sport could be the key to boosting their confidence with books.

Collins have a huge number of titles in their National Geographic Kids reading scheme, many of which have AR quizzes. The books cover all sorts of topics ranging from biographies, to animals, to scientific concepts, and the AR Book Levels range between 0 and 5.

Focusing on visuals can help retain the interest of readers who struggle with deciphering blocks of text. If the beautiful illustrations in some of the non-fiction titles from Wren & Rook don’t get children turning pages, I’m not sure what will!

The Legend of Tutankhamun by Sally Morgan takes readers on a journey searching for the tomb of the legendary pharaoh. And for older children, Lita Judge’s Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein presents a unique biography of the author’s life with free verse and enchanting watercolour illustrations.

New non-fiction quizzes are being added to AR every week. Keep an eye on our social media pages for the Featured Non-Fiction updates!

Free Verse Format

Making the leap from shorter books to longer chapter books can be nerve-wracking. Books written in free verse can act as a stepping stone for nervous readers as these books are quick page turners. This year’s Carnegie shortlist features three of them! Rebound by Kwame Alexander is perfect for sporty Middle Years boys. It tells the story of Chuck “Da Man” Bell who is dealing with the loss of his father.

Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down is one for older pupils. In it, 15-year-old Will sets out to avenge his brother’s shooting by learning some truths from seven ghosts. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is about passionate teenager Xiomara who expresses herself through slam poetry. I’d recommend this one to older girls who need something punchy to keep them interested.

Recorded Voice Quizzes

Doing an advanced search on AR Bookfinder for Quiz Type “Recorded Voice”, shows over a thousand quizzes that pupils can listen to as well as read. This feature mainly benefits beginner readers, but EAL pupils can find having the quizzes read out to them helpful for pronunciation practice. Most RV quizzes are very low level and ask just three questions, as well as having only three responses to choose from.

Occasionally you will find a few more challenging, five-question quizzes with this feature,  including eight books from the Hi/Lo Monsters Like Us graphic novel series. This might be a useful incentive for encouraging a reluctant reader to pick a book or two from the series!

Ransom is a great publisher for providing books for struggling readers. Their Dark Man series for older pupils all have Recorded Voice quizzes on AR, and their Neutron Stars also have a number of fiction and non-fiction books with RV, which are marketed towards struggling teen and adult readers.

Dyslexic Readers

Everyone knows that Barrington Stoke is the go-to publisher for Super-Readable children’s books! My recent favourite from them is Alex Wheatle’s Kerb-Stain Boys. While we’re here, all of Alex Wheatle’s books are great for reluctant readers! The story is still based in Crongton, but focuses on a different group of friends and their plan to rob the post office.

 Race to the Frozen North is a good discussion starter as it describes the first person to reach the North Pole, whose achievement was ignored due to the colour of their skin.

In Malorie Blackman’s A Dangerous Game, we follow Sam who has a long-term illness as he goes on a school trip to the Scottish Highlands. He wants to prove to his friends that he’s just as strong as they are. But when his group become lost in the wilderness, they end up in some trouble.


We’d love to find out which books your students have loved, or hear your techniques for helping struggling readers. Let us know over on our Twitter and Facebook pages!

Book details

Two Sides series by various authors
Badger Publishing | BL 2.8 – 3.8 | UY

Papercuts series by various authors
Badger Publishing | BL 3.2 -4.3 | UY

Big Cat Progress series by various authors
Collins | BL 1.4 – 5.2 | MY

National Geographic Kids series by various authors
Collins | BL 0.6 – 5.3 | LY

The Legend of Tutankhamun by Sally Morgan
Wren & Rook | BL 6.5 | MY | Quiz #234400

Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lita Judge
Wren & Rook | BL 7.1 | UY | Quiz #233380

Rebound by Kwame Alexander
Andersen Press | BL 4.3 | MY | Quiz #233708

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Faber and Faber | BL 4.3 | UY | Quiz #233755

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Electric Monkey | BL 5.2 | UY | Quiz #236183

Monsters Like Us series by Steve Barlow
Franklin Watts | BL 1.4 -1.5 | MY

Ransom Neutron Stars series by various authors
Ransom Publishing | BL 0.7 – 3.8 | MY

Dark Man series by Peter Lancett
Ransom Publishing | BL 1.4 – 3.5 | MY+ / UY

Kerb-Stain Boys: The Crongton Broadway Robbery by Alex Wheatle
Barrington Stoke | BL 4.0 | MY+ | Quiz #234313

Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson
Barrington Stoke | BL 4.6 | MY | Quiz #234314

A Dangerous Game by Malorie Blackman
Barrington Stoke | BL 3.7 | MY | Quiz #234311

Kerry McGuire
Assistant Editor

Posted on 23 April 2019 at 11:40 am
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