High-Interest, Low Reading-Level Books

Teacher helping a young reader

There are many appropriate beginning reading materials for young children. However, it can often be a challenge to find high interest, low reading level books for older children, teens, and adults whose reading skills fall below the expected level. A reluctant or struggling reader needs interesting content that is also accessible.

High Interest Low Reading Level Books

Children beyond the primary years, middle school students, teenagers, and adults who face literacy issues need content that holds their interest, but does not frustrate them. Books, magazines, and newspapers can all be sources of relevant material for older kids and for adults. Students who are learning English as a second language face the same issues; they may not be able to read English well enough to access content appropriate to their intellectual development.

Help at the Library

Your local librarian may be able to help you select materials that have interesting content without presenting reading challenges beyond the required level. A children's librarian will be especially helpful in pointing you toward reading material with content of interest to the developing reader. A librarian who is familiar with both the fiction and nonfiction collections is likely to have a sense of the reading difficulty of a number of interesting books.

In addition, the American Library Association publishes Quick and Popular Reads for Teens, which has an annotated bibliography of books for teens and young adults. One of the goals of this book is to highlight material for those who do not find reading fun or easy. The Chicago Public Library website also has features to help you select materials for beginning adult readers, as well as materials on teaching adults to read.


Fictional books tend to focus on characters that fall into a specific age or grade level. However, some fictional stories written for children have sufficiently universal or humorous themes that may resonate with teens and adults. For example, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and its sequels will appeal not only to fourth and fifth grade boys, but to their older siblings and parents. These books are graphic novels and the use of pictures reinforces reading skills. Books such as Witch of Blackbird Pond, Johnny Tremain, and Amos Fortune Freeman are historical fiction with a broader appeal than their target age groups. Finally, nonfiction lets the challenged reader pick subject matter that is not tied to a specific age group. Books about sports, nature, and nature, biographies, and travel all provide interesting content even if they are written for younger students.


A number of popular magazines provide content at about a middle school reading level. A few magazines that have content that will interest older teens and adults follow:

  • The Reader's Digest
  • People
  • Sports Illustrated
  • National Geographic

In addition, the Magazine Subscription Network website has a search tool, so you can search for magazines of interest to teens and young adults. Material in many of these magazines is suitable for those learning to read.


Most local newspapers provide content at a reading level accessible to most middle school level readers. USA Today also provides news, weather, and sports information at a reading level accessible to most young students and to adult learners. Newspapers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are aimed at more sophisticated readers and may be too difficult for beginning readers.

The Scholastic Books Tool

The Scholastic Books website provides a tool to help teachers (and parents) find books at an appropriate reading level and on subjects of interest for a specific student or students. The tool allows you to enter criteria on reading level and interest areas to search an extensive data base for appropriate books.

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Finding interesting material at an appropriate reading level may present some challenges, but there are resources available at your local library and online. A little effort will elicit a large amount of material suitable for a new or challenged reader.

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