I’ve spent the bulk of my educational career working with reluctant and struggling readers. (See my post here for details on ways to engage these students.)
When you have a double dose of challenge, i.e. a student who both doesn’t like to read and is also several grade-levels behind in-terms-of reading skills, your options for connecting that student to the “right” book narrow considerably.
I’m talking about the junior high and early high school students who put their heads down or act out or walk out instead of giving a book a try. Some of these students might also have identified learning disabilities, but many do not. What they have all had are multiple negative experiences with reading, whether self-created in the most supportive print-rich homes and classrooms or not.
I don’t remember exactly how I discovered the Bluford Series, but when I did it started several of my most reluctant and challenged readers down the path of literacy. I love it when older students say, “that’s the first book I’ve ever read” and suddenly reading time isn’t torture anymore.
From the Townsend Press website:
The Bluford Series is a collection of twenty high-interest novels that have captivated teens nationwide. Set in fictional Bluford High, a tough but nurturing inner city high school, the novels speak to the interests, struggles, and concerns of today’s 5th–10th graders. Praised by faculty, parents, and students alike, the Bluford Series has transformed entire classrooms into reading zones. A frequent choice for school- and city-wide reading initiatives, the series has been widely reviewed in the Journal for Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL) and repeatedly endorsed by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).
Over the years I’ve used the Bluford Series novels for whole class, small group and individual reading.
Even though it is called a series, you don’t have to read these books in any order. Characters overlap between stories. A minor character in one story may be the narrator in another book.
What I LOVE about the Bluford Series is that the stories are complex with well-developed characters while also being accessible to struggling readers. They are not little kids’ books; instead, they are mature stories that older students connect with but are written at fifth and sixth grade reading levels. ALA, YALSA and KIRKUS have all given these books positive reviews.
These novels cost one dollar each. Yes, just a dollar!!! And, Townsend Press will send you three free sample copies to try out.
Thanks for stopping. If you have favorite books that hook the hard-to-hook I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.