good books for difficult child??



difficult child rarely reads. couldn't get him to read anything all year. Now he asked me what kind of book he could read. He said he really dislikes Harry Potter. He says he gets bored reading, has trouble finding a book that really keeps his interest. He did read one book in 6th grade that kept his interest. Don't recall the name, but it was about a child that was abused.(true story). I believe it was written by the child. He really liked that book. So, I was thinking he likes true life stories, where he must keep reading to find out what happens.

I really would like him to read. Any suggestions?


Active Member
Could you get him to read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon? While it's not autobiographical, it sure feels like it. The narrator is autistic - Asperger's - and lives a very dysfunctional family life. He lives with his father, who is not coping well. Although the narrator (Christopher) can't see how he complicates lives, the reader can read between the lines. His problem solving skills are ingenious and the misunderstandings are funny/sad. You laugh, but if you live with it your heart aches a bit, too. However, Christopher manages to want some things so badly that he does what people thought was impossible for him, to get the answers he needs to sort out his life.
The ending is very positive, Christopher has changed a number of lives for the better, not just his own.
It's set in England but it should be fairly easy to follow. The language is deceptively simple but the book does not talk down in any way. You feel like you're reading a children's book - until he begins to talk about prime numbers, crime scenes and mathematics. it might give difficult child an insight into how hard it can be for other people who don't think/feel exactly the way he does. An enlightening, entertaining read.

I have other books I'd recommend, but they are in the category of fantasy satire and from what you say he'd probably get impatient with that.

Other possibilities - Isaac Asimov's robot short stories/books. "The Complete Robot" is a huge omnibus anthology of everything robotic written by Asimov. It comprises "I, Robot" and "The Rest of the Robots". "Bicentennial Man" is in there too, along with some later robot stories. Two novels in the same vein are "Caves of Steel" (a futuristic New York, trying to solve a murder with a robot as detective partner) and its sequel, "The Naked Sun". The robot in these two books, Daneel Olivaw, was the template for Data in "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

If he likes books which have also been made into movies, what about Michael Crichton? "Jurassic Park" is a good read, if he liked the movie. The book is far better. There are other books by Michael Crichton also made into movies (as well as some that should be) - "Congo", "Andromeda Strain", "Timeline", "The Terminal Man" and more.
Good stuff.



Thanks Marg..I'll stop by the library for the first book you mentioned.

When he was younger my sister bought him Alexanders horrible day, or something on that matter (childrens book) He wouldn't even open it up. He was very insulted as his name is Alexander.
You don't think he would associate the book with himself do you?
He understand he has anger issues, mood swings and such.


Active Member
I didn't even get through Curious Indcident--you'll have to tell me how he likes it!

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is book that is widely accepted--people who don't normally read the science fiction genre often like it because it has wonderful characters and a great plot.

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog is a great book (funny too!). I read it to my kids last year and they loved it.

You might try audiobooks if he's not taking to written books.


New Member
I can't remember the title of the book that your son liked so much but I know there is a sequel to it. My daughter is not a reader but she did enjoy both of these books. Another book she really liked was "Holes". (She didn't think Harry Potter was boring just too long and not worth the effort.)

I tried to get her interested in science fiction, especially Robert Heinlein's early works since they were actually geared towards younger readers. SciFi was not her thing but might interest a boy more. You might see if he would enjoy any of those. (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Farnham's Freehold, Starship Trooper, Space Cadet) The robot series by Asimov is also pretty good.

I found that books had to be pretty slim for my daughter to be willing to even pick them up. A thicker book with small print just was not going to be read no matter what.

When I get the chance, I'll ask her if she remembers any other books she liked to read at that age.


A boy named IT? I think that may be the book he read, which I've read and it's on a very adult level.

My son at that age who never reads anything, loved the Artemis Fowl books and read all of them. And hasn't read anything sense either LOL still looking.


That is the name. A boy named IT. He got it in the School Library.

Thanks. I will look these up.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I can't think of any books off hand but it sounds like he is the sort that likes non fiction which is very common especially among boys. It's one part of my class library I'm always trying to build up as I have lots of fiction but not as many non fiction books.


New Member
The sequel to "A Boy Named It" is "A Man Named Dave." Dave Plezer, the author, also wrote "Lost Boy" and a few others. If your son is like my daughter, he'll love "A Man Named Dave."


New Member
Dylan likes the Jack and Annie books ~ The Magic Tree House. They are chapter books, probably 100-200 pages each. For difficult child's age, he should be able to handle them. You can get them at Borders or what not, they're pretty cheap, maybe $3.00 a piece. They're pretty good.

He also likes the Goosebumps series. And he's now reading the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

There's a Sci-Fi series he likes, too, but it escapes me at the moment.


There are a couple of follow-up's to A Boy named It. Not sure what they'r called, but same author.

There's also a book about one of the girls killed in Colombine. My son liked the "it" books and really liked that book, too. I'll see if I can find the title. Seems to me its called "She Said Yes" or something like that.


Roll With It
I am not sure of the appropriateness of "A Boy called It" for a 12yo. The author is Dave Pelzer and he IS the boy in the book. It is about really hard-core child abuse. If you feel it is ok, go for it. I am kind of surprised it was in the school library, here it is not even in the jr high library. Only in hte high school library.

If this is the type of book, try "Don't Hurt Laurie" and "The Lottery Rose". I forget the authors, but they would/could be more age approp. They are about girls though. Not sure if that would be a negative for your son.

I can ask Jess about books. My difficult child is into the fantasy, anime, graphic novel stuff. He would not be any help.

Have you considered Sports Illustrated for kids if he is into sports? My cousin (wierd link on family tree, he is my difficult child's age)was reading at age 5(pre-K), then quit reading all together. A gift subscription to SI for kids was the only gift idea I could think of so we tried it. He startede reading again, but only sports stuff.

If the real life stuff interests your son, a subscription to REaders Digest might be interesting. My grandparents gave my bro and I one every year from the summer I was 10 on. We started reading them at my grandparents that summer and were hooked. My folks figured the stories were usually not too far above what was appropriate for us. Jbird recently discovered RD and loves it.



difficult child watches ESPN 24/7. Has ESPN magazine which he DOES read. Reads the sports section of the newspaper daily as well as internet sites on sports. he is definately a sports fanatic. Statistics of players/teams are permanently engraved in his brain. He can out talk any adult in sports. And he isn't shy about correcting someone if he overhears them state a wrong date or statistic. Quite embarrassing at times.

difficult child said he there are three books in the series of "a boy called it". I am only aware of two. He told me all the names, and "a man called dave" was the last of the three. he said he read both of the others at school.

My neighbor has subscription to RD. I think I will borrow a few and see if he likes it.



Active Member
It's hard to get my difficult child to read. It has to be a book or subject he likes, or no way. What I did was take him to the book store, the section for his age, and at the time he was into ghost stories so pointed him at the shelves containing books like that (mostly "true" ghost stories), and let him choose. It got him reading. Then he was looking one day at the school library for a book (they're required to have one for quiet reading time)and he found a book about vampires called Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan - and he read the whole 12 book series, and in the last month has read 3 and is on the 4th in Shan's new demon series. This is a kid who'll take a zero mark at school and get in trouble rather than read a book he doesn't like. The book covers are pretty creepy (so's Shan's website LOL), and I haven't read them but I'm into Stephen King and Dean Koontz so there you go LOL but I figure they were in the library at school so can't be too graphic.

You could try that - take him to the library or bookstore and find the young adult books and and the section that has the subject he's into and let him browse.


Taking a Zero...exactly what difficult child will do. They even told him he could read the News paper for the 15 minutes of silent reading. He reads it at home. Nope..prefers to put his head down and sleep. (it is first hour class) He may like that. Tries to act all tough and watch scary movies with friends..then is afraid to sleep alone because of his dreams. Lol. That is a really good idea. I'll check on that too.