Cutting to the Chase: 3 High-Interest YA Series for Reluctant Readers

By Amy Fitzgerald, Editor

Confession time: I have a shamefully short attention span. When I think about certain books I read as a kid, I’m amazed that I had the patience to get through them. One recent evening, I got home from work, looked at the stack of verging-on-overdue novels I’d checked out from the library weeks earlier, thought “Nope,” and cued up the latest episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

On one level this is embarrassing. I’m an editor, for goodness’ sake. My job is not just to read but to form a relationship with the words on a page, explore them in depth, and savor them, so that future readers can do the same.

But my impatience can also be useful. For one thing, it makes truly great writing stand out even more. If I’m riveted, I know I’ve discovered something special. For another thing, I have no trouble relating to one of Lerner’s most important audiences: reluctant and struggling readers. As a kid and teen, I didn’t remotely fit into this category, but as an adult I’m much more easily distracted, frustrated, or bored with what I read. Life is a LOT; sometimes we humans just don’t have the mental energy for a dense or slow-moving story.

That’s part of why I enjoy overseeing our Darby Creek imprint so much. My fellow editors and I work with our authors to come up with exciting plots with page-turning pacing. We get to jump straight to the action, the drama, the meat of a story. That doesn’t mean we don’t also pay attention to characterization, setting, and larger themes–but it does let us craft manuscripts that cut right to the chase. Which, for a teen who doesn’t like reading, is a powerful motivation to actually pick up a book.

3 series for reluctant readers

In honor of Peak Gift-Buying Season, here are some suggestions (not that an editor ever plays favorites!) for the reluctant, struggling, or burned-out readers in your life:

Level Up

For the teen who needs to read a book but would rather be playing a video game, this series is the best of both worlds. In the not-so distant future, teens get to test out a virtual reality game that immerses them in a unique world. The catch: if they lose the game, they’ll be trapped inside it forever.Level Up series for reluctant readers

The Atlas of Cursed Places

The atlas mentioned here is perhaps the only reference book that teens would eagerly scour library shelves to find. It’s a guide to cursed locations around the country, with clues about how to break each curse. When your new home or your favorite vacation spot turns out to be cursed, you’d better brush up on your research skills and learn how to protect yourself, before the curse claims its next victim.

The Atlas of Cursed Places series for reluctant readers

Day of Disaster

Working on these books made me extra confident that if I ever encounter a tornado, a wildfire, or another natural disaster, I will absolutely not make it out alive. But teens who read these books may feel differently! And they’ll have the satisfaction of experiencing a heart-pounding life-or-death situation without getting up from their chairs. A perfect way, in my opinion, to ring out 2017!

Day of Disaster series for reluctant readers

More series for reluctant readers

To see our full lineup of Darby Creek series for struggling and reluctant readers, click here. Plus, for a scary series for reluctant readers, check out this blog post.


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