Here are your rules. Reluctant Readers love books that are:
2. Filled with Action
3. Full of Freaky Shizzle
If you can find a book with all three, you're gold.
Okay. 1 and 2, those are pretty straight forward. But 3? What's Freaky Shizzle?
Freaky Shizzle means anything paranormal, scary, horrific, gross and/or likely to induce vomiting. This includes tales of unbelievably over-the-top child abuse. Especially includes.
Kids eat up stories where other kids are forced to endure physical and psychological trauma that would make a Green Beret break down and cry for his mommy. A mommy that, in one of these books, would arrive on the scene just in time to beat him senseless then yell at him to stop his x#@&*!@ crying.
Back when I taught middle school, A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer (and its sequels!) passed through my class like Ebola. I had to replace that set of books four times in one year because they were being checked out and read so often the paperbacks were disintegrating.
Personally, I didn't get it. Every time I heard the title, I thought of Charles Addams and The Addams Family.
How I wish the book could have been A Cousin Called It! THAT I would have read!
Which leads me to Rule Number 4 in your 3 Rule set.
4. These books aren't for you
They are for the Reluctant Reader. You need to turn off your inner snob and not pass judgment on these books. Oh! I hear you say. I can't let my kids read junk!
Why not? They're reading. Isn't that the point?
And besides. Who says the books are junk? To you maybe. But these books aren't for you. They're for that Reluctant Reader. The one who started out the school year telling you he hates reading. The one who just enjoyed that "junky" book so much he's gone back into your library to see if you have any more books just like it.
You should consider that a success.