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What are Hi-Lo books?

Hi-Lo (or High-Low) books are books specially created to engage struggling and reluctant readers. The term ‘Hi-Lo’ stands for ‘high interest age, low reading age’. In other words they are perfect for those children whose reading age is lower than their actual age.

No older reader wants to be seen reading ‘baby’ books. Apart from the potential embarrassment factor, the content of most lower-level books is written with younger readers in mind. If older students are forced to keep reading them, it is likely to put them off reading altogether.

A good Hi-Lo book will cover a high-interest non-fiction topic or have an exciting, sophisticated storyline appropriate for older readers. Its look-and-feel will also be age-appropriate, and it will look just like non Hi-Lo books written for on-level readers of the same age. However, it will also feature simple sentences, controlled vocabulary, a lower page count and shorter chapters. Combined, these all help struggling readers to improve their comprehension and fluency skills, increase their background knowledge, gain confidence, and above all develop a love of reading!

Who should be given Hi-Lo books?

Hi-Lo books are perfect for engaging reluctant readers, struggling readers, students for whom English is a second language, and those with dyslexia. They are also great for students with a higher reading age but a short attention span! If this sounds like any of your readers, then Raintree’s Hi-Lo books are for you!



Raintree's range of Hi-Lo books

Raintree believes that reading is for everyone and that all children can develop a love of reading if they are given access to books that interest them. This principle also applies to our collection of Hi-Lo books, and we have a varied collection of titles ranging from high-interest non-fiction topics to ‘scary’ chapter books and even hi-lo graphic novels. Below are a selection of some of our highlights.


Hi-Lo Non-fiction

Our Spark Hi-Lo non-fiction series (Interest Age 9-13, Reading Age 7-8) cater for a wide range of interests, from quirky biographies of top stars to football’s greatest rivalries and the world’s strangest animals. Some recent highlights include:

Hi-Lo Graphic Novels


Our range of hi-lo graphic novels are certain to hook in even your most reluctant readers. Some readers find the extended blocks of text in chapter books and traditional non-fiction daunting. The visual clues provided in graphic novels, alongside small chunks of expository text and dialogue, mean they can be read without feeling overwhelming, providing a sense of accomplishment and motivation! Our range of hi-lo graphic novels include something for everyone!



Readers can really get lost in our varied Hi-Lo fiction series. We don’t let a lower reading age get in the way of exciting, mature and sometimes scary stories. Our striking illustrations appeal to older readers, while also helping the reader to understand and follow the story. And the plots are not patronising; they are clever, funny, and sometimes ghoulish and dark. Our DC collections feature familiar superheroes in the battle against super-villains. The readability of our Hi-Lo Fiction books means that children who might struggle to finish a novel can take pride in finishing a whole book – and then go on to read a whole series!

Fiction – ​Express Editions


Our Express Editions collections (Interest Age 8-14, Reading Age 6-7) comprise new editions of some of our most captivating Hi-Lo fiction, with a further-reduced text-level of ATOS 2.0 or below. We’ve kept all the thrills and spills, the exciting storylines and the appealing illustrations. But the text-level in these books is even lower to make them accessible to even the most struggling readers. Our Express Editions include the following series:

Wanting to expand your range of HiLo titles? Speak to our team of experts at [email protected] for more title suggestions and tailored recommendations for your school.