The End of Summer Reading Rut
 
Summer’s vacation is almost over! Has your son been reading this summer? Or are you in a rut? My boys get overwhelmed when in the children’s book section at the library. There are hundred of books and they have no interest in sorting through them. They generally grab a couple in display that look interesting and then run off to play in the toy corner. 
 
A lot of the times, the books they chose are duds. This is why finding good recommendations of books that will engage your boys is a good idea.
 
Letter to Kids’ Books Publishers: More Books for BOYS!
 
Speaking of finding books to engage your boys… the School Library Journal posted an open letter to kids’ books publishers from school librarian Diantha McBride. In her letter, she gives publishers ten suggestions to make their books better. Suggestions #5? More boy books! She writes:
 

 

I’m afraid this won’t be popular, but I need more books for boys—as do most librarians who work with young people. I’ve noticed that lots of books with female characters aren’t really about being female. In fact, in many cases, the main characters could just as easily have been males—and that would make my job a lot easier. Our young guys love Anthony Horowitz’s “Alex Rider” series (Philomel), Dav Pilkey’s stuff, and Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz’s “Froggy” books (Viking). But a novel like Ann Halam’s Siberia (Random House, 2005) could have included a male protagonist. (Sorry, Ann, but it’s true.) And Gloria Whelan’s The Impossible Journey (HarperCollins, 2003) could have featured an older brother and a younger sister—instead of 13-year-old Marya and her younger brother, Georgi. Am I being silly? Probably, but some of our boys have never read a complete book in their lives. It’s important to offer them good, appealing stories, and, sad to say, that means stories with prominent male characters.
 
Way to go, Diantha! You’re not being silly AT ALL!
 
Reading Suggestions for the Younger Male Crowd
 
While we wait for kids book publishers to see things our way, I think the following lists of books have passed the “appeal to male audiences” test.
 
I’ve been a high school English teacher, a store manager and a bookstore, and a mom of three rambunctious boys (plus one daughter- don’t want to forget her.) I have conducted Saturday morning story hour at the Borders I worked at, read aloud to middle school and high school students, volunteered to read in my own children’s classrooms, and of course read aloud to my own boys in our home. Based on my experiences, the following are books that successfully reached the younger boy crowd, from about age 3 to age 12.
 
I’ve lumped these lists into different categories: picture books, chapter books to read aloud, and books for beginner readers.
 
Picture Books
 
First up: picture books to read in the classroom or at home with small fries who may or may not read yet. These books have themes and storylines that appeal especially to boys. From trains to farting dogs, side-splitting jokes to fantastical creatures, these books are sure to please the silly or serious boy in your life.
 
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss: Dr. Seuss is always a great read-aloud. This book never fails to please.
 
Parts by Tedd Arnold: This boy suffers from an early onset of neuroses. Hysterical!
 
Tootle by Gertrude Crampton: This Little Golden Book still sells in grocery check-out lanes. Why? Because boys, after decades, still love trains.
 
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper: Read above!
 
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. Repetitious, silly, educational, and fun. 
 
Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle: Um, the title speaks for itself.
 
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett:  Meteorology gone awry. 
 
Dirt on my Shirt by Jeff Foxworthy: Funny stuff from a funny, kid-friendly comedian!
 
Timothy and the Strong Pajamas by Vivian Schwarz: Pajamas turn boy into superhero. How cool is that?
 
The Loudest Lion by Paul Bright: Papa lion threatens to eat any animal who awakens his sleeping cub. Then, he gets hungry and begins wishing someone would make some noise. Hilarity ensues.
 
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg: Stellar pictures, fantastical tale!
 
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka: Who says the pigs should be the protagonists? Let’s hear it for the wolf!
 
The Day I Fell Down the Toilet and Other Poems by Steve Turner: What would happen if you fell down the toilet? 
 
The Egg by M.P Robertson: The egg holds something mysterious!
 
The Boy Who was Followed Home by Mahy and Kellogg: And he was followed home more than once, my friends.
 
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Noble and Kellogg: Boa accompanies Jimmy on class field trip to farm. Utter chaos ensues.
 
Can I Keep Him by Steven Kellogg: What I pull out when my kids ask me for a dog.
 
Owen by Kevin Henkes: A sweet tale about a little boy unwilling to give up his beloved blankie.
 
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales by Jon Scieszka: The only thing more fun than a live gingerbread man is a live stinky cheese man!
 
The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone: I get the most excitement from little guys when I read this book. Grover, of Sesame Street fame, implores the readers of this book not to turn the pages, for at the end of the book is… a monster! Of course, young readers urge me to turn the page anyway. A great, interactive book.
 
 
Chapter Books
 
List #2: Chapter Books to Read Aloud
 
I like to read to my kids before bed, so these books are a little calmer, though some are still quite silly. Because there are a lot of words and few pictures, reading these aloud makes them more palatable and enjoyable for novice readers.   
 
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Stuart Little by E.B. White
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
Charlie and the Chocolate Family by Roald Dahl
Mr Popper’s Penguins. by Richard Atwater
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Superfudge by Judy Blume
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks
Wayside School Boxed Set by Louis Sachar
The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes
 
Books for Beginner Readers
 
List #3: Books for beginner readers. 
 
Most of these are series, which appeal to kids. The DK Readers series include a lot of books about superheroes. The Eyewitness series include a lot of science and non-fiction material. Looking for more series that appeal to boys? Check out Kidsreads.com’s comprehensive series list. 
 
Captain Fact Series by Packer Knife
Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey
Wiley and Grampa’s Creature Features by Kirk Scrogg
Eyewitness Readers series
DK Readers series
Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne
Flat Stanley and  Invisible Stanley by Jeff Brown
Zac Power Series by H.I. Larry
Just Annoying by Andy Griffiths
Just Disgusting by Andy Griffiths
The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
 
What are your…
a)      Favorite picture books for boys?
b)      Favorite chapter books to read aloud to boys?
c)      Favorite beginner reader books?
 
 

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Jessica

    Wow, there are a lot of great books listed already, but let me add my boys’ favorites.

    What are your…
    a) Favorite picture books for boys?

    1. Dav Pilkey
    – Dog Breath
    – Dogzilla
    – Kat Kong
    – The Hallo-Wiener
    2. Mike Thaler
    – The Black Lagoon series
    3. Mercer Mayer
    – There’s a Nightmare In My Closet
    4. David Shannon
    – No, David (and sequels)
    5. Ruth Krauss
    – The Carrot Seed
    6. Pat Hutchin
    – Rosie’s Walk
    7. Doreen Cronin
    – all
    8. Nancy Shaw
    – the Sheep books
    9. Maurice Sendak
    – any (mine especially liked Pierre)
    10. Eric Carle
    – any (mine especially liked The Grouch Ladybug)
    11. Allan Ahlberg
    – the FunnBones series
    12. Joanna Cole
    – The Clown-Around series
    13. B.G. Hennessy
    – The Road Builders
    14. Kate & Jim McMullan
    – I Stink
    15. Margaret Wise Brown
    – Two Little Trains
    16. Virginia Lee Burton
    – any
    17. Kevin Lewis
    – Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo

    b) Favorite chapter books to read aloud to boys?

    1. Avi
    – The Poppy books

    c) Favorite beginner reader books

    1. Esile Arevamirp (Elise Primavera)
    – The Fred and Anthony series
    2. Brian Anderson
    – The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton series
    3. Greg Trine
    – Melvin Beederman, Superhero series
    4. D.L. Garfinkle
    – Supernatural Rubber Chickens series
    5. Francesca Simon
    – Horrid Henry series
    6. Adam Blade
    – Beast Quest series
    7. Jim Benton
    – Franny K Stein series
    8. Eric Wight
    – Frankie Pickle series
    9. David A. Adler
    – Cam Jansen
    10. Dav Pilkey
    – Ricky Ricotta
    11. R.L. Stine
    – Rotten School

    d. I know you didn’t ask, but graphic novels:

    1. Scott Morse
    – Magic Pickle
    2. Frank Cammuso
    – Knights of the Lunch Table series
    3. D.J. Steinberg
    – The Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy series
    4. Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
    – BabyMouse series (yes they are pink & yes my boys love them)
    5. Jarrett J. Krosoczka
    -Lunch Lady series
    6. Eric Craddock
    – Stone Rabbit series
    7. almost any of the graphic novels put out by StoneArch

    Reply
  • Jessica

    I was at the bookstore today picking up the latest BabyMouse book when I realized that I forgot to list a great beginning reader chapter book series: The Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo. My boys flat out refused to read a chapter book for over a year, claiming it would be too hard. I checked out a couple of Mercy Watson books and sat down and read them to myself. I laughed so much that they just had to read them to see what was so funny. They read them aloud to me so that we could laugh together. That was the end of their fear of chapter books.

    Also, while I am thinking of Kate DiCamillo, the boys really enjoyed my reading The Tale of Despereaux to them.

    Reply
  • Inger

    Hi
    Thanks for the great post, lots of wonderful places to start.
    I would add the Geronimo Stilton series to your list of beginner reader and chapter books. They are full of colorful pictures and mix up the colors and fonts in the text so boys reluctant to read pages full of words have visual cues to engage them.
    The stories are full of teamwork, friendship and camaraderie.
    The factfiles in later books are also a wonderful gift for boys who like to find out more about non-fiction subjects.
    Cheers
    Inger

    Reply

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