My brother-in-law, Michael Jennings, is a fifth grade teacher extraordinaire in a public school outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is a prolific reader who goes the extra mile to find good young adult literature to engage his students with. He’s a young teacher who knows the trends and interests of his students, so when he says there’s a book or series boys love, it’s a book or series boys love. I asked him to give me a short list of titles that have appealed to the boys in his class.  The following suggestions are generally geared for kids between the fourth and eighth grade. It is a diverse selection of material: sports, literature, historical literature, science fiction, fantasy, and outdoor survival. All are topics that appeal especially to boys!

  • Mike Lupica writes young-adult sports novels. His book Summer Ball is a follow-up to the extremely popular Travel Team, a novel about a boy who ends up coaching a basketball travel team. Great books for Sports Enthusiasts!
                                Michael Ford- Spartan Quest Series. The popular adult novelist (who writes fiction about ancient Greece) has written a series directed at younger readers. A young slave in ancient Greece loses the mysterious pendant he wears around his neck and sets out on a quest fraught with danger to retrieve it.  A great historical series with action-filled battle scenes!     
                      Suzanne Collins- The Hunger Games Series. The writing is geared toward younger people but the themes and the content is quite adult; preview this series first! Michael warns me that it’s quite violent.  The story takes place in a post apocalyptic world: think The Running Man or Children of Men. The plot is supposedly riveting; in fact, later today I am running to the library  to see if I can grab a copy. If you want a series that is   
going to capture the attention of your  child AND that                        gives him a lot to think about, this is it!




 John Flanagan- The Ranger’s Apprentice Sseries. A gripping fantasy series about a boy named Will who is assigned as an apprentice to a mysterious ranger. The first book is entitled The Ruins of Gorlan. This series is full of the stuff boys love… danger, gigantic scary beasts, fighting, etc. 


        Gary Paulsen- Hatchet This novel has been a boy’s fave for years and years. Brian survives a plane crash and is on his  own in the Canadian wilderness. Check out other  Paulsen books as well. 


What books or series aimed at boys have you had success with?


{ 34 comments… add one }

  • Michael

    I loved choose your own adventure books as a child! I’ll definitely have to check out R.A. Montgomery!

  • erreauk

    Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro (A futuristic plot where clones are created in order to harvest organs. Disturbing. Ishiguro is fantastic… I love this book!)


  • Rachel

    My son loves the Baseball Card Adventures by Dan Gutman. He has been reading every day since we found this series.

  • Anonymous

    I want to recommend a great book that was released this year called: Third House Down Hidden Cove. The author, Kevin D. Garrahan, is a 6th grade teacher in Northern Virginia and has been teaching for almost 18 years. Boys just love his book and it has a great message. You can visit his web site at:

  • Sue

    For older teens there are some other great books that I’ve found boys love to read:

    “Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan (there are a total of 12 or 13 books in the series and I’ve had boys who’ve read the whole series)

    One of the ultimate favourite for boys is a book by a Canadian named Richard Scarsbrook. The book is called Cheeseburger Subversive and the it can be read as a series of short stories or as a novel as it follows a boy through elementary school and ends at the end of high school. The novel is laugh out loud funny and very insightful!

  • Anonymous

    Do you have a list for younger boys? 1-4 grade? my boys love to read the series: Stink, Dinosaur Cove and Nate the Great. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

  • Jackie

    Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series is a HUGE hit with my 10 year old (started reading this in 4th grade) and his peers. 5 books: Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian. Bonus book: The Demigod Files. Greek Mythology and Tween/Teen concerns. I got hooked on them too. Will be the theme for the next bday party after I was told themes were out. :-)

    AND there is a movie coming out in Feb 2010. Our family tradition is to read or reread the book before seeing the movie and we talk about how the movie is different and why. Has worked for Harry Potter books (still a fave) and Lord of the Rings (yes we read first, saw movie after).

    Artimis Fowl was also on the must read before Percy Jackson. Not sure I miss it; didn’t read it myself so my reaction is a little lopsided.

  • DWEmma

    For Teens:

    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

    Be More Chill by Ned Vizinni

    Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

    anything by Scott Westerfeld (though only the Uglies series if they can get beyond the female protagonist problem that Hunger Games also poses.)

    Valient by Holly Black (also female protag)

    Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns by John Green, if your teen can deal with drama. (All strong, relatable male protagonists.)

    Middle Grade:

    The Last of the Really Great Wang Doodles by Julie (Andrews) Edwards was the only book my kid brother liked other than Matt Christofer books when he was growing up. He still lists it among his favorite books, now that he’s finally taken up reading for pleasure at the age of 23.

    Holes by Louis Sachar

    Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black. Make sure you get him the field guide, for the “nonfiction” component.

    (obviously) Artemis Fowl, Hoot, Hatchet, and Percy Jackson.

  • Anonymous

    The City of Ember series is exceptional. My fourth graders were on the edge of their seats when I read it to them.
    Anything written by Carol Haiassen is perfect as well as the books by Lupica.
    City of Thieves is a perfect book.
    Boys also like the books by James Patterson-Alex Cross(middle school)

  • Anonymous

    The City of Ember series is exceptional. My fourth graders were on the edge of their seats when I read it to them.
    Anything written by Carol Haiassen is perfect as well as the books by Lupica.
    City of Thieves is a perfect book.
    Boys also like the books by James Patterson-Alex Cross(middle school)

  • Ann

    My son began reading Alex Cross in 4th & we had to go out and buy the new one just recently when it came out.  He also likes Maximum Ride and Alex Rider even though those are typically older series.

    My suggestions for 1-4

      Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, Ralph and the Motorcycle, Tales of Despereaux, and Roald Dahl books for the older ones.  My son did not care for Magic Tree House, but many of his friends liked them.  Certainly any Dr. Suess for the younger ones, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Don’t Eat the Teacher, my son even pulled out his old Sandra Boyton books the other day, clearly below his reading level, but they still make him laugh.  There was also a book with a farmer, a duck, and some typewritng cows that my son thought was funny so he read it alot, but I can’t think of the name off the top of my head.

    Hope those help!

  • Anonymous

    The Last Olympian. Bonus book: The Demigod Files. Greek Mythology and
    tiffany silver jewelry Tween/Teen concerns. I got hooked on them too.

  • McCain

    Thanks God there is no J.K.Rollings Harry potter :) here. Jokes apart very interesting choice of books.
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  • Ang

    Percy Jackson series is awesome – my 9 year old couldn’t put them down. This is the 1st year that he has really liked reading. Because I read the twilight books with my daughter my son wanted me to read these books with him. I really thought that I would be bored with them but I had a hard time waiting for him to finish a book before I started it. So many times there were 2 bookmarks in 1 book! Recommended reading. 39 clues is also a great series.

  • Anonymous

    My son loved the Magic Tree House Series and Michigan Chillers series.

  • Robin

    I was reviewing this website for a library science class and I compiled a list for personal use but thought it was useful so I decided to post it to share with all. I broke it down by age range and merely compiled a list based on all the posts with a few additions of my own.

    Young Ones
    Dr. Seuss
    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
    Don’t Eat the Teacher
    Sandra Boyton
    Click Clack Moo Series

    Grades 1-4
    Geronimo Stilton- Series about a mouse who has great adventures
    Stink- series
    Dinosaur Cove
    Nate the Great
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid
    Captain Underpants
    Ralph and the Motorcycle
    Tales of Despereaux
    Roald Dahl
    Magic Tree House Series
    Michigan Chillers Series
    Jimmy Jonjones series

    Grades 4-8
    Mike Lupica- Sports novels
    Michael Ford- Spartan Quest Series Ancient Greek Fiction
    John Flanagan- Ranger’s Apprentice Series Fantasy series.
    Patricia C. Wrede Enchanted Forest Chronicles
    Gary Paulsen- Hatchet wilderness survival story
    Gennifer Choldenko- Al Capone Does My Shirts
    Susan Campbell Bartoletti- The Boy Who Dared
    39 Clues Series
    Jeanne DuPrau- City of Ember
    Joseph Bruchac- Code Talker
    Gordon Korman- The Dive, Everest, and Island Series
    Andrew Clements- Frindle
    Carl Hiaasen- Hoot
    Lemony Snicket- Series of Unfortunate Events
    Gary Soto- Taking Sides
    Sylvia Branzei- Grossology Series –gross science facts
    Andrew Clements- Jake Drake Series
    Jean Craighead George- My Side of the Mountain Series
    Dan Gutman’s- Million Dollar Shot- basketball contest
    RA Montgomery’s- Choose Your Own Adventure Series
    Megan McDonald—Judy Moody Series/ Stink Series
    Dan Gutman- Baseball Card Adventures
    Kevin D. Garrahan- Third House Down Hidden Cove
    Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series- Greek Mythology
    Julie EdwardsLast of the Really Great Wang Doodles
    Louis Sachar- Holes
    Holly Black- Spiderwick Chronicles
    Carol Haiassen
    Lupica (author name)
    James Patterson-Alex Cross

    Grades 9-12
    Kevin Kling- The Dog Says How
    Norman McClean- A River Runs Through It
    David Benioff- City of Thieves
    Larry Doyle—I love you Beth Cooper
    Darren Shan- Cirque du Freak
    Eoin Colfer- Artemis Fowl Series
    Kite Runner & Thousand Splendid Suns
    The Forgotten Fire – Historical
    Terry Pratchet- Nation
    Suzanne Collins-The Hunger Games Series (warning slightly violent content) action
    SA Bodeen- Compound
    Neal Schusterman- Unwind- futuristic survival
    Sharon Draper- Hazelwood High Series
    Pearl S.Buck
    Jon Krakauer’s- Into thin Air and Into the Wild
    Michael Crighton
    Jon Grisham
    Terry Brooks- Fantasy
    Robert O’Brien- Z for Zachariah- nuclear holocaust novel
    Neil Gaiman- Neverwhere: a Novel
    Robert Jordan- Wheel of Time Series
    Richard Scarsbrook- Cheeseburger Subversive
    M.T. Andersen- Feed Satire of American consumerism
    Ishiguro- Never Let me Go- futuristic
    Cory Doctorow- Little Brother
    Ned Vizinni- Be More Chill
    Sherman Alexie- Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    Scott Westerfeld
    Holly Black- Valient
    John Green

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    Lol you lil racoons!

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  • Sandra

    My (male) students also enjoy the Five Ancestors series by Jeff Stone. My nephew (10th grader) who loves Terry Brooks books also enjoyed the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks.

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  • Paul Gray

    The scholars in my class enjoyed an electronic book discussion with preservice elementary education students at a local college.  I selected the books and the fifth graders read them with one of the college students.  They communicated periodically using Blackboard.  The college students were encouraged to stretch their partner’s thinking beyond what was on the pages to a more interpretive level.  I was very impressed with the results and can’t wait to do it again next year.  Even those most reluctant to write about their thoughts were compelled to share with the college students.  One of the titles selected was Wolf Brother from the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver.  The two boys who read this book raved and have gotten most other boys in the class to read this title as well as others in the series.  Parents have commented that they can’t get their son to stop reading!  I hope they don’t try too hard.  The girls are now beginning to read the books wondering what the excitement is about.  Rules was another popular title from this collaboration.

  • Smiley Mary

    For boys in 3-5 grade

    The Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieska are great…
    Jerry Spinnelli books…
    Chet Gecko Mysteries
    A to Z mysteries
    Of course Captain Underpants

    A great series for early readers are the frog and toad series by Arnold Lobel
    Henry and Mudge series

    Check out Scholastic book orders!! They have a HUGE selection of non-fiction, informational books on subjects that boys seem to love…

  • Samuel

    I must admit, great tips for students about reading.
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  • Michael

    I have other sports-themed titles by Lupica in my classroom library, but I’m not familiar with Travel Team or Summer Ball. I’ll be sure to check them out!

    In my experience, both boys and girls enjoy Hatchet, but since the protagonist is a young man, perhaps boys can relate better. Paulsen’s other titles in the Brian series have been popular, too.

    Here are some other titles from my classroom library that have been popular with male readers:

    * Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
    * The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
    * The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
    * Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
    * The Dive, Everest, and Island series by Gordon Korman
    * Frindle by Andrew Clements
    * Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
    * The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket
    * Taking Sides by Gary Soto

    Hope this proves helpful!

  • Holly J


    LOVE this list!  Thanks!



  • Andrea

    I would love more ideas for OLDER boy readers… my son is 15, almost 16. It can be tricky finding the right book for this age. Recent books he has loved include :
    The Dog Says How by Kevin Kling
    A River Runs Through It by Norman McClean (his recent favorite)
    City of Thieves by David Benioff
    He is currently reading, and enjoying, I Love You Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle.

    I know that is a wide range of book styles, but would love suggestions from others on books he might like… He tends to come to me at 10 pm saying “Mom, I need a book” and I am scrambling!

  • Nancy

    Here are some boys books that I have found popular:

    Sylvia Branzei and her Grossology series, gives facts on the science behind usual gross out things like flatulence- boys love it

    Eoin Colfer and the Artemis Fowl series- teenage boys love this… Artemis is a kid with an attitude

    Andrew Clements writes so many great boys books and now has a new series for younger boys called Jake Drake

    Jean Craighead George write a great series for kids who loved Hatchet… My side of the Mountain and its sequels… a boy chooses to live alone in the Appalachians, living off the land.

    All of Dan Gutman’s books are great for boys… like Million Dollar Shot about a boy who wants to win a basketball contest.

    RA Montgomery’s Choose Your own Adventure series, which has 2 levels of reading… some are junior high level and some are easier with beautiful colored pictures.

    Megan McDonald wrote the Judy Moody series and now there is a little brother series called Stink ( the brother’s nickname) which younger boys love.

    Darren Shan and the Cirque du Freak series

    Geronimo Stilton about a mouse who has great adventures… a big favorite with grade 2-4.

    I love seeing other people’s favorites… thanks Mike for setting this up!

  • Nancy

    Hi Andrea- of the books I listed on the blog page, only Cirque du Freak and the Artemis Fowl series are for older teens… but there are some wonderful books for adults he might like…
    Has he read the Kite Runner or the follow up- a Thousand Splendid Suns? The Forgotten Fire about the Armenian Massacre by the Turks in 1915 is very compelling. Nation by Terry Pratchett and Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins have gotten rave reviews ( although I have not read them) as well as The Compound by SA Bodeen.
    It is great that he likes to read so much!

  • millerbookgirl

    Holly and all,

    I can personally vouch for Hunger Games and Compound for both boys and girls in high school. I loved Hunger Games and Compound was a little freaky but has a really interesting story line. I can’t keep them on the shelves. Another book that is flying off the shelves is Unwind by Neal Schusterman. These 3 books have a futuristic “survial” theme that really gets the kids thinking. My problem right now is the kids wanting more books of this type and I can’t find any more titles. Any ideas?

    Sharon Draper has a series out called Hazelwood High. These are very popular with the high school crowd. I haven’t read them but they are contemorary YA and boys ask for these a lot.

    Does anyone have suggestions of titles for nonfiction for high school boys?

  • Holly J

    Hello all!

    High schoolers who love to read should certainly begin to transition into adult literature.  After all, their school requirements, Steinbeck, Pearl S. Buck, Hemingway-all wrote to an adult audience!  

    I found this great reading site.  The author has listed a bunch of books he thinks are great for teens (he doesn’t decipher between male and female, but since he is male, the books seemed to be more guy-oriented.)

    Some books I thought of adding:  Jon Krakauer’s outdoor adventure books Into Thin Air and Into the Wild.

    When my husband was in high school, he enjoyed Michael Crichton novels, John Grisham, and the Shanarra series by Terry Brooks (fantasy.)   

    Love all the suggestions.  Keep bringing them in.  I would love to submit a master list!


  • Holly J

    Oh, and I forgot to add… great futuristic survival themed books:

    Z for Zachariah by Robert O’Brien (nuclear holocaust novel.  Written in 1976 but stands up well with time- very scary!)


    Neverwhere: A Novel: Neil Gaiman (hard to describe… a story about a mysterious London underworld… very creepy.)


    Feed by M.T. Andersen (Tv’s and computers are hooked into infants heads for commercial purposes- a satire about American consumerism- sort of a black comedy)


    Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro (A futuristic plot where clones are created in order to harvest organs.  Disturbing.  Ishiguro is fantastic… I love this book!)

  • Andrea

    Nancy (and the others!)- Thanks for the great suggestions. I have made a list and will stock up at the library this weekend.


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