Good Books for Boys and the People who Love Them

I am frequently asked to recommend books for kids to read.  I spend a lot of time reading juvenile and young adult literature just so I can recommend them to my own students.  Today I got the request again. . .this time for a boy from 5th-7th grade.  Below is the list I sent verbatim, not edited or cleaned up as I am B-U-S-Y and not yet to summer.  HOWEVER, I have read almost of all these books to my own kids.  The exceptions are FEW.  They are excellent–especially when read aloud or when you read some and the child takes it from there.  Most books don’t REALLY get good until the end of chapter 2/beginning of chapter 3, so get them started, then they will be BEGGING you to read more or asking if they can just read it on their own.  If after three or four chapters they just aren’t that into it–pick another book.  There is no law that says once a book is begun it must be finished.  Ever.  Happy reading!!!


Here are books that I HIGHLY recommend. All are appropriate depending on what her son enjoys reading. If he’s a reluctant reader, I’d start with House on Hackman’s Hill, Hatchet, or How to Train Your Dragon.

Hatchet (adventure. . .boy surviving plane crash in Alaskan wildnerness)

Someone’s Hiding on Alcatraz Island (boy hides on Alcatraz overnight while gang is after him)

House on Hackman’s Hill (boy and cousin go into an abandoned house to find treasures and get stranded there)

The Cay (set during WWII, EXCELLENT to listen to on cd, because one of the main characters has a thick Caribbean accent that is spelled out in the book. This would be a great one for a trip, because the entire family will enjoy it.  Boy’s dad is in Caribbean to help with fuel for war effort, boy and mom head back to U.S., are torpedoed, boy is rescued by black deck hand and they survive on a tiny Cay which is a small, waterless island. MY FAVORITE BOOK TO TEACHER EVER, EVER, EVER!!!)

How to Train Your Dragon– this series is EXCELLENT. Totally different from the movie, high level humor (some potty humor too. . .it is geared toward boys), and just so, so good. We’ve read them all (I read them aloud to Victoria and Thad both) and can’t WAIT for the next one which is probably the last of the series.

The Penderwicks (this has girl protagonists, HOWEVER, they are very well written and have a boy as one of the main characters. There are three in the series. I’ve read all three of them aloud to the kids, and Thad loves them too.)

Holes– similar to the movie, but still an excellent read.

A Time for Andrew– boy changes places in time with a look alike ghost who is his departed cousin from years back

Ghost Soldier– boy can communicate with a soldier boy from the Civil War who needs help righting a wrong

Tuck Everlasting– the protagonist is a girl, but it deals with if you COULD live forever would you. . .also has boys in it and is beautifully written.

Red Dog– boy is left to protect family while step dad is gone, family is attacked by down and out miners and boy must save them

Where the Red Fern Grows– DUH. . .but if he’s not a reader, this would be one that I would steer away from simply because it’s long and can look intimidating, plus it takes some background knowledge

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Dangerous Book for Boys (excellent multi-tasking book with stuff boys need to know, read, do, etc.but he will want to do some of the activities, so she needs to be prepared. 🙂

The Indian in the Cupboard (more widely read than Castle in the Attic. . .)

The Castle in the Attic (similar to Indian in the Cupboard, but the boy–William–actually becomes a person who goes INTO the castle to save the kingdom. I used to do this one with my 5th graders EVERY SPRING.)

The Thief of Always–haven’t ever read or heard of this one, but will read it to the kids this summer. Looks good. I went online to find a list of books, and pretty much all the ones I had on my list were on theirs. . .guess I’m not doing so bad. Ha!)

Bone graphic novels–Victoria and Thad BOTH love these

Calvin and Hobbes– obviously comics, but high level humor and just excellent. . .especially for him to read by himself. Thad will just sit in a chair in the living room and read these sometimes.

Harry Potter series if he’s not read them. WAY BETTER than the movies. These are also great to listen to on cd.


3 thoughts on “Good Books for Boys and the People who Love Them

  1. What a great list! I have two boys, ages 14 and 11, and they have read several of these books: Holes, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Dangerous Book for Boys, and The Harry Potter Series. They also love the humor of Calvin and Hobbes. The Cay is required reading in fifth grade at our elememtary school and all of my kids (including my daughter) have enjoyed that book.

    I think I’ll recommend Hatchet, Red Dog, and Ghost Soldier to them for some summer reading. Thanks!

  2. I love all of these recommendations and I’m going to show this to all my girlfriends with sons. They are constantly looking for good books for their boys.

  3. Carolyn

    Perfect timing since I see my grandson of this age in a few days. We can stop at the book store before we leave! Thanks so much for this list!

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