It’s been a few years since we’ve updated the Books for Boys list, so we’ve upgraded just in time for the summer.
A few thoughts about the list:
- All books listed would be equally enjoyed by girls. A good book is a good book. However, girls tend to read a wider variety of stories than do boys. Hence, this book list was born. Consider it a subset of great books rather than a separate list.
- Reading level and maturity varies greatly from child to child. The age guidelines are approximate. Many younger children may be ready to read books that appear on the older kids’ list, while some big kids may need to read easier books in order to build confidence and fluency.
- Many of the books I’ve suggested are out of print. However, you can find them fairly easily at addall.com, which is a virtual clearinghouse for used books. I’ve also stumbled upon great finds at ebay.
- To read more of the heart behind the list (and why what our boys read really does matter), read here: Books for Boys: Why it Matters
Leonardo da Vinci by Paolo Cardoni – Stories of unusual children who changed the world.
Sam’s Cookie (series) by Barbro Lindgren
One of my personal favorites for my Sam. If a two-year-old could write books about his life, this would be the product.
Billy and Blaze (series) by C. W. Anderson
A boy and his adventures with his horse. Beautiful illustrations.
Alfie and Annie Rose (series) by Shirley Hughes
Everyday life of a little boy and his toddler sister.
The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
Giants, Indeed! by Virginia Kahl
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
King Arthur (series of 3) by Hudson Talbott
The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame
Sammy and The Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Rocket by Peter Newell
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
A note about books for those new to (or hesitant to) reading: Reading fluently and confidently takes practice. For those who are hesitant, the goal is to build familiarity with the characters and storyline, so the child doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
Dan Frontier by William Hurley
Probably the most iconic books from my boys’ early years. Although out of print, they are worth the hunt. The first book in the series, Dan Frontier, is written with few words and a large illustration on each page. As the series continues, there is a slow progression to smaller (and more) words on each page, and fewer illustrations. Readers become familiar with the characters and storyline, so they are less intimidated as the reading becomes more challenging. I should note that my son read a rather comprehensive biography on Daniel Boone, and Dan Frontier had strikingly similar friends and adventures. The Dan Frontier series provides plenty of exciting adventure and action. It may be my favorite.
Jim Forest by John and Nancy Rambeau
A close second to Dan Frontier in our house. Titles like Jim Forest and the Bandit and Jim Forest and Dead Man’s Peak live up to their adventurous names.
Engine Whistles, Singing Wheels and all other Alice and Jerry Books
These readers are out of print but easy to find online. They illustrations are gorgeous and the stories engaging.
A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy
If you’re familiar with the writings of Makoto Fujimura or Andy Crouch, Kate Seredy distills their messages on “Culture Care” and “Common Good” into a beautiful, poignant picture book. (As an aside, I highly recommend Refractions and Culture Making as significant reading for parents.) Anything written by Kate Seredy is worth reading and owning.
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Because we all need to know that we’re part of a much bigger story. Every child (age 9-90) should have a copy of this book.
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Gannett
The Fabulous Flight by Robert Lawson
Cowboy Sam (series) by Edna W. Chandler
The Deep Sea Adventure Series by Coleman, Berres, Hewett and Briscoe
Animal Stories by Thorton Burgess
Little Eddie (series – early chapter books) by Carolyn Haywood
Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton
A delightful new book full of magic and adventure. Giddyup and order before it’s out of stock. Again.
The Wilderking Trilogy & The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers
The trilogy is a great read-aloud for younger children or independent reading for older kids. The Charlatan’s Boy was one of my personal favorite books read last year. The characters have become ingrained in our family culture. If anything goes wrong or missing – a feechie did it for sure.
The Green Ember (series) by S.D. Smith
Accurately described as “A new story with an old soul.” This is a beautiful book full of danger, courage, and the power of hope. And who doesn’t love rabbits with swords?
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson – Don’t miss this one. A family favorite.
Match Wits with Sherlock Holmes (series) adapted by Murray Shaw
Rick Brandt Electronic Adventures (series) by John Blaine
For your techno-boys.
Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit
One of our favorites. Everything by Nesbit is worthy of reading, and of reading aloud as a family. She was the first author to bring fantasy into the everyday life of children (rather than children leaving our world to escape into fantasy). Incredibly well written and delightful stories. A favorite of C.S. Lewis. Any book written by Edith Nesbit is worth owning – in hardback.
The Enchanted Castle
Five Children and It
100 Cupboards (series) by N.D. Wilson
I’ve been significantly impacted by Wilson’s book, Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl (if you haven’t read it yet, you should), and was delighted to learn that he had a series of books that my boys could read. Wilson masterfully explores the nature of good and evil throughout his books (I’m holding off on my 9-year-old reading them until she’s a bit older) – ancient truths wrapped in great story. We’ve become bona fide N.D. Wilson fans.
Outlaws of Time
Tom Swift (series) by Victor Appleton
Imagine James Bond – 007 written for children. Swift uses science, technology and adventure to save the day.
Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things by Cy Tymony
Amazing, really. Many a contraption in my house was conceived here.
Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction by John Austin
Learn to build Shoelace Darts, Clothespin Catapult, Penny Bombs, Airsoft Pen Poppers, Ping Pong Zookas, and more.
Teddy’s Button by Amy Le Feuvre
Perhaps the best explanation of the battle between good and evil that rages within all of us. Powerful message for adults as well as children. Grace embodied.
Freddy the Pig (series) by Water Brooks
One of my favorite series. Great to read aloud as a family or individually. Freddy the Detective is at the top of our list.
Little Britches (series) by Ralph Moody
If you’re looking for a father/son read-aloud, look no further. My husband has read through most of this series with the boys, and he’s enjoyed them as much (or more) than they have.
Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
Don’t let the title fool you – great for boys. We’ll read this one again and again in the years to come.
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
An amazing true story from WW2
A Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Rascal by Sterling North
When the Tripods Came (series) by Lloyd Christopher
The Wonderful Flight of the Mushroom Planet (series) by Eleanor Cameron
Swallows and Amazons (series) by Arthur Ransome
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
Chapter Books ages 13 +
Fiddler’s Gun and Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson
Fiddler’s Gun has been one of my favorite reads this summer – full of adventure and heart. Due to the accurate portrayal of life, events, and language that took place during the Revolutionary War (and on pirate ships), these books are recommended for those over thirteen
Auralia’s Colors (series) by Jeffrey Overstreet
We just discovered this series, and my son insisted that it be added to the list. He described the books as a cross between the Susan Cooper and Lloyd Alexander novels. You can read Overstreet’s thought-provoking piece on “Christian” fantasy here.
Seven Men: And Their Secret of Greatness by Eric Metaxas
I’m so grateful for this book. Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, explores the lives of seven influential men. Their stories are different, yet each man’s life is marked by heroic, sacrificial service on behalf of others. If we want to fill our boys’ minds with stories that inspire, Seven Men is a great start. This is a perfect gift for sons, dads, and grandfathers.
Ashtown Burials by N.D. Wilson
My son advised me that this could easily be on the younger “Chapter Books” list – You make the call. My kids love all of Wilson’s books – both on paper and on audiobook.
Shiloh (series) by Helena Sorenson
These books have been read and re-read by my pickiest readers.
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
The Hornblower Saga by C.S. Forester
The 39 Steps by John Buchan
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
The Black Pearl by Scott O’Dell
No Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt
Father Brown: The Essential Tales by GK Chesterton
Dune by Frank Herbert
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
One of my personal favorites. It gets better every time.
Longitude by Dava Sobel
The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Dark is Rising (series) by Susan Cooper
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Unbroken by Laura Hilderbrand
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Illustrated Junior Library
In addition to the tiles listed above, I’d highly suggest beginning to collect (and read) the large selection of classics from the Illustrated Junior Library. Although you can find plenty of these books online, it’s worth your time to peruse used bookshops to find many of the out-of-print titles.
For the benefit of those reading behind you –
What are your favorite books for boys?