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Friday, December 7, 2018

Books for Boys

This list was largely compiled 20 years ago, in one afternoon, by roaming through my house and copying titles off of bookcases. Of course, many girls would love most of these too. At the time I originally compiled this list I was hearing a lot of mothers saying that of course boys did not like to read, and that there were not many good ‘boy books’ out there. So I went through my existing shelves and copied the titles of a few of the ones I thought might tempt even boys who had been permitted to believe reading was a ‘female’ activity.=)
I sometimes give rough guidelines to the complexity of the reading level so parents don’t overwhelm a child and make him hate a book which is too hard for him to read just yet. It’s just a tool. This list spans read alouds suitable for all ages, to a couple books for first graders to books of most interest in high school.  Use your own discretion.
Grade levels are arbitrary, in other words, and not intended to be taken too seriously.
I list them in no particular order or arrangement::

Sterling North's books (we have Rascal and The Wolfing:)- I'm thinking these are probably for at least 4th grade and up as far as reading level.  Maybe 3rd and up for Wolfing. Rascal is the true story of how the author and his family raised a raccoon.  The Wolfling is a fictionalized account of a boy who raises a wolf cub, and there are some elements in it from the author’s life.  Set in Wisconsin in the 1870s. There is also a real life historical figure, the Swedish-American naturalist Thure Kumlien, who befriends the boy and teaches him how to care for his wolf cub.
North also wrote So Dear To My Heart, but this is one book where I totally prefer the Disney movie with Burl Ives- So Dear To My Heart.
Keith Robertson’s Henry Reed Books, probably for boys of about 2nd to 5th grade to read independently. Fun read alouds for younger lads as well.

The Swiss Family Robinson- Strong, believing parents, active boys. These stories began as bedtime stories Pastor Wyss told to his sons, so he incorporated many lessons for his boys into the stories- these include moral and character building lessons as well as lessons on science and nature. The Swiss Family Robinson or, Adventures on a Desert Island is also available as a free Kindle version.  This is a great family read aloud.  It could probably be read by advanced readers from about the 4th grade on, but it would not be too childish for middle schoolers.

Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and his science fiction trilogy (the trilogy for much older students- possibly teens- again, magic will render these unacceptable to some)

Trumpteter of Krakow, Poland in the middle ages, adventure, duty, etc.

Mark Twain's books, some of them,
especially The Adventures of Tom SawyerThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Tom Sawyer’s Comrade (both of these last two links are to a free Kindle version).

Rudyard Kipling's adventure stories- Kim, for example 
 I love this story of the lively little orphan Irish boy and 3rd culture kid who endears himself to nearly everybody he meets.  Also The Jungle Book with Mowgli, Bagheera, and all the rest. The original is not the Disney version.  Our oldest son-inlaw read this aloud to our oldest grandchild when he was just three (but he’s gifted), and Captains Courageous, a great boy story about a spoiled rich boy who learns to be a man and his shallow parents who learn to love their son. Plus sailors and fishing boats.  In general I would say these are readable for boys about fifth grade and up.

Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle, almost anything else by him.

The Good Master, and other books by Kate Seredy.  The Chestry Oak is a huge favorite at our house.

The Phanton Tollbooth, by Juster (this is a really fun book, but it's
very hard to explain. There is some magic, but I really think it might
be acceptable to many who don't ordinarily care for magic- most of the
'magic' is really a play on words. There's a mathemagician who rules
the kingdom of numbers, a 'which' named Faintly Macabre whose job is
to help people choose the right word, there are demons such as the demon
of insincerity, the horrible hopping two faced gorgon... do check it out)

Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure stories (the Black Arrow, the Master of Ballantrae..): The Black ArrowTreasure IslandThe Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale Kidnapped 

Jules Verne's books

The White MountainsWhen the Tripods CameThe City of Gold and Lead,
and The Pool of Fire by John Christopher- these books are science
fiction and tell the story of earth conquered by strange aliens, and
how a group of resistance fighters discover the alien's weakness and use it to overthrow them and regain control of earth-the resistance
fighters are boys;-) I love these books, especially When the Tripods
Came. **I do not like other books written by the same author***, but
this series is different and a great read for the science fiction
reader. Probably about sixth grade and up reading level. Good stuff
about freedom, liberty, responsibility, clear thinking.

The Dog of Flanders, by ouida

Other dog books by Terhune or Kjelgard (probably misspelling his name)

My Friend Flicka, a horse book

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (magic content makes these
unacceptable to some), these are witty and funny, and do not take themselves too seriously.  Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper is just sure he is meant for bigger, braver, better things, and perhaps he is, but he is learning that being a hero is sometimes a scary thing that carries a lot of responsibility and tasks like cleaning the pig pen.

Gift from the Mikado, by Fleming (this was a fantastic booksale find.
It is the, I believe true, story of a missionary family to Japan at
the turn of the century. The story focuses on two brothers and their
father, and was just a delightful read)

The Great Brain books, by fitzgerald (The Great Brain is a money
grubbing, arrogant and very, very bright young man, and some may not
like these books. We think they're funny)

Sugar Creek Gang books (a series, and with all the shortcomings of a
series, but better written than most, and the characters rely on God)

The Giant, by Dubois (fun story of a giant baby, sounds odd, but it's
cute and the baby is a boy who loves to play with real cars just like
matchbox cars)

Jean Craighead George's Far Side of the Mountain books

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Illustrated) tales of logic which encourage readers to use their brains. Also The White Company

The Gammage Cup, by Kendall (this one is also hard to explain. IT's
sort of fantasy and sort of science fiction, and awfully fun. Not everyone
will like it, but those that do will probably love it. I think maybe
4th grade and above reading level, The sequel as well).

Gentle Ben and other books by Walt Morey

Encyclopedia Brown books, by Sobol (another series, not for everybody,
but good for helping children think. Perhaps 2nd -5th grade?)

Eleanor Estes has written a lot of good books, some of which appeal
to girls than boys, but others appeal to boys too. We have the
Tunnel of Hugsy Goode, but there are others boys will like.

The Pushcart War, by Merrill (neat story of how pushcart businesses
stand out against giant industry- sounds odd, but it's really an
exciting story and lots of fun. You gotta read it;-))

Books by Clyde Bulla

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (fantasy/science fiction) and sequels, but this one is the best.

The Matchlock Gun

Tolkien's series (magic will be unacceptable to many)

The Thousand and One Nights and other myths and fairy tales (I'm
thinking especially of Sinbad)- magic content may be unacceptable to

And Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series- these are terrific
fun, especially for any kids interested at all in sailing, but
to all little boys (and big ones, and girls, too) who love adventure.
He wrote in the beginning of this century, I believe, so the children
have much more freedom than we could allow our children today to

 Bears of Blue River- my grandfather introduced us to this when I was a child and I loved it, but mostly my girls did not.  My son, however, was delighted with it.

The Redwall books are very popular, but there came a time when I grew heartily sick of them and had had to make a rule that my son must read something else in between Redwall books.

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, probably most fun for boys about 2-4th grade.
The Moomintroll books are fun.
The Adventures of Tin Tin are comic books, or graphic novels, older, and great fun, especially useful for boys who think they do not like to read.

A Toad for Tuesday, and other Morton and Warton books are good for early readers.
Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys, which is less well know- both are lovely, although Where the Red Fern Grows is a tear jerker. Summer of the Monkeys is a beautiful tale of a brother whose little sister is handicapped and how he learns to love and give sacrificially. Love the big brother element of this tale.
The American Civil War is often a period of much interest to boys (and to girls who love horses):
Across Five Aprils
Colonel Red Reeder  titles (he’s the author)
Some of books in the Landmark series
Albert Marrin’s Biographies of Lee, Grant, Lincoln in particular.
Some people recommend Henty books.  I think a little goes a long way.  They are all very similar, so I wouldn't read a bunch in a row.  I actively detest a couple of them.

Ender's Game and others- probably middle school or high school and up.

Robert Heinlein's juveniles. I consider his adult tales mostly too spicy. I especially enjoyed The Space Robinsons and my son laughed out loud at the account of the twins trying to buy a space-ship.

4. Rosemary Sutcliffe’s historical fiction– here are just a few random titles in no particular order. I don’t think she wrote a dud.
5. The Little Britches books by Ralph Moody. These do occasionally have ‘language’ in them, but I do not think it’s gratuitous.
Mary Emma & Company (Bison Book)
Don’t be put off by the female name in the title.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s White Company.
Most people know Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and I do recommend him), but fewer are aware of the delightful The White Company, which Sir Arthur himself preferred. It’s historical fiction set in the days of chivalry. This is technically volume 2, but I prefer this one, and the story does stand on its own.
When published in 1891, The White Company became Britain’s best-selling book since Ivanhoe, surpassing A Tale of Two Cities, Treasure Island, and other literary giants.
Barbara Willard’s historical fiction:
and others=)

 G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories– kinder and gentler than Sherlock HOlmes and not at all bashful about faith
THE COMPLETE FATHER BROWN MYSTERIES COLLECTION [Annotated] (Complete Works of G.K. Chesterton)
(these are not complete, I don’t believe, but it’s a start)

 The adventure tales of John Buchan. These are early 20th century, and I enjoy them, but when race is mentioned, I am not comfortable at all with Buchan’s approach. I am not sure I could read all of these aloud to our Little Boys, who are black and biracial.
I also like Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Illustrated Man, but they need more careful previewing by the parent who cares about that sort of thing. Dandelion Wine is not sci-fi or fantasy, which is more what Bradbury is known for, but it is an excellently written tale of a 12 year old boy and his summer. That may not sound all that fascinating, but it’s Ray Bradbury, yo.
Of course, his Fahrenheit 451: A Novel is must reading as well.

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