Boys and Reading

Boys identify with the men in their lives and males, in general, don’t read as many books as women. One study shows that mothers are ten times more likely to read books than fathers. On the other hand, fathers are ten times more likely to read newspapers than mothers.

Developmental reasons: Boys often view the world as a place filled with rules and tools, and their job is to understand how it works in order to get things done. Newspapers, how-to manuals, and other brief informative texts fill this need. Michael Gurian, author of Boys and Girls Learn Differently, writes that boys’ brains engage in less cross-hemisphere activity than girls. When boys read, then, they need sound, color, motion or some physical stimulation to get engaged. As with all young readers, it is essential to encourage boys to read below their grade level to help build skills, fluency and a sense of accomplishment. If reading is always a struggle and chore, boys will avoid it.


Comics: One of the most time-tested, enthralling kinds of reading material for boys, with startlingly high vocabulary levels. (Even Donald Duck comics are renowned for vocabulary like “bouillabaisse” and “frenetic.”) Graphic Novels: What is a graphic novel? It is a term used to describe a book written and illustrated in the style of a comic book, but it resembles a novel in length and narrative development. It is sequential art that tells a story; it can be wordless or replete with written language. There is a growing body of graphic novels written for children that are wildly popular, and ongoing research indicates it is a promising path toward reading via visual literacy with its emphasis on understanding the nuances of visual images as symbols. An art history elective or a computer class on web design might address some of the organization of nonlinear information, but not every student gets those opportunities. In a graphic novel, the artist must convey as much information as possible in a limited amount of space, and no pencil stroke is accidental. Metaphor, allusion, and other literary devices abound. Children who read graphic novels become attuned to detail as they make mental connections between panels. They become better readers.

Magazines: Magazines, in addition to speaking to particular interests make it easy for the reluctant reader: he can commit to one article at a time, one sidebar at a time and enjoy captions explaining lots of exciting graphics. Series Books: Series books can support a reader who doesn’t want to start over with new characters and settings. In addition to the familiar Hardy Boys, popular series include A Series of Unfortunate Events, Encyclopedia Brown and The Spiderwick Chronicles. Nonfiction: The array of compelling nonfiction books available today is dazzling. The Eyewitness series, optical illusions, great disasters, how-to books, “Believe It or Not” trivia, scientific goofs, “Horrible History” series, and sports biographies are great ideas. Boys also enjoy funny illustrated poetry books by such poets as Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein, as well as riddle and joke books.

Kinds of reading that adults endorse: Boys often like baseball cards, comic books, graphic novels, cartoon compilations, sports and adventure stories, fantasy and nonfiction, broad humor, and scary stories. They like plot and action. Adults tend to emphasize books that foster internal reflection, character development and relationships, approaches that appeal to the way girls think. We adults are also less respectful of boys’ reading preferences, and if boy-friendly books rarely show up when we discuss “good” books, boys will notice the omission and come to believe that the kinds of books they like are substandard. Although boys need to read “good literature,” we must remember that if boys read loads of the kinds of writing that speaks to them, they are much more like to become readers of other kinds of literature over time.

Picture Books and Chapter Books for Boys ages 5-8 (Many will appeal to older boys too)

Allard, Harry. The Stupids.

Cronin, Doreen. The Diary of a Spider.

Dahl, Roald. The Minpins. The Enormous Crocodile.

Denim, Sue. (a pseudonym) The Dumb Bunnies series.

Egan, Tim. Dodsworth in New York.

Scieszka, Jon. The Stinky Cheese Man. Baloney. The True Story of the 3 Pigs.

Shannon, David. No David! and sequels.

Wiesner, David. The Three Pigs.

Van Allsburg, Chris. Jumanji.

Viorst, Judith. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Watt, Melanie. Scaredy Squirrel.

Chapter Books

Dahl, Roald. The Fantastic Mr. Fox. James and the Giant Peach.

Gannett, Ruth Stiles. My Father's Dragon & 2 sequels.

Suggested Novels for Boys ages 7-10:

Avi. Poppy (Dimwood Forest series).

Black, Holly. The Spiderwick Chronicles.

Blume, Judy. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Fudge and sequels.

Cameron, Ann. The Stories Julian Tells and sequels.

Christopher, Matt. any of his 160+ titles on sports

Coville, Bruce. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. The Monster's Ring. Dragon of Doom. The Evil Elves.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy.

Dahl, Roald. George's Marvelous Medicine. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Doyle, Roddy. The Giggler Treatment.

Gardiner, John Reynolds. The Stone Fox.

George, Jean Craighead. My Side of the Mountain.

Gutman, Dan. Baseball Card Adventure Series.

Hale, Bruce. Chet Gecko series.

Kipling, Rudyard. Rikki Tikki Tavi.

Korman, Gordon. Nose Pickers from Outer Space.

Myers, Walter Dean. Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam.

Pilkey, Dav. Captain Underpants series.

Pinkwater, Daniel. Werewolf Club series. Fat Men From Space. Rodda, Emily. Rowan of Rin series.

Roy, Ron. A to Z Mysteries.

Sachar, Louis. Wayside School series. Marvin Redpost series.

Schwartz, Alvin. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Sequels.

Scieszka, Jon. Time Warp Trio series.

Smith, Robert Kimmel. Chocolate Fever.

Sobol, Donald. Encyclopedia Brown series.

Whybrow, Ian. Little Wolf’s Book of Badness. Sequels. Suggested Novels for

Boys ages 9-12:

Avi. Crispin: The Cross of Lead. Perloo the Bold. Many other titles.

Bruchac, Joseph. Skeleton Man.

Christopher, John. The Tripods Trilogy.

Clements, Andrew. A Week in the Woods. Frindle. Janitor’s Boy.

Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl series.

Coville, Bruce. The Skull of Truth. Aliens Ate My Homework. Many other titles. Cowell, Cressida. How To Train Your Dragon.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963.

Dahl, Roald. Danny the Champion of the World.

DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember.

Fields, Terri. Danger in the Desert.

Fitzgerald, John D. The Great Brain and sequels.

Fleischman, Sid. The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story.

Funke, Cornelia. The Thief Lord.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline.

Gantos, Jack. Joey Pigza series.

Griffiths, Andy. The Day My Butt Went Psycho. Sequels.

Hahn, Mary Downing. Dead Man in Indian Creek.

Hiaasen, Carl. Hoot. Flush.

Hobbes, Will. Far North, many other titles.

Jacques, Brian. Redwall series.

Klise, Kate. Letters from Camp.

Korman, Gordon. The Island series. Everest series. No More Dead Dogs. This Can’t Be Happening at McDonald Hall. The Chicken Doesn’t Skate. Lawrence, Ian. The Wreckers.

Morey, Walt. Gentle Ben. Kavik the Wolf Dog.

Morpurgo, Michael. Kensuke’s Kingdom.

Morris, Gerald. The Squire’s Tale. Sequels.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Shiloh.

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet and sequels, many other titles.

Paolini, Christopher. Eragon and sequels.

Roberts, Willo Davis. Hostage. Scared Stiff. The Kidnappers. The View From the Cherry Tree.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter series.

Sachar, Louis. Holes. There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom.

Shan, Darren. Cirque du Freak.

Snicket, Lemony. A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Spinelli, Jerry. Maniac Magee. Crash. Wringer.

Taylor, Theodore. The Cay.

Van Draanen, Wendelyn. Swear to Howdy.

Nonfiction for Lots of Ages

Masoff, Joy. Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty.

Gr 2-8.

Solheim, James. It's Disgusting and We Ate It! True Food Facts from Around the World and Throughout History.

Gr. 3-6.

Series: Wicked History, assorted authors. Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count Dracula. Mary Tudor: Courageous Queen or Bloody Mary. Ivan the Terrible: Tsar of Death. Genghis Kahn: 13th Century Tyrant. Grigory Rasputin: Holy Man or Mad Monk? Robespierre: Master of the Guillotine.

Gr. 5-8. Series: 24/7 Science Behind the Scenes: Forensic Files, assorted authors. Gut Eating Bugs: Maggots Reveal the Time of Death! Killer Wallpaper: True Cases of Deadly Poisonings Toe Tagged: True Stories from the Morgue. Bullet Proof: The Evidence that Guns Leave Behind. Shot and Framed: Photographers at the Crime Scene. Many others. Gr. 4-8.

Source: Paideia School Elementary Library