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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 10 times more 
likely to read books than fathers.   On the other hand, fathers are 10 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 a chore, boys will avoid it.  

• 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.  

Reading Suggestions

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 (cars, 
astronomy, music, sports, fishing and camping, etc.), 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.


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 
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.  (One of the few 
great chapter books for this age.

Suggested Novels for Boys ages 7-10:

Amato, Mary.	
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 
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 
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