The countdown to Christmas is getting shorter! Just a limited time left to find that perfect something for that special someone. Have you considered a book? Read on! :-)
I’m in the middle of a series about giving books as gifts; if you haven’t been here before you may want to check out the previous installments. In the first post in the series I gave reasons why it’s great to give books as gifts; then there was a post about books to give to toddler- through early elementary-age children, and the post just previous to this one was my list of book picks for later elementary through junior high girls. Today we’re looking at good books for boys of the same age; then next time, which will be the last installment, I’m going to give a list of books for the teens in your life.
Boys can be tough to find books for. Girls of this age are not as picky; in fact, all the books on this list would be great for girls, too. Unfortunately, the same is not generally true in reverse — lol! All of the books below are boy-certified, however. Many of them were recommended to me by my own boy as I was compiling this list. They might even be good enough to get that reluctant reader of yours into a book for the first time in awhile! :-)
My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George. This story is one I enjoyed as a girl. Sam runs away to the woods and lives there for awhile; the reader follows along as he learns to provide for his own food and shelter. It is written in diary form, with illustrations showing the plants he used and some diagrams to show how he made his tools. It’s quite fascinating — and don’t worry (spoiler alert), the family is reunited in the end.
The Thief series, by Megan Whalen Turner. You could call this a heist novel for kids! But it’s more than that; characterization and setting play a part in making this an absolutely riveting read. All of my children have read this series over and over, even though they already know about the surprises along the way.
The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare. This book takes place during the time of Christ. The main character is a boy whose life is affected by his encounters with Jesus. The author is the same who wrote The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which I recommended on the list for girls, and anything by her is well-written historical fiction. This one may appeal more to the boys on your gift list, however.
The Squire’s Tale series, by Gerald Morris. This thoroughly fun series is set within the adventures of King Arthur and his knights. Terrence is the squire to Gawain, and as such he partakes in the adventures and finds out about his own destiny. These books are laced with humor and move quickly, so they would be great for a reluctant reader. (Caveat: this series is probably more appropriate for junior-high boys; I am not comfortable fully recommending it for the 8-10 year-old range. Again, as I stated in the introduction to this series, every parent must use their judgment about the maturity and reading level of their child.)
All of the Hank the Cowdog books, by John R. Erickson. Any of these would make a suitable first chapter book for a learning reader. They are laugh-out-loud funny, even for adults! Better yet, they are not very long, and there are LOTS of them — so you could milk this one for many gift-giving occasions to come. :-)
The Chronicles of Narnia, starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. These are legitimate classics, and the old maxim applies that the books are better than the movies, in my humble opinion. :-) Join the four Pevensie children as they discover another world by accident and become royalty there. Each book can stand alone, but reading them all is a treat.
The Chronicles of Prydain, starting with The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander. Another excellent series, this one about a person of humble background who goes on to save the world. Taran, a pig-keeper, sets out on a quest and vanquishes the foe while staying true to himself. The fictional land of Prydain is rendered convincingly and the relationships between the characters are heart-warming.
Jungle Pilot, by Russell T. Hitt. This is the biography of Nate Saint, who was a missionary killed in Ecuador in the 1950’s. He was there with Jim Elliot, whose name is more well-known. Nate was the MAF pilot who worked on that team, who flew the group in and out to the area that they were evangelizing. He was a bit of an inventor, and this book is a very interesting read.
Any of the Henry Reed books, starting with Henry Reed, Inc., by Keith Robertson. Henry is a lovable character surrounded by lovable characters. He always has something going on, and reading about his plans and pursuits amidst simpler times is definitely entertaining! As a side note, these books were illustrated by Robert McCloskey of Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal fame.
Follow My Leader, by James B. Garfield. This was one of my FAVORITE books as a kid. Jimmy — I think he’s around 12-13 years old — gets blinded due to a firecracker incident. He has to learn how to live with this challenge, and he even gets to go to guide dog school, where he meets his canine helper, Leader. I was always fascinated by the detail in this book about the training process between the blind and their dogs, and Jimmy’s character development is realistic and encouraging.
For the first time in this series there are some books on the list that are more recent. Maybe because it was only relatively recently that I was forced to find books that would be good for my son to read — not being a boy myself, lol, and having three girls before he came along… But I have read them all and can vouch for their being well-written and fun. It really IS tough to narrow down any list like this to just 10; there are SO MANY good books out there. I know I’ve missed some great ones.
For more great book recommendations for boys of this age, check out Michelle Caskey’s list of 30 Recommended Books for Tweens at Homeschool Your Boys. Hers are probably published more recently than mine!
Got the books, but not sure how to get your son to read them? Here’s how we did it: How to Encourage Your Child to Love Reading.
Don’t give up on reading for your boys. Giving them the gift of reading gives them imagination and education for the rest of their lives. It’s worth it!