With recent research showing a nationwide trend of boys lagging behind girls in reading at increasing rates, this English professor/mother has made it her mission to raise her two boys with a deep love of reading and books. Here are a few books that, in my experience, can entice even the most reluctant readers.
And here's a tip for dealing with reluctant readers: Don't say anything like "Here's a book you might want to read. I heard it was awesome." Where is the adventure in that? Rather, leave the book or books laying about or even partially hidden somewhere in the house and let the boy "discover" the book. You might want to even leave a flashlight and snacks nearby.
by Julia Donaldson
There's no such thing as a Gruffalo... or is there? The story, illustrations and rhyming cadence in this picture book are enough to capture the heart of a 3-year-old. The cunning cleverness of the mouse (the hunted), as he outsmarts much fiercer animals, is enough to capture the hearts of much older readers. This one is guaranteed to be read until it's in tatters.
by Chris Van Allsburg
A picture book that will win over even the toughest audience of six- and seven-year-old boys. A brother and sister find what looks like an ordinary board game, but soon find out that it's anything but ordinary. Each roll of the dice is filled with suspense, adventure, and excitement.
by Judy Blume
There's envy for freckles... a mean, conniving classmate/swindler (let's face it, they exist)... a disgusting recipe for "freckle juice"... and a message about accepting who you are. This book — Judy Blume's funny tale of the lengths to which one boy goes to get freckles — continues to be a winner. Its authenticity continues to be its finest quality.
by Judy Blume
Peter has no choice but to put up with his often troublesome and annoying little brother, Farley a.k.a. Fudge. This book chronicles his angst. Once again Judy Blume understands the heart and soul of siblings and kids, making this 30 -year-old book timeless.
by Andy Runton
For a reluctant reader, this book is ideal. It's mostly word free. Essentially, Owly is a children's graphic novel. Research indicates that parents are purchasing fewer "picture" books, focusing on more advanced chapter books for their children. For shame. That may be one surefire way to turn some boys off reading. Graphic novels (and picture books) often tell complex stories in images, requiring the use of higher order decoding, deductions, and analysis skills. Even I kept turning the pages until I found out what happened in this one.
by Thomas Rockwell
Eww. Fried worms. Gross. Eat 15 worms in 15 days for $50. I distinctly remember thinking this was the most disgusting thing I'd ever read as a young girl, but I could not resist reading it. Was he going to do it? Eat the worms? Whether boy or girl, one just has to know.
by Shel Silverstein
I've never outgrown Shel Silverstein's poetry. My son regularly chooses to read Silverstein's books of poetry voluntarily. Sometimes you don't want to read a chapter book. Some days it's just too much of a commitment. Poetry is different — it's tiny morsels to savor. These are short, completely kid-friendly, and funny. Shel Silverstein has a wonderful writing style and his books of poetry are winners. This one is the first, but there are others. Get them all.
by Dav Pilkey
This is another graphic novel. There are (purposely) misspelled words and grammar errors in the minimal words used. As an English educator, I cringed a little. Okay, I cringed a lot. That said, Dav Pilkey didn't write this book for me. He wrote it for little boys, and I have yet to meet one, who doesn't laugh himself silly reading it. There's a method to Pilkey's madness. He can engage young boys, give them reading confidence, and foster a love of reading. He has my vote.
by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca
I believe this series is still being written. I would imagine there must be an end in sight, but they are up to #45 now. Your reader may tire of them or outgrow them before he gets to read them all. That's a good thing. These are stories that you can start off reading to a four-year-old that he'll then gladly reread himself, when he is five, six, or seven. These are also great early chapter books about the simple but exciting adventures of Jack and Annie, a brother and sister who discovered a magic tree house that transports them to exciting places and times to solve mysteries.
by Kate Mcmullan, illustrated by Bill Basso
These books tell adventures of wizardry and magic in the spirit of Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, but for younger readers. These books easily captivate the imagination of many kids, especially boys.
by Jeff Kinney
While standing in line with my son, while we waited for his class to go in to school, someone gave him the "cheese touch." Not the cheese touch! He gave it to a little girl, who looked quite upset. I volunteered to let her give it to me and I brought it home. The kids were hysterical. I know some of them learned about the "cheese touch" from watching the movie, but my son learned about it first from reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Kids probably should not miss out on this one because of the soon-to-be permanent cultural references. Written in diary format with drawings, the story deals with one boy's struggle to be "cool" and climb the social ladder in middle school.
This is a silly book of how to do and survive certain things that will equip any boy for a life of adventure. It's good to know how to slay a werewolf and tackle a Komodo dragon. That information might come in handy someday, if you're an adventurer. Written in short, randomly ordered "chapters," it's great for a quick and easy type of read.
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Trina O'Gorman
Trina is an adjunct English professor, freelance writer and lifelong book lover from New Jersey. She's mother to two boys who are currently discovering the many joys of reading. She blogs at An Old Flame...
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