Books for Boys: A Show and Tell (updated)

Finding a great book is like striking gold, yet discovering such a treasure rarely happens by accident. We need a plan. Take a few minutes to read the “why” behind the plan – Books for Boys: Why it Matters. Happy mining.

 

Picture Books

Mr. Small (series) by Lois Lenski
The Little Airplane
The Little Fire Engine 

Leonardo da Vinci by Paolo Cardoni – Stories of unusual children who changed the world.
Pablo Picasso
Amadeus Mozart
Albert Einstein 

Sam’s Cookie (series) by Barbro Lindgren – One of my personal favorites for my Sam. If a two-year-old could write books about his life, this would be the product.

Dr. De Soto by William Steig – So very fun and clever – for grownups as well.
Yellow and Pink 
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
The Amazing Bone 

Billy and Blaze (series) by C. W. Anderson – A boy and his adventures with his horse. Beautiful illustrations.

Alphie and Annie Rose (series) by Shirley Hughes – Everyday life of a little boy and his toddler sister.

Giants, Indeed! by Virginia Kahl

King Arthur (series of 3) by Michael Talbot

The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame

Sammy and The Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Owl Moonby Jane Yolen

 

Early Readers

A note about books for those new to (or hesitant to) reading:  Reading fluently and confidently takes practice. For those who are hesitant, the goal is to build familiarity with the characters and storyline, so the child doesn’t feel overwhelmed.  

The early books in this series have big pictures and few words

From a later book – Dan Frontier Goes to Congress. Words become smaller and reading difficulty increases.

Dan Frontier by William Hurley- Probably the most iconic books from my boys’ early years. Although out of print, they are worth the hunt. The first book in the series, Dan Frontier, is written with few words and a large illustration on each page. As the series continues, there is a slow progression to smaller (and more) words on each page, and fewer illustrations. Readers become familiar with the characters and storyline, so they are less intimidated as the reading becomes more challenging. I should note that my son read a rather comprehensive biography on Daniel Boone, and Dan Frontier had strikingly similar friends and adventures. The Dan Frontier series provides plenty of exciting adventure and action. It may be my favorite.

Jim Forest by John and Nancy Rambeau – A close second to Dan Frontier in our house. Titles like Jim Forest and the Bandit and Jim Forest and Dead Man’s Peak live up to their adventurous names.

A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy – I was hesitant to add this book to the list because it is out of print and hard to find (and yes, expensive). But in the event that you stumble upon A Tree for Peter at a used book store or on ebay, by all means, purchase at once. If you’re familiar with the writings of Makoto Fujimura or Andy Crouch, Kate Seredy distills their messages on “Culture Care” and “Common Good” into a beautiful, poignant picture book. (As an aside, I highly recommend Refractions and Culture Making as significant reading for parents.)

Cowboy Sam (series) by Edna W. Chandler

The Deep Sea Adventure Series by Coleman, Berres, Hewett and Briscoe

The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla
A Lion to Guard Us
Viking Adventure
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims

Animal Stories by Thorton Burgess

Little Eddie (series – early chapter books) by Carolyn Haywood

Many of the Early Readers listed are out of print. However, you can find them fairly easily at addall.com, which is a virtual clearinghouse for used books. I’ve also stumbled upon great finds at ebay.

 

Chapter Books

freddythedetective

Rick Brandt Electronic Adventures (series) by John Blaine – For your techno-boys.

Match Wits with Sherlock Holmes (series) adapted by Murray Shaw

The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit – One of our favorites. Everything by Nesbit is worthy of reading, and of reading aloud as a family. She was the first author to bring fantasy into the everyday life of children (rather than children leaving our world to escape into fantasy). Incredibly well written and delightful stories. A favorite of C.S. Lewis.
The Enchanted Castle
Five Children and It

100 Cupboards (series) by N.D. Wilson – I was significantly influenced by Wilson’s book, Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl (if you haven’t read it yet, you should), and was delighted to learn that he had a series of books that my boys’ could read. Wilson masterfully explores the nature of good and evil throughout his books (I’m holding off on my 9-year-old reading them until she’s a bit older) – ancient truths wrapped in great story. We’ve become bona fide N.D. Wilson fans.

Lazy Tinka by Kate Seredy

The Wheel on the School by Meindert Dejong
Journey from Peppermint Street 

Tom Swift (series) by Victor Appleton – Imagine James Bond – 007 written for children. Swift uses science, technology and adventure to save the day.

Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things by Cy Tymony – Amazing, really. Many a contraption in my house was conceived here.

Mini Weapons or Mass Destruction by John Austin – Learn to build Shoelace Darts, Clothespin Catapult, Penny Bombs, Airsoft Pen Poppers, Ping Pong Zookas, and more.

Wingfeather Series by Andrew Peterson – Love.  My son’s review is found here.

Just David by Eleanor Porter – A poignant read-aloud for fathers and sons. You can download for free here.

Teddy’s Button by Amy Le Feuvre – Perhaps the best explanation of the battle between good and evil that rages within all of us. Powerful message for adults as well as children. Grace embodied.

Freddy the Pig (series) by Water Brooks – One of my favorite series. Great to read aloud as a family or individually. Freddy the Detective is at the top of our list.

Little Britches (series) by Ralph Moody – If you’re looking for a father/son read-aloud, look no further. My husband has read through most of this series with the boys, and he’s enjoyed them as much (or more) than they have.

Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald – Don’t let the title fool you – great for boys. We’ll read this one again and again in the years to come.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan – True story from WW2

A Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Wonder Clock by Howard Pyle
Otto of the Silver Hand 

When the Tripods Came (series) by Lloyd Christopher

The Wonderful Flight of the Mushroom Planet (series) by Eleanor Cameron

Swallows and Amazons (series) by Arthur Ransome

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

The Bark of the Bog Owl Trilogy & The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers – The trilogy is a great read-aloud for younger children or independent reading for older kids. The Charlatan’s Boy was one of my personal favorite books read last year. The characters have become ingrained in our family culture. If anything goes wrong or missing – a feechie did it for sure. Here are a few important lessons learned from our reading:

The Bark of the Bog Owl Trilogy is currently out of print, but you’re likely to find the books in your local library. Stay tuned for news of their 2nd printing later this year. You can find other great books by Jonathan Rogers here.

Chapter Books ages 13 +

Fiddler’s Gun and Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson – Fiddler’s Gun has been one of my favorite reads this summer – full of adventure and heart. Due to the accurate portrayal of life, events, and language that took place during the Revolutionary War (and on pirate ships), these books are recommended for those over thirteen. Book club information including special pricing and discussion guide can be found here.

Auralia’s Colors (series) by Jeffrey Overstreet – We just discovered this series, and my son insisted that it be added to the list. He described the books as “a cross between the Susan Cooper and Lloyd Alexander novels.” You can read Overstreet’s thoughts on “Christian” fantasy here.  I couldn’t agree more.

Seven Men: And Their Secret of Greatness by Eric Metaxas
I’m so grateful for this book. Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, explores the lives of seven influential men. Their stories are different, yet each man’s life is marked by heroic, sacrificial service on behalf of others. If we want to fill our boys’ minds with stories that inspire, Seven Men is a great start. This is a perfect gift for sons, dads, and grandfathers.

Father Brown: The Essential Tales by GK Chesterton

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
One of my personal favorites. This is our family read aloud this summer. It gets better every time.

The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings

The Dark is Rising (series) by Susan Cooper

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You may have noticed that some of your favorite books (and some of ours, like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit) don’t appear on this list. Rather, I’ve attempted to include titles which are somewhat “off the beaten path.” The majority of the list was compiled with the help of my boys. They love their books.  

For your own spelunking:

Visit Living Books Library for their “Top Picks for Boys” list. Take time to browse through the website. It is a goldmine for book lists, information about books, and authors.

Bethlehem Books is a great place to find historical fiction.

Trailblazer Books by Dave and Neta Jackson are historical novels which introduce heroes of the Christian faith. The website provides a map, timeline, and various other resources corresponding to the books. The Bandit of Ashley Downs (introducing George Muller) had a tremendous impact on my life, as well as many of the others Trailblazer books that we’ve read.

Heroes: Then and Now published by YWAM has an extensive list of Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then and Now. The books about C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Boenhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom, and Eric Liddell are a few we’ve enjoyed. These are excellent resources.

The “We Were There” series is full of action and adventure. Historical events are retold through the eyes of children. Although out of print, they are fairly easy to find. For a complete book list, visit here.

A list of resources about children’s literature (including many of the “maps” I used to find these gems) is found here.

 

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Once again, I thank those who have graciously shared their knowledge of, and more importantly delight in, great books with me. I’m eternally grateful for you. You know who you are. (More on that part of my journey here.)

For the benefit of others, please share some of your favorite books for boys in the comments section.

 

 



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7 thoughts on “Books for Boys: A Show and Tell (updated)

  1. These look great! There are so many that I hadn’t heard of… We have enjoyed the Billy and Blaze books, Nate the Great series, as well as Encyclopedia Brown mysteries.

    • I don’t know how we missed Nate the Great – I’ve seen them but never borrowed them from the library. Encyclopedia Brown was one of my favorites as a child (and my kiddos as well).

  2. I just received an email from a friend with a good reminder… If you’re looking for some of the older books (Dan Frontier in particular), you may have to be patient. I’ve picked up some great deals on ebay (less than $10 per book)- typically from someone who was selling several books from a personal collection. Addall.com shows several under $10 as well.

    If you’re looking for any book in particular, you can email Jan at booksbloom@yahoo.com. She may have some in stock, or can also keep an eye out for you as she’s out “booking about.”

  3. I’ve been meaning to jump on and thank you for this great resource. I grew up with sisters, and my first kids were girls. Now that my son, Jon, is edging on three I’ve suddenly been looking at my shelves and tapping my lip, thinking, “Hmmm, a lot of these are about girls…” As a result, the last three books we’ve read as a family stretched beyond a little (though they were still childhood favorites of mine): The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary; A Cricket in Times Square, by George Seldon; and A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond. Hopefully these are new suggestions, and not just ones I missed as I skimmed over your list 🙂 . Oh! Just thought of some others: The Vinegar Boy (I think the author’s last name in Hawse), and Star of LIght, The Runaway, and Three Go Searching, by Patricia St. John.

    I’m forwarding this to my mom-in-law, too. She teaches fourth grade and was just lamenting the lack of good books for boys.

    • Loren – Yes! I was a ballet dancer with one sister. The world of boys is so different – and so much fun! Thanks for your suggestions – and I haven’t read any of the last few you mentioned, so I’ll look them up. I do like Patricia St. John, but we haven’t come across Three Go Searching yet. Thanks so much!

  4. A lovely list, to be sure, my dear! As I began teaching in my “Books for Boys” talk, God intends our sons to be warriors, providers, and protectors so we need to give them great role models. Do NOT give in to the “wimpy kid” idea – instead give them ideas, tools, models, laughter, and a look at what true living is in the lives of guys who have done IMPORTANT things!

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