Good books can be hard to come by, but when you find one you really like, it’s almost like discovering a buried treasure. My family and I often scour the library hunting for something new and exciting. Many times, we find decent books, sometimes we find duds, but every once in a while we come across a gem. Wading through a sea of books to find a good story can be a daunting task, and yet it is so important that we give our kids the right things to read. So, for those who would like some help getting started, here is a list of a handful of our favorite books for boys. Though I’m sure many will be enjoyed by girls as well. Later, there will be a list for girls and other categories as well. In creating this list, we were looking for stories that boys could relate to, and that promote heroism, courage, kindness, selflessness, wisdom, and love, as well as being a good story.
For younger readers (Ages 2-5)
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion – Harry is quite a character. In this story he doesn’t want his owners to give him a bath, so he runs off and gets so dirty that when he comes home, his owners don’t recognize him. He has to go to great lengths to convince them that he is Harry. This book is part of a series. We have read some of the others, and they are funny as well.
Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski – All of the Mr. Small books are great! My two year old loves them! Mr. Small is a delightful character that little boys seem to get a kick out of. (other books in the series – The Little Train, Policeman Small, The Little Fire Engine).
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – This is a classic, and it is such a good story. It’s entertaining, suspenseful, ends well, and teaches a valuable lesson about obedience. There are other Beatrix Potter Tales that we like as well, like Johnny Town-Mouse, but just a word of warning some of her other stories, in trying to teach a moral, become very scary or the consequences don’t seem to fit the crime. They may confuse or worry the youngest reader. You can listen to The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Johnny Town-Mouse at Sailaway Stories.
Hello Ninja by N.D. Wilson – A great bedtime book about the imagination of an active boy.
The Brave Cowboy by Joan Walsh Anglund – Another great bedtime book about a boy with a wonderful imagination.
There’s a Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone – Grover is our favorite Sesame Street character, and in this book, he is super silly and fun. This one will have you and your kids laughing.
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean – This is an entertaining story that encourages kids to keep on singing even when things change. You can listen to the song that goes with the book at the Pete the Cat website. (Other Pete the Cat stories – Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes).
There’s an Alligator Under My Bed and There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer – Humorous stories about the typical fears of children that will make your kids laugh.
The Super Hungry Dinosaur by Martin Wadell – A story about a little boy’s courage and victory over a huge obstacle.
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson – Entertaining, imaginative stories.
A Boy, A Dog, and a Frog (series) by Mercer Mayer – Wordless picture books that are humorous and adventurous. The frog is constantly causing trouble for the little boy.
Pretend by Jennifer Plecas – This story is really sweet and full of imagination. A boy and his dad have an exciting day of pretending. They survive in a life raft while sharks swim around them, they catch fish, they swim to a deserted island and build a shelter all while in their living room.
Picture books (Ages 4-8)
Fritz and the Beautiful Horses and The Mitten by Jan Brett – Jan Brett has many wonderful stories for boys and girls, and her illustrations are delightful.
Billy and Blaze series by C.W. Anderson – Exciting stories about a boy and his horse.
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Katy and the Big Snow
The Little House
Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton – Timeless tales that can be read and re-read again.
King Arthur: The Sword in the Stone (Tales of King Arthur) by Hudson Talbott – The illustrations in this book are wonderful and make the story come to life.
The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg – Many of Steven Kellogg’s books are great, and his unique and outlandish illustrations tell the story. He has a series of illustrated American tall tales that are over-the-top, but a lot of fun.
Zathura and The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris Van Allsburg – Interesting and entertaining stories with a lesson.
Cappybobby by Bill Peet – The story of a family who has a capybara as a pet. The unusual and lively personality of the creature makes for a fun and interesting story.
Middle-grade readers (Ages 8-12)
The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit – Our favorite story in this book is The Book of Beasts. Many of Edith Nesbit’s other books are worth reading as well, such as The Enchanted Castle and The Railway Children. You can listen to The Book of Beasts at Sailaway Stories.
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith – This is a new series that is unique and original, but it also deals with ancient truth and classic heroism and honor. My family enjoyed this book and the next book in the series just came out. In my opinion, it is even better than the first story, and that is so rare. It just gets better and better.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – These stories are the most quoted and most special books in our home aside from the Bible. Although these books are highly recommended for both girls and boys to read, we put them on this list because there is so much for a boy to benefit from reading each of the books in this series. Digory Kirk, Edmund and Peter Pevensie, Shasta, Bree, Eustace, Prince Caspian, Trumpkin, Puddleglum, Prince Rillian, Prince Tirian, Aslan, and all of the other characters have so much to offer a boy reader. Each story and character speaks of such rich truth and the stories are exciting and entertaining to boot.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart- We have not finished this series, but we enjoyed this first book. It is a mystery and adventure book about four talented kids with special abilities. They are unlikely heroes who are part of a secret society that is investigating a school that is the center of a sinister plot to take over the word. It is their job to uncover this evil plan, and they must use their brainpower and abilities to do it.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson – This is a fun adventure book with a good boy hero.
George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Janet and Geoff Benge – An amazing story of faith. The true story of George Muller told in a compelling and exciting way for kids.
Little Britches (series) by Ralph Moody – A little boy with a rascally personality tells the adventures of his family as he grows up on a ranch in Colorado at the turn of the century.
The Adventures of Tintin (series) by Herge – These are comic book style books full of action and adventure.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – James is an orphan living with his cruel aunts who make him work all day with little food and no love, but one day a strange man gives him some magic “crocodile tonugues” that he promises will lead James on a great adventure. James accidentally drops the “crocodile tongues” and a peach tree and some insects are the recipients of the magic. The peach grows into a giant peach and the insects grow as well. James does have a marvelous adventure and finds happiness in the end.
Ages 12 to13 +
Ashtown Burials by N.D. Wilson – I have become a pretty big N.D. Wilson fan lately and everything about this series is well crafted. There is a lot of imagery and truth packed into this series. The ideas and characters are original and unique. It is suspenseful, action-packed and even has humor thrown in. I love the relationship between the main characters Cyrus, and Antigone who are brother and sister. It’s authentic and real and inspiring. There are some very scary parts in this series, and it deals with difficult subjects, like death. I would recommend this series for older readers.
Nick of Time by Ted Bell – This is one of my all-time favorite books. The main character is a twelve-year-old boy who has exciting adventures that include time travel. The story is set during two of my favorite eras in history, World War II and the 1800’s. There are some scary parts in this story. The villains are very evil. Also, the main character has an idolatrous fascination with a British war hero, Admiral Lord Nelson. He often says a chant-like prayer to the dead Navy officer. Probably best suited for 11 years or older.
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – A family is forced to survive on a tropical island after being shipwrecked.
The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper – A classic tale of light and dark. A fantasy adventure about a group of heroes who work to overthrow the Darkness with the Light.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – This is a timeless classic. Boys will enjoy the adventure that Bilbo Baggins embarks upon with twelve dwarfs and a wizard. If you have only seen the movie, the book is so much better.
The Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan – I have only read the first three in this series, but what I have read I enjoyed immensely. These stories are packed with adventure and action. The characters are great, and the story centers around courage, honor, friendship, and loyalty.