Summer Reading for Boys (Girls Totally Welcome!)

Okay, so it’s not summer yet, but Memorial Day feels like the turning point. We aren’t getting much warmth, but I’ve at least seen the thermometer top 70 in the last week or so. We’re down to two weeks of school, not counting finals, but finals don’t come with homework, so we’re not counting them.

This year has been interesting. My son has pretty much liked all the books he’s read for school, which makes me happy. What hasn’t made me so happy has been watching his free-time, for-fun reading hours diminish a lot. I know, that’s life, but it’s not a part of life that thrills me. Luckily, his school is making one big change next year, and that is that they’ll be scheduling mid-year finals before the winter break, and you can bet I’ll have books on hand for him to crash happily into.

Anyway, all this has got me thinking about the whole discussion/debate on how/whether schools are turning our kids away from books, plus the question of whether boys do stop reading as they get older and what, if anything, we can do about that. This line of thought sent me back to the books that my son has, over the years, absolutively fallen in love with, and I thought–hey, why not share.

So what you’re getting in this post is a long list (with an occasional note from me), basically ordered from young to older, in terms of when I remember my son first reading them. I raided his shelves and his memory to build this, so it’s not just from me. Some of the books are well-known, even famous; others we just randomly and happily bumped into along the way. They all, in one way or another, totally clicked with my son–I hope they click for someone in your reading world.

  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. BEST READ-ALOUD EVAH.
  • Tony Abbott’s The Secrets of Droon series. Just right for a kid who doesn’t connect with the Magic Treehouse books, but wants wizards and magic spiders and flying carpets and all that good stuff.
  • Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta and Captain Underpants books. If you want to see a kid’s face light up with the joy of having read AN ENTIRE BOOK ALL BY HIMSELF, the Ricky books are the way to go. And the Captain Underpants books are sheer brilliance.
  • Bruce  Hale’s Chet Gecko series. Tightly written, fast and funny. Puns, puns, and more puns.
  • Bruce Coville’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher and Sixth Grade Alien series. Pleskitt rocks.
  • James Howe’s Tales from the House of Bunnicula series. It is impossible not to love Howie.
  • Roald Dahl. Anything by him. Favorites: Matilda and The BFG.
  • Louis Sacher’s Wayside School books. Let me tell you, these got pretty beat up on our trip to Iceland. They were read read silently and read out loud and reread and…
  • Allen Kurtzweil’s Leon and the Spitting Image and Leon and the Champion Chip. Just the right amount of quirky.
  • Zizou Corder’s Lionboy series. I can’t even describe how brilliant these books are. Just to read them. Now.
  • Georgia Byng’s Molly Moon series. If Roald Dahl had written given the power of hypnosis to children.
  • Morris Gleitzman’s Toad Rage series.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
  • Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams Danny Dunn series. Out of print, I’m pretty sure, but check the libraries and used bookstores. Light science and probably out-of-date, but still wonderful early science fiction. With a smart teenage girl in the fifties who’s totally on the path to being a professional scientist when she grows up.
  • John Peel’s Diadem series.
  • The Animorphs series by K. A. Applegate. And, yes, I read a lot of them myself.
  • Timothy Zahn’s Dragonback series. Not easy to find, but a real hit!
  • Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series
  • Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series
  • Mysterious Benedict Society series The first book, in particular, is one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read.
  • Ann Downer’s Hatching Magic Wyverns. Not dragons, but wyverns.
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz series
  • Derek Landry’s Skullduggery Pleasant series
  • Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smekday
  • Pseudonymous Bosch’s The Secret series
  • Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books. A little FYI: According to son, Eoin Colfer’s final book in the “trilogy” totally holds its own with the rest of the books.
  • Cinda Williams Chima Heir series
  • Terry Pratchett. Anything Discworld. If your kids are younger, start them with The Wee Free Men. My son likes the books about The Watch best, while I prefer The Witches, but Sir Pratchett has basically kept my boy in reading for the past two years. He should get another medal just for that.
  • Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Every one of these books gets passed quickly around the household as soon as we can get hold of a copy. Fast, funny, tense, absolutely brilliant writing. Note: these aren’t targeted for kids, and it’s your call (and your kid’s!) when you want them reading what. So you might read one first before passing it on. My little heads up!

Okay, hopefully, this might help keep you and your kids busy shopping and reading this summer. I may come back and add more as I remember. For now, enjoy! And feel free to toss your own contribution into the comments–books your boys fell in love with, anywhere along the age spectrum. Hey, I could use some new ideas. We’re running out of Terry Pratchett books over here!


14 thoughts on “Summer Reading for Boys (Girls Totally Welcome!)

  1. I recognize some of our favorites on here. We’ve read any and everything by Dahl, Colfer, Riordan and Sacher. Bosch gets props too. But some of these are unfamiliar so hooray! We get to discover new books this summer! Thanks 🙂


  2. Thanks for this list – printing it for our next visit to the library. My 7 yr old loves our nightly reading/giggling to Dan Gutman’s My Weird School (and My Weird School Daze) series. Goofy and sometimes gross (perfect for boys!) always with a light lesson


  3. Hey Becky
    I only have daughters, but I found talking to you about this topic so interesting, especially the idea of which comes first, the dearth of boy-friendly books to entice boy readers, or the lack of interest from boys that causes that lack…I’m so happy to see all these great titles from you that make the case for boy-enticing books being out there, you just have to look.

    Having said that, I’m going to just forget the whole ‘boy-ness’ of these recommendations and start getting them in front of my 7 year old daughter. Thanks for the thoughtful list!


    • beckylevine says:

      Yes, I know lots of girls that like these books, too. I just see a lot of boy lists that had books that DIDN’T appeal to my son, so I thought I’d share in case there were more kids with tastes like his out there.

      Have you guys done Matilda & The BFG yet? They might be read-alouds, depending on your daughter, but they are wonderful for that, too!


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