A coworker asked me for recommendations for his son, who is around eight years old. These books are probably good for eight to twelve year old boys (and girls, because books are for everyone!). Since I spent the majority of my childhood reading, I have lots of suggestions. I promised him a list, and here it is!
Please read these books, or at least SparkNote them, before you give them to your children to read. Some of the themes are dark and your child might have questions. Isn’t that the point of reading? To ask questions, experience tough situations, and grow without leaving the comfort of your house? The ones with * have been turned into movies or TV shows, but I swear you better get your kid to read them before they see the movie or show!
The Hardy Boys*– With 58 “canon” books and over 130 additional titles, these brothers solve mysteries and learn life lessons in the 1950s. They sometimes team up with Nancy Drew, another famous sleuth with her own series of books. The original books are slightly racist to reflect the times (they were written awhile ago) so look for the republished editions for politically correct versions
Dinotopia*– over twenty published books about a utopia where dinosaurs and people live in harmony; cute and fun and they published editions with awesome illustrations
Rascal– a boy rescues a raccoon and tries to overcome loss in his own life (death of a parent); this is based on the author’s life
Three books about an abused dog and the boy who loves him; this is probably the first book series that hit seriously adult themes with me as a child (abuse, neglect)
Bridge to Terabithia*– two children create a land of imagination to escape their own lives; it is a story of friendship and sadness; be prepared to speak to your child about death of friends
A boy discovers that his miniature Indian toy becomes alive when he places it inside of a magical cupboard and must learn about the Indian’s needs; this series taught me a lot about empathy to cultures that are not our own
The Indian in the Cupboard*
The Return of the Indian
The Secret of the Indian
The Mystery of the Cupboard
The Key to the Indian
Phantom Tollbooth*– Legitimately the BEST book of word play and puns for children; I reread this last year and still enjoyed it just as much; it also teaches about numbers and grammar and how to not be lazy
Boxcar Children- over 150 novels that follows a family of four orphaned children who learn to survive in a boxcar. The original nineteen books are set in the 1920s and 1930s of America
Where the Red Fern Grows*– A boy gets two coon hunting hounds and raises them. The love that the dogs have for him ends in disaster. I still cry remembering the end of this one (death and love of animals)
A boy survives a plane crash in the woods and must survive in the wilderness with only a hatchet. This series covers his adventures and eventual rescue and wrestling with his demons. (survivalist)
Another boy runs away to a mountain to live off of the land. His life is similar to homesteading. It was cool to see how he survived in the wilderness out of choice.
My Side of the Mountain
On the Far Side of the Mountain
So You Want to Be a Wizard– an eleven book series about a boy and a girl who enter a world with powers; it was fantasy and pretty cool.
Rules for a Knight– Sir Hawke is a knight who writes letters to his small boys to tell them how to appropriately act in the world. It is full of parables and lessons to learn as a boy.
Leave any other suggestions you can think of!
(Yes, I’ll be doing a post on girl’s books as well)