Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Books for Boys

I've been asked a few times to suggest reading material for teen boys who feel a little alienated in the girl-reader dominated market of YA fiction. Being a girl, of course, all of these are great for girl readers too, and I can't say I've read many marketed-toward-boys books (if there are even many out there). Also, most on this list happen to be some of my favorites (of all time). (Also note that these are YA, not MG. However, if the boy has read Hunger Games, most of the other recommendations will be the proper reading level).

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Amazon). Despite being told in a girl's POV, boys are able to connect with Katniss's story: thrust into the lime light, forced to grow up before she's ready, sacrificing herself for her family and country. Action level is very high in the entire series. Great for the reluctant reader.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (website) (Amazon). Told in alternating POVs of a boy and girl (tomboy), boys will be able to connect with both characters. It's a smart novel that voracious and reluctant readers alike will love. It combines action with history and steampunk. Also a great novel to introduce readers into steampunk.

Paper Towns (Amazon) by John Green (website). I would start a boy reader with this book, then give him Looking for Alaska (Amazon), then all his other novels (Will Grayson, Will Grayson is my favorite, but for reluctant readers start with the two above). And actually, you can reverse the order (I had a long debate with myself which to list first--Paper Towns won because it opens with an "adventure"). John Green embraces the nerd in his novels (online, he has a community of writers and readers known as "nerd fighters").

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (website) (Amazon). Also told in alternating POV of a boy and girl, this novel balances  the dual struggles of the protags as well as the unique identities of the genders. Often called light scifi, or dystopian mystery on a space ship, it's a great way to get into the scifi genre.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (blog) (Amazon). Told in the POV of a boy with the adventure of Hunger Games and a mystery that is never fully revealed (we're only on book two of three and we still don't know who the good and bad guys are!--third installment comes out Oct 2011), this is a must read for boys and girls alike who want a good adventure/fantasy, or are looking for something similar to The Hunger Games.

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (website) (Amazon). Though told in the POV of a girl, I recommend this to boys because of the suspense aspect and the gruesome angle (she finds dead bodies). Also has a light romance angle that doesn't overwhelm the story.

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (website) (Amazon). I read, no, devoured this series in 8th grade, and it has stuck with me all these years. Still some of my favorite books of all time. Told in the POV of a girl, it follows a group of friends in Australia who wage a guerrilla war on an army who has invaded the country while the group was in the bush camping. How does that description not hook you?

You'll notice that my list is all recently released novels (with the exception of the Tomorrow series by John Marsden). I could have included on my list Holes, The Giver, etc, but I'm a believer in giving boys (especially reluctant readers) something they are (99%) guaranteed to like. I respect the classics (they are classic for a reason), but kids are forced (yes, forced!) to read older books in school, and something just isn't working. I also haven't included Harry Potter (if they haven't read it by now, they won't), Eragon (beautiful writing, but might not captivate the reluctant reader), or Percy Jackson (heavy into the Greek mythology that also might turn off a reluctant reader).

Goodreads has a list for boys here. I haven't read the majority of the books and am curious as to your opinion; which of the listed books would you recommend?

And here is a list from Amazon here, mostly for comparison (I wouldn't recommend most of these books to boys unless they are tried and true voracious and advanced readers).

Any books you highly recommend for boys? Or books that you know for a fact boys have enjoyed?

Happy reading!


Heather said...

These are excellent choices! I'd add GONE by Michael Grant to the list. A few of the boys in my life have really enjoyed it. In fact, they've convinced me to read it!

Anonymous said...

The Mr. Tucket books by Gary Paulsen (really anything by him) were hugely popular when I was in school. And Percy Jackson of course.

Liz said...

I might have to disagree with you about Percy Jackson! I gave my copy of The Lightning Thief to a friend's eleven-year-old one day when he was bored, and while he was skeptical at first, he quickly tore through all of them and moved on to another one of Riordan's series. And this kid was pretty adamant about never reading anything he didn't have to. I'm sure he had some trouble with some of the names and stuff, but that didn't seem to stop him.

This book is probably too old for the list (it was released in the mid-nineties), but I recently gave him a couple of Christopher Golden's BODY BAGS books (because he's a CSI buff). He likes those a lot, too.

Anonymous said...

This is an older book but I believe it is an excellent read for a boy that likes nature & outdoors, moutain climbing and adventure, "No Clock in the Forest" by Paul J Willis

Janice Sperry said...

I would add to your list The Roar by Emma Clayton. My 12 year old son is looking forward to the next book, The Whisper.

Marsha Sigman said...

My 9th grade son had to read Hunger Games for his English class and loved it! He wants me to buy the series so we can both read it. It's not like I'm going to say no.lol

Stephsco said...

I love anything by John Green or Scott Westerfeld, and think your suggestions are excellent. I frequent bookstores (probably as many of you here do) and I always see kids in the YA section looking at Leviathan and the Uglies series.

I read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride this year (pub 2010) which is male POV who has (at first unknown) powers to raise the dead. He is 19 and out of high school but it's still labeled YA.

Sarah said...

I've heard from a lot of guys that Ender's Game was what got them really excited about reading and sci-fi.

S. J. Pajonas (spajonas) said...

i love all of your recommendations! there are still a few here that are on my to-read shelf at goodreads (ex. "maze runner") but i have to say a big YES to "hunger games" and "across the universe".

looking at the goodreads list you linked to i'm glad to find that "ender's game" is at the top of the list! that's all-time favorite book. OSC's other newer series, "the lost gate", would also be perfect for boys. coming from the sci-fi angle, i'm also glad to see "unwind" and "the foundation trilogy" on there too. both are fantastic inroads into good sci-fi (one new and one old.)

p.s. i don't know if you've read "divergent" yet but after seeing this list of yours, i think that you should! :)

Shell Flower said...

My son is 16 and some of his favorites are; the Brian Jacques Redwall books, the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix, and the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. These are books he's read over and over, and still enjoys.

Unknown said...

My resident boy seconds the ENDER books and likes ENDER'S SHADOW the best. He also liked Veronica Roth's DIVERGENT, but admits that it isn't really a "boy" book, per se.

mshatch said...

Ender's Game is a must read, along with the Artemis Fowl series and I would also highly recommend Struts and Frets, Ship Breaker, and The Marbury Lens.

A. Lockwood said...

I would definitely recommend UN LUN DUN (China Mieville) because it had my 13-yr-old brother giggling frequently.

SHIP BREAKER (Paolo Bacigalupi) is probably a good one as well.

INCARCERON (Catherine Fisher) may also fit.

Claire Dawn said...

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Rush by Jonathan Friesen

both for older boys- maybe 15 and up.

Kristine Asselin said...

I do love Ender's Game. And Artemis Fowl. For older boys (and girls) WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by Levithan and Green is a great read. For the Harry Potter set, SEPTIMUS HEAP by Angie Sage.

Anonymous said...

I'd add Jonathan Maberry's ROT AND RUIN and Rick Yancey's THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST. Zombies and other fun monsters, plus darn good writing.


Rachel Stark said...

I'm delighted that a number of these are narrated by girls, but still considered boy-appropriate. I'd really like to see more of that trend, since the push to always have a male main character to attract boy readers has always bothered me.

A lot of boys have been enjoying THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF SECRETS by Eden Unger Bowditch. It's best for a younger teen, but it's really unique in its inclusion of lots of science and invention, which a lot of clever boys -- or boys so preoccupied with math and science they don't always break for reading -- will enjoy.

Alex said...

Ender's Game for sure, and Ender's Shadow. A Boy's Life, by Robert Mccammon, The Redwall series, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Harry Potter, Catch-22, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Maniac Magee, Treasure Island,The Golden Compass Trilogy, Sherlock Holmes, The Black Cauldron series.

These run the gamut of YA reading from middle grade to adult, but that's what I read from 13 to 18 and still reread.

@Michele Philhower, if your son likes Redwall, he should give the Black Cauldron series and the Golden Compass trilogy a try. He also might really like A Boy's life too, which is not as fantastical but equally as emotionally rich. That's what I remember best about Redwall, the pulling on the heartstrings. There were the battles and the adventures but they wouldn't have meant anything unless I was emotionally invested in their cause.

Stephanie Allen said...

My 13-year-old brother devoured Harry Potter, Eragon, the Pendragon series, Percy Jackson, and most recently The Hunger Games. I think he might have started The Hobbit, but I don't think he ever finished it. (Although he is right around the age I was when I read it, and his reading level is about the same as mine was, so it might have been a lack of interest thing more than a comprehension thing.)

I haven't read very many of the books on the Goodreads list, although I did read The House on the Scorpion four or five years ago, and I remember it being excellent. I don't remember much about it, but it's told from a boy's perspective and I think I remember there being action in it? Anyway. Boys might like that one.

Ooh. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I just read that one for a class and it was really good. If I wind up teaching a high school English class (or even a U.S. history class!) someday I'd probably actually teach that one.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

My son is only seven, but he's absolutely eating up DIARY OF A WIMPY KID books right now. And he loves anything by Jon Sciezska. Up until now he's been a very reluctant reader, and still is if the topic doesn't interest him. He's not like my daughter who reads anything she can get her hands on.