Prev Next
books for elementary school boys

Books Boys Love

By Wendi Aarons

Everyone knows that boys don’t like books. (Whoa— how’d you all get those torches lit so quickly? At least give me a running start!) But what I mean by that rather sweeping generalization is that, with so many studies and articles showing that boys lag behind girls in literacy, one could easily assume that the last thing any boy wants to do is curl up with a good book and read.

Except, they do. Want to curl up with a good book and read, that is. At least they do in my house where my 10-year-old son Sam will spend twenty minutes perusing the fine print on a bag of potato chips just because he “can’t wait to see how it ends.” Sam has always been a voracious reader and even blew through the entire Harry Potter collection in less than a month last summer. I know, I have it easy with him.

But then there’s Jack, my 8-year-old son, who’s more of a challenge because he needs to have his interest really piqued by a book in order to make a commitment to it. In that way, he’s probably more like the typical boy reader the researchers are referring to, but we’ve still been able to find quite a few books that he just adores.

The good news is that no matter which camp your boys fall into—book worm or book, um, whatever the opposite of worm is—there’s a plethora of stories out there that they’ll be happy to sit down and enjoy. (Key phrase in that sentence: “sit down.”) With the help of our elementary school librarian, I’ve put together a list of books that boys (and more than a few girls I know) seem to love. In general, the librarian told me, most boys gravitate toward fantasy, humor, Greek mythology (especially books with illustrations of the mythical creatures), illustrated dragon books, Guinness World Records and non-fiction stories about military vehicles and ships. Yep, there’s a whole world out there besides “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

Please note that along with the book selections, I’ve also included a little commentary from my sons. Which I thought was a good idea at the time, but now they both want jobs at The New York Review of Books after they graduate from grade school.

Books My Boys Love

1: Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
There are almost 50 of these books that tell fun tales of Jack and Annie’s adventures through time to different places around the world. A great way for your reader to actually learn some history. (Ages 8 and up.)

Sam: I definitely learned a lot of history! Maybe too much!

2: BeastQuest series by Adam Blade
A boy does battle with dragons and other mythological creatures in over 60 books. Hugely popular at our school. (Ages 7 and up.)

Jack: Really fun books. All of them have monsters with three children going on a quest to defeat them. I like them because they have a lot of adventure and they’re exciting.

3: Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
I know, I know, not exactly Oliver Twist, but boys go crazy for these slightly crude yet funny illustrated novels. (Ages 7 and up.)

Sam: They’re definitely underpantsy!
Jack: Hahahaha!

4: My Weird School series by Dan Gutman
With titles like “Miss Daisy is Crazy,” kids love these funny books about not-so-perfect teachers and principals. (Ages 7 and up.)

Jack: They’re all about teachers who are weird at their school. I like reading them because in each book it’s different. Like in one book the lunch lady puts weird stuff in the mashed potatoes. Gross!

5: The Genius Files by Dan Gutman
A new series where 12-year-old geniuses Coke and Pepsi McDonald make an exciting, adventurous trek across America to uncover a secret government plot. (Ages 8 and up.)

Jack: It sounds very mysterious and I will definitely read it.

6: I Survived by Lauren Tarshis
My boys don’t have any of these yet, but our first-grade neighbor Jackson goes crazy for these fictional stories about real events like the sinking of the Titanic, Hurricane Katrina and September 11th. (Ages 7 and up.)

Jack: I’ve never read one of these, but they sound like a really good series and I’m going to read them soon. (Do I have to?)

7: Rangers Apprentice series by John Flanagan
Action-filled fantasy that involves a boy training to become a knight in a medieval world. A movie version will debut in 2013. (Ages 10 and up.)

Sam: I don’t usually like medieval stuff, but this is pretty dang good.

8: The Lightening Thief and Lost Hero series by Rick Riordan
Riordan based his hero Percy Jackson, the troubled twelve-year-old diagnosed with both ADHD and dyslexia who is actually the son of Greek God Perseus, on his son. His storytelling is always very compelling and exciting and I personally would have loved to read something like this when I was young. (Ages 10 and up.)

Sam: This got me interested in Greek gods and now I know every single one of them. Impressive, isn’t it?

9: Sports-themed fiction by Mike Lupica, Tim Green or Matt Christopher
With titles like The Underdogs and Safe At Home (Lupica), Pinch Hit (Green) and Body Check and The Great Quarterback Switch (Christopher), these are perfect for your young sports lover. Christopher’s and Green’s books are good for ages 8 and up, Lupica’s tend to skew slightly older.

Sam: This is all I read now. They’re really awesome because I love sports and I’m kind of an expert, sportswise.
Jack: I think that every single one of them gets you more into sports.

10: Anything by Roland Smith
Former zookeeper Roland Smith is a personal favorite of both Sam and our school librarian. Most of his books are stand-alones, like Storm Runners and Tentacles, and are extremely well written with fast pacing that boys really love. (Ages 9 and up.)

Sam: My favorite books ever because they’re just exciting. You never know what’s going to happen next! Hey, will you buy me his new one?

Whether you have an enthusiastic or a reluctant reader, the key is to find something that intrigues them. Something that excites them. Something that shows them that, no matter if they’re a boy or a girl, books are pretty darn awesome. Happy reading!

More Book Recommendations from Alphamom:

About the Author

Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at Wendi Aarons, The Mouthy Housewives or starting fistfights near the 70% off rack at Target.

icon icon
chat bubble icon


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

My brother and I, at ages about 9-10, burned through the Tom Swift series one summer. They are Nancy Drew-era books about a boy inventor who has fantastical adventures -I forget if he solves crimes or mysteries or what. Regardless, light, plot-driven stories with about a million books in the series. For what it’s worth, I just jumped over to Amazon to see if they were still in print, and it looks like the Kindle versions are FREE.


Great tip! I love that they’re classic and free to boot.


I’m one of the lucky few that has a son who eats books up.  But that’s also a problem in that he will read many of those books above in one night.  That leaves us with many more nights of book reading to do.  He will often then just reread the books for the next week until we find new books.  Haven’t heard of #7 yet.  Think I’ll try those out.  Thanks.


Congrats on being at AlphaMom, Wendi, and I’m happy to find one more place to find you. My boys love to read. These are great books. My guy, 10, is a bit older and he’s loved all the books here.
I still read to him every night, he asks for it. Right now we’re into the series by Rick Riordan. The books hook him from the beginning, with non stop fantasy, boy as hero, and action.

He loves boy as hero.


we’re still on Green Eggs and Ham and Rainbow Rob(ages 3 and 1), but am SO happy you posted this! I have no clue what little boys like.


Where the Red Fern Grows is a must! Add that to Sam’s list for the summer.

Great post Wendi!


Thanks for the suggestion, Carinn! I remember sobbing my eyes out with that one. I’ll pick it up for Sam.


Great list! I have to disagree a little on the age ranges you posted. Magic Tree House could start as early as 6 for a voracious reader, it’s not over their head. And my boys lost interest in MTH by age 9. Generally I go along with “if they can read the words, then it’s appropriate for them to understand.” It’s the 10+ readers I have a hard time with finding good books that aren’t too crazy on the violence.


Great suggestions! I would also add: Wayside School series, Secrets of Droon, anything by Gordon Korman, and the Secret series by Psydonymous Bosch.


Thank you for this! My son is about to turn 2 and this has got me thinking about the future. My husband’s favorite book growing up was Watership Down. I’ve actually never read it (he was shocked and is going out right now to find a copy for me) but he read it around 7 or 8 and it stuck with him. My brother was not a reader until he found sci fi. He would read for hours about Star Wars, dragons, etc. and went from refusing to read to being a bookworm. I think one of the series was… Read more »


Isn’t Percy Jackson the son of Poseidon? Not Perseus?


My brother and I both absolutely LOVED “The Great Brain” series by John D Fitzgerald and Mercer Mayer. I still remember the series fondly, and will definitely be getting them for my girls. It is a great series for both genders.


Jean Craighead George’s “My Side of the Mountain” (and 2 others that follow) and anything by Gary Paulsen (“Hatchet”) are great books for 10+.  They are for boys that like adventure and a  survivor type plot.  Paulsen specifically wrote books for boys because someone once said “boys don’t like to read.”  He knew that no one was really writing books for them to WANT to read. My son is 11 and started getting into  them last year. We just checked out a bag full of them from the library again for this summer!


My oldest loved Roald Dahl’s Boy and Going Solo when he was in 4th grade, and A Single Shard in 5th. The same son reluctantly dragged himself through Hatchet a few years later. As a 14 year old read the story of Daoud Hari’s experiences in “Translator” about the Darfur conflict and keeps hoping to find another book that good. Don’t discard a genre based on one hated book. (Translator is great, but definitely Parental Guidance- horrific war scenes) Don’t forget older books like Half Magic and The Trumpet of the Swans. That said, my 8 year old loves the… Read more »

Isabel Kallman

My then eight-year old son and his classmates loved the Origami Yoda and Darth Paper book too. Thanks for the recommendations.