Friday, September 16, 2011

books for boys

English/Language Arts and Reading teachers know that finding the right books for readers can be challenging stuff. What one reader likes, another doesn't. Once a reader finds an author, series, or genre, they can get stuck and struggle to find other books to read once they've made their way through their favorite series.  This can hold especially true for boys. As a field, we've made a lot of strides to engage boys through the books we carefully select and by giving kids choice in their reading material. But there's always room for improvement.

I had a request for some resources for books for boys, particularly for middle and high school readers. This is an excellent topic, and my plan is to periodically review new books being published to introduce you all to what is out there. But let's start with some great organizations and some suggested titles.

Guys Read, an organization started by author/illustrator Jon Scieszka, is a a web-based program devoted to help boys become life-long readers. There are some great book lists with suggested titles, and there's a place to submit suggestions of other titles. Those of you in the Twin Cities might know that Hennepin County Library has teamed with Guys Read, and HCL has some great resources linked on their website.

Other web resources that are my go-tos for ideas include:, a great website with tons of book lists, author information - including authors reading sections of books on podcast and video, helps for starting a book club, and regular newsletters.

There's Guys Lit Wire, a great blog for book resources for boys.

The Children's Literature Network also has some great book recommendation lists.

YALSA is a big one for me too.

The blog Reading Rants, and the Blue Ribbon Awards from The Bulletin at the University of Illinios are good resources too.

The International Reading Association has a special interest group (SIG) devoted to middle school reading, which has some great book lists and newsletters.

Another blog I look to is David Barr Kirtley's, who writes science fiction and has linked to a ton of free online stories in that genre for teens. He has a list of books for boys here.

Boys who like sports will likely enjoy Mike Lupica, Carl Deuker, and John Coy.

Local MN author Geoff Herbach wrote Stupid Fast (about an unlikely football player) which has been really popular since it's recent publication, and he has a sequel coming out soon.

Gordon Korman is also quite popular with boys who like adventure stories - his Son of a Mob is interesting.

Walter Dean Myers' books are great for boys too. I like most of them - particularly Monster, Sunrise Over Fallujah, and Lockdown.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is really popular lately with both boys and girls (and adults like me!) - especially with the movies coming out in the spring. If kids really liked The Hunger Games, you could also point them to Japanese novel Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, and they'll be anxious to talk about the parallels between the storylines. And Collins' Underland Chronicles are also well-liked.

Nancy Farmer's science fiction and fantasy books are good ones for boys too.

I haven't read the series that start with The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, but know it's also popular with boys who like the fantasy genre.

I'm a recent convert to graphic novels and their power for teaching literacy to teens, liking American Born Chinese, Ghostopolis, and Sandman. You can find lists of graphic novels at YALSA too.

Some other suggested titles include:

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
The Airborn series by Kenneth Oppel
The Unwind series by Neal Shusterman
The Dark is Rising and series by Susan Cooper
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Whistle!, by Daisuke Higuchi
Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II, by Robert Kurson
Hero, by Perry Moore
Feed, by M.T. Anderson
Headlock, by Joyce Sweeney
Godless, by Pete Hautman
The Trap, by John Smelcer
Lowboy, by John Wray
Going Bovine, by Libba Bray
We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success, by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt and Sharon Draper
Bait, by Alex Sanchez (a gay author, he maintains a website devoted to books for gay teens)
Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond
Hikaru No Go, by Yumi Hotta
Dark Sons, by Nikki Grimes

Happy Reading!


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