Books for boys


First aired on Fresh Air (06/30/2012)

Summer's here and with the kids out of school, the playgrounds and sports fields must be full of young boys running around, right? There's a popular perception that boys are more interested in bats, balls and BioShock (it's a video game) than books, but some local bookstore owners say they're seeing more boys perusing their shelves.

CBC's Fresh Air recently assembled a reading panel of Ontario bookstore managers: Susan Chamberlain of The Book Keeper in Sarnia, Jean Begin of The Real Bookshelf in Thunder Bay and Itah Sadu of A Different Booklist in Toronto. All agreed that at times it may be challenging to get boys to read, but there are more books than ever that appeal to boys and parents should be encouraging them to discover the literature that's out there.

"I would like to say that the more that we say that boys are reluctant readers or drop off [after a certain age], we will begin to believe this," Sadu said.

Begin said that sports and video games are a big part of childhood, but parents should also stress the importance of literacy by establishing an hour a day for recreational reading during the summer.

Chamberlain said it's not hard for kids to find great books these days because we're in a "golden age" for youth literature. Since the Harry Potter series began in 1997, we've seen an enormous surge in kid-oriented fantasy or sci-fi books, including Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Hunger Games trilogy, which definitely appeal to boys.

"Anything that gives the boys a chance to use their imagination is just fantastic," Begin said.

Below is a list of reading recommendations for young boys. What are yours? Let us know in the comments section below.

Age 6 to 8:

magic-tree-cover-50.jpgMagic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

Children are whisked away to different times and lands through the Magic Tree House and learn about history in this easy-to-read series of books.

bruno-50.jpgI, Bruno and Bruno for Real by Caroline Adderson

These are two beginner novels featuring the very unique seven-year-old, Bruno. He has a huge aversion to anything green, at least any food items that are green, and requests a brown dinner, orange lunch and white breakfast.

Caroline Adderson is a wonderful Canadian writer from Vancouver. She has published for both adults and children.

da-costa-50.jpgMathieu Da Costa: First to Arrive by Itah Sadu

This delightful picture book introduces Da Costa, the free African explorer and translator, to children. Sadu uses a song to tell of Da Costa's work as a translator for Samuel de Champlain and Pierre Dugua de Monts.

Age 8 to 12:

Diary-of-a-wimpy-kid-50.jpgDiary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Story of a kid who is happy being a wimp, much to the chagrin of his father who
tries to change his ways.

gregor-overlander-50.jpgGregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins is the author of the famed Hunger Games trilogy. Gregor is a series of five books written in the early 2000s. They are excellent boys' adventure novels that follow 11-year-old Gregor into a fantastical underworld populated by giant rats, bats, cockroaches and spiders that can talk! Each book is a different quest.

panman-drums-50.jpgPanman Presents the Sweet Sound of Steel by Tarquin Lougheide

A 10-year-old boy named Winston loves beating his biscuit tin, but his mother doesn't like the noise. Every day, Winston sneaks away for hours to practice playing. But then one day, his tin goes missing! Winston searches everywhere for his little red biscuit tin but it's nowhere to be found. Winston is sad that he can't find his tin, but then something surprising happens.

Age 12 and up:

james-bond-higson-50.jpgYoung James Bond by Charlie Higson

The story of how James Bond ends up at Eton College and the adventures he gets involved in.

dark-endeavour-50.jpgThis Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth Oppel brought us the Firewing, Sunwing, Darkwing trilogy. This novel is subtitled The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. It's a dark, gothic adventure that features a forbidden and magical library.

middle-nowhere-50.jpgMiddle of Nowhere by Caroline Adderson

A clever 12-year-old boy named Curtis becomes solely responsible for his younger brother after their unreliable mother disappears. They join forces with an eccentric old lady, Mrs. Burt, from across the street who comes to rely on the boys for help in her old age. The unlikely trio end up enjoying each other's company at Mrs. Burt's abandoned family cabin. But how long can this summer bliss last, before the reality of their respective situations becomes unavoidable?