Five great books to read aloud to boys

by DaniGirl on November 17, 2011 · 14 comments

in Ah, me boys, Books

One of the great pleasures of my day is reading out loud to the boys at bedtime. Beloved and I take turns; one night I’ll read to Lucas and he’ll read to Tristan and Simon, and then we’ll switch. Lately, Tristan and Simon and I have taken to sharing some of the reading – they’ll read a page or two each, and then I’ll read the rest. It’s been a great way to (a) keep them engaged in the story, (b) share the love of reading and (c) monitor their reading progress.

438:1000 Book club

We’ve been all over the map with our book choices, from JK Rowling to Dave Barry to Judy Blume, and we’re always looking for new suggestions, so I thought I’d share some of our recent favourites. By the way, I called this post “five great books to read aloud to boys” intentionally — while I’m sure that many girls (myself included!) would enjoy these books, I think it’s a little harder to engage boys in reading and these ones have done that well.

1. Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

This is a wonderful book to read out loud – the language just flows, the dialogue is engaging, and the story is a real page-turner. When I was reading it to the boys this summer, they’d ask me to start reading a little earlier than usual so we could read more, and we’d sit on the porch in the receding light to enjoy it. It’s a quirky, imaginative twist on the Peter Pan story, written by humourist and columnist Dave Barry. There are three more books in this series, and I look forward to working our way through all of them.

2. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – Judy Blume

I read this when I was Tristan’s age, back when I devoured everything Judy Blume had written. Although some of the references are a little dated, the boys loved the interaction between 9 year old Peter, his pesky younger brother Fudge and their baby sister. There are now five books in this series, and we worked our way through all of them this summer. Simon especially seemed to love the antics of Fudge – more than one allusion from Fudge to Lucas was drawn! This one is impressively engaging for a 40 year old novel.

3. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

I tried to read Lord of the Rings several times in my life. I’d pick it up, put it down. Pick it up, put it down. I loved the mythology (I taught myself Tolkien’s rune alphabet when I was in highschool and used to write notes to friends using it) and loved the movies, but the books — ugh. I just couldn’t get through those pages and pages of Hobbit geneology. But The Hobbit itself? Love it. It’s the perfect quest novel – a diminutive hero, mythical and mysterious creatures, battles, treasure. What more could a young boy want? We’re about 1/3 of the way in right now, and although Simon was a little reluctant at first, I had them both sitting on the edge of the bed last night trying to figure out the riddles that Gollum and Bilbo were trading. (Tristan dropped my jaw by figuring out a few of them as I was reading, and then made up his own rhyming riddle on the spot!) Did you know Peter Jackson is filming a version of the Hobbit? It’s due to be released next year.

4. Percy Jackson books – Rick Riordan

I can’t personally testify to these books, as its Beloved who has been working through them with the boys since last Christmas. All three of them love the series, based largely in the world of Greek mythology. In fact, Beloved and I have occasionally bartered for more reading time when he was reading Percy Jackson and I was reading Peter and the Starcatchers — we each wanted to know what was going to happen next in our respective stories.

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

We read the first book in the series earlier this year, and the boys loved it. I know the books get darker as the series progresses, but I find the first few books to be perfect for where they are right now. Given that it takes a month or so for us to read the average novel (I had to renew Peter and the Starcatchers three times from the library and still incurred a few days of late charges to wade through all 480 pages, and that was an easy read!) I figure by the time we work our way up to Deathly Hallows the boys will be in their teens anyway! I’m trying to read them each book before we watch the movies, but they’ve already seen The Chamber of Secrets — I’ve got some catching up to do!

Clearly, we have a fondness for science fiction and fantasy in our reading material! So, Christmas book-giving season is nearly upon us — what books are on your kids’ wish-lists this year? (Stand by for five more book recommendations for the preschooler in your life!)

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy November 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

I read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing so many times when I was a kid. The fudge series was probably my favourite in Judy Blume’s writings.

2 Allison from November 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

Lloyd Alexander writes great books for boys (and girls).

3 Batman November 17, 2011 at 11:27 am

I like that you added The Hobbit to the list. I remember one of my teachers in Grade 6 reading this book to us in class. I was hooked and it became one of my favourite books. I’m looking forward to the movie.

4 liz November 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm

We loved all of those (though I haven’t read Peter and the Starcatchers yet).
You may want to try the Elizabeth Enright books (start with The Saturdays).

5 Chantal November 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Great list! I read my oldest Tales of a 4th grade nothing and SuperFudge while I was pregnant. I have to admit we have been falling off the reading wagon these days. I need to get back on it! Thankfully my 10yo is a voracious reader on his own, and the 6yo is learning to read now.

6 Heather November 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I devoured Judy Blume as a kid, and I am not surprised she her books remain relevant. Like John Hughes, she knew how to write for the ‘average’ kid.

As for boys, I recommend The Hardy Boys. My husband is an avid sci fi-fantasy reader, but his love of books began with The Hardy Boys. Another author is Gordon Korman,. His books were written for boys, but were so good I read everything he wrote. I loved him so much I got to make the poster for his visit to our school…I can still remember my clever little dingle: ‘Hark! Hark! Korman’s coming to Leslie Park!’

7 Dave November 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I agree w/ Heather, it was the Hardy Boys that got me hooked when I was young. Read all of the original 56 and then started on the newer paperbacks from the library. Still have most of them in a box in my mom’s basement waiting for boys to be ready for them. Gordon Korman is a good call too. Can’t wait until they’re old enough for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Looking forward to the pre-school list!

8 DaniGirl November 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Ha, Dave, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my hand on the (increasingly inaptly named) Hitchhiker Trilogy (in five parts), trying to recall exactly how inappropriate it would be for a seven-year-old!

Funny, I picked up Who Is Bugs Potter on a friend’s rave about Gordon Korman, and we got stuck halfway through. (Sorry Heather!) It got bumped by Peter and the Starcatchers — maybe we’ll go back and pick it up when we’re done The Hobbit?

Hardy Boys, eh? Would you suggest the vintage or modernized versions? Have to admit, although I had a big crush on Shaun Cassidy back in the day, I’ve never cracked the cover on any of the books. (Never read a Nancy Drew either, but I did work my way through a few Bobsey Twins stories.)

9 Leanne November 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm

We finished Coraline last week and started Odd and the Frost Giants the other night. We’re on a bit of a Neil Gaiman kick, obviously. My two, 8 and 4 LOOOOOOVVVVVVEEDDDDD Coraline! And now that we are two chapters into Odd, they are really excited to hop into bed on time 🙂

10 Judy November 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm

My nephews love the Screech Owl series. Neither are big readers, but love these!

11 CQ November 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm

The only book ever read TO me was a 1st grade ‘reader’, The White House(?) about a pair of suburban youngsters.
Instead I devoured cheap comics; stuff like DC’s Superman or The Flash, Richie Rich, Casper & friends, Uncle Scrooge, Mad & Cracked magazines. And often used comic-strip mass paperbacks galore. Books appeared mainly from grade four and up: The Great Brain series, Choose your own Adventures flip books, and the then-still-current Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series.

12 Sara November 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Great list, thanks Dani. My 5 year old and I are working our way through several Geronimo Stilton books and Stuart little right now.

13 Shan @ the fairy blogmother November 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

My five year old and I both love Charlie’s Super Hero Underpants. I can’t count how many times we’ve read it and she’s delighted every time. The Mr Men and Little Miss books are favourites of ours as well. My 9 year old and I have read the Wizard of Oz, Little House on the Prairie and Black Beauty.

14 suze November 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

do you have any reluctance in reading these books (I’m specifically thinking of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson) because of the boys’ ages? I have a 7 year old and although I LOVE HP (and also liked Percy), I don’t know if it’s age-appropriate. I’m really worried about nightmares due to the scary stuff in the stories. Then again, my kids don’t handle scary stuff well. They can’t even watch most Disney movies.
By the way, don’t give up on Gordon Korman. you just picked the wrong book. Try ‘This can’t be happening at Macdonald Hall’. you can’t go wrong.

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