I’ve had a few invitations lately to talk about books for boys. It’s a topic I’m passionate about and all too pleased to tackle. Hey, I’ve been reading for a long time now and I truly believe certain books have made me the person I am. That’s how important finding the right books can be.
On Tuesday night (International Women’s Day) I spoke to approximately 40 fathers and Year 7 sons, at St Bernard’s College in Essendon, on this exact topic. It was a great turnout, given the guys could have been home watching Top Gear on tele. I probably rambled on too long but that’s the risk when I’m recommending books to read.
Several of the father’s present asked me to publish the list of books that I spoke about so here it is. As time permits, I’ll add synopses for the stories as well. Those marked GN are graphic novels.
For primary age readers:
The Dumb Bunnies series, the Captain Underpants series, Dogzilla all by Dav Pikey.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
For upper primary – lower secondary:
The Samurai Kids series by Sandy Fussell
The OK Team series by Nick Place
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Rapunzel and Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale (GN)
Chess Nuts by Julia Lawrinson
The Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy
Blood Ninja by Nick Lake
Marvel 70th Anniversary Collection by various authors including Stan Lee (GN)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Burning Eddy by Scot Gardner
Vulture’s Gate by Kirsty Murray
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
The Tomorrow When the War Began series by John Marsden
The Spook’s Apprentice Series by Joseph Delaney
For mid to upper secondary readers:
Boys of Blood & Bone by David Metzenthen
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
The Cave by Susanne Gervay
Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight by Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
One Dead Seagull and White Ute Dreaming by Scot Gardner, not to mention Gravity and all Scot’s other books
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller (GN)
Fighting Ruben Wolf; The Underdog; The Messenger – all by Markus Zusak who is better known for The Book Thief
Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska by John Green
Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin
The Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn (book 1 Across the Nightingale Floor)
Kill the Possum by James Moloney
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
The Beginner’s Guide to Living by Lia Hills
Bladerunner by Philip K Dick (alternate title Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
And can I throw in Game as Ned and Five Parts Dead by me?
A few quick comments:
- Most of these are great books for female readers, too. Some have tough and inspiring female protagonists. They just happen to be books that I think will work with male reader for some of the reasons I explain in this post.
- I’m biased toward fiction but if your son prefers non-fiction, find what interests him and go with that. I’ll post more on this in future as several people asked how to get their sons reading fiction.
- Graphic novels are a great way to suck people into reading stories because they feel more like TV. My favourite iPad app comes from Comixology and lets me select from a massive range of graphic novels, with many samples for free. For example, Bladerunner, cited above, has been serialised as a graphic novel, under the original title. I’m also looking at some of Frank Miller’s earlier work on Wolverine. Comics on offer include age ratings in case you’re concerned your offspring might select something too edgy.
- There are other highly recommended books I could include, such as Robert Muchamore’s Cherub series. I haven’t read these yet so, until I do, they don’t make the cut.
Hopefully you’ll find something on the list you and your sons can agree on and enjoy. After all, if you both read a book, there’s common ground for a conversation.