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.
My brain has gone into summer shutdown mode so I’m not sure I’ll have any meaningful insights into the writing life today. However, I would like to thank everyone who has purchased Game as Ned, borrowed it from a library or even borrowed it from a friend to read. If you liked it, please spread the word.
Thanks too, to those fearless folk who have been willing to read drafts of my current manuscript, to those who invited me to speak at your school and to anyone who has come along and checked out this blog or my book trailer. I wish you all a laughter-soaked Christmas and adventurous, fun-filled 2009.
Here are a few random musings on the year that is fading into memory:
Album of the year as far as my ears go, was Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’. Others I’ve listened to a lot include Angus & Julia Stone’s ‘A Book Like This’, Goldfrapp’s ‘Seventh Tree’, the John Butler Trio’s ‘Grand National’, Josh Pyke’s ‘Chimney’s Afire’ and Arcade Fire’s ‘Neon Bible’. At present I’m chortling to CW Stoneking’s ‘Jungle Blues’ and about to dive into the highly acclaimed Fleet Foxes.
Not a great year for cinema in my opinion. I enjoyed ‘Juno’ and ‘Iron Man’, but ‘The Dark Knight’ is the only flick that stands tall in my memory. I had high hopes for the new Indiana Jones but it couldn’t live up to my teen memories.
I’ve just finished Maureen McCarthy’s ‘Somebody’s Crying’, which I really enjoyed. It’s not often these days that I dream about book characters but the lead trio in this murder mystery clearly made a big impression on me. I’m now plunging into the much-praised ‘Before I Die’ by Jenny Downham … not very festive, I know.
As to other favourite YA books I read in 08, I’d pick John Green’s ‘Looking for Alaska’, James Moloney’s ‘Kill the Possum’, and ‘Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight’ by Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow. My son and I are also loving the junior fiction ‘Samurai Kids’ series by Sandy Fussell.
Titles I want to get to over the break are Tim Winton’s ‘Breath’, Richard Flanagan’s ‘The Unknown Terrorist’ and Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’.
And the rest