Tag Archives: Stan Lee

Books for Boys 3

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.

The Skull Cave

Back when I was a kid, stumbling across a comic, pretty much any comic, was like finding a gold nugget. The Great Aunts used to have stacks of Women’s Weeklies featuring Mandrake the Magician, the cousins had a treasure trove of Beagle Boys and Scrooge McDuck and the barber generally had bundles of my favourite at the time, The Phantom.

There never seemed to be consecutive copies so the stories didn’t flow too well but that was almost a secondary consideration. I was a sucker for the Ghost Who Walked, lived in a Skull Cave with his dog, Devil, and flew around the world fighting crime. I’d have killed for a Skull ring that punched a skull imprint into bad guys’ jaws. (Green Lantern rings came later.)

Today, following a quick rip through Wikipedia, I’ve learned that one author, Lee Falk, wrote Mandrake and The Phantom. He must have been a predecessor of Stan Lee, who seemed to be responsible for many of my favourites (Fantastic Four, Mighty Thor) as I grew older.

Interestingly, while I was at Bike Club last night I got chatting with the lads about books that got them reading as boys. One of my fellow after-dark crazies cited the Beagle Boys, Casper and Richie Rich as providing his early motivation to read, followed by the Hardy Boys. Comics were and still are an important way into literacy for many boys.

Another mad biker said he’d been reading the re-released Famous Five books to his kids. We all had fond memories of Enid Blyton’s gang of young sleuths. I know the Hardy Boys have had a make-over as a graphic novel series and recently learned the Famous Five have been modernised in book form and animated for TV. Once a good story, always a good story.

Anyway, here’s a pic from a family holiday earlier this year. It reminded me of the Skull Cave and made me want to dive back into boyhood adventuring. Given that I’d just been pulverised surfing, I had to make do watching my son clambering around the cliffs…

Skull Rock, Kennett River