Book List, Books, childhood

Boys Read, Too! The Modern List

I started this yesterday, with my musings on the offerings of traditional publishing for teen boys. Middle grade readers (intended for roughly second through sixth grade children) have plenty of titles meant for boys to enjoy – not always starring a boy, but the sort of action and adventure tales that will attract them and keep them interested. But when you get into the young adult books, there is a paucity of material for the guys. I found this to be true when I was a librarian and responsible for the YA collection, and it’s still true now.

So I went to my friends and groups of readers and asked for suggestions. I knew I’d get floods of ‘Heinlein! Norton! ER Burroughs!’ and I did. The problem is that modern readers, and particularly kids that haven’t grown up in a household where reading the classics was emphasized, will have problems accessing those books without some preparation. The literary style has changed, language usage is different, and technology has advanced all out of proportion. Which is not to say that those books aren’t fully worthy of recommending to the modern youth. They are, and as a parent I mean to make them available and as appealing as possible to my kids. But I’ll address this more in tomorrow’s post on Classics.

Today, I am limiting the scope of this list to modern literary style novels. To loosely define modern, here, I’m sticking with books that were published after 1980 (a slightly arbitrary choice) which will likely be similar to the books the kids are familiar with from their school libraries. The books on the list may not have a male main character, because boys can engage perfectly well with a girl – provided the girl isn’t swanning around talking about shoes and boys all the time. My son has been happily reading princess stories where there is dragon training and adventures going on. One of the issues I’m having with the modern YA, as I referenced yesterday, is that the vast majority of it is romance-centric. I didn’t like that as a teen girl, so I suspect this list I’m putting together will be a good one for girls like me who craved intelligence and adventure in their reading, too.

This list is slanted toward younger teens, to suit my own kids. Personally, I was reading adult books at a very young age – I think I was into my Dad’s L’Amours when I was 7 or 8 – and any avid young reader is going to do the same thing, reading without much regard for ‘recommended age’. But for the purposes of this list, I’ve left out the recommended bridge books for a kid to read and enjoy adult books. I may do a list of those, but on the other hand, the MHI Group list would be just as good a jumping-off point for any avid reader, young or old.

I’ve sorted the list by how many votes each title (or author) got. Kid recommendations were awarded an extra vote. Books on school recommended reading lists were weighted with a negative vote – while they may be very good books, just the fact that kids must be required to read them makes me look askance at them. Personally as a kid, I hated to be told ‘you must read this’ and it’s part of the reason I loathe Hemingway with a flaming passion to this very day. You shouldn’t do that to your sixth-grader. As always, YMMV, and parents, do your research. My shibboleths won’t be yours.

Title Author Vote Publication Date Notes Amazon Link
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Rick Riordan 10 2009 kid-recommended
Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card 6 1984 Science Fiction
Hatchet Gary Paulsen 6 1987 Realistic fiction, Kid Recommended
Star Kingdom Series David Weber and Jane Lindskold 5 2013 Science Fiction
Johnny Maxwell Trilogy Terry Pratchett 5 2009 Science Fiction
Heroes of Olympus Rick Riordan 5 2012 Kid recommended
Song of the Lioness Quartet Tamora Pierce 4 1983 fantasy
Artemis Fowl Eoin Colfer 4 2001 kid-recommended
Holes Louis Sachar 3 1999 Magical Realism
Rot & Ruin Jonathan Maberry 3 2010 Zombies
The Maze Runner James Dashner 3 Kid recommended
ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN , Sherman Alexie. 2 2007 On school recommended reading lists
Changeling’s Island Dave Freer 2 2016 fantasy
Dragon and Thief Timothy Zahn 2 2004 Science Fiction
The Thief of Always Clive Barker 2 1993 Horror
The Dog who Wouldn’t Be Farley Mowat 2 1984 Pet story – almost non-fiction
Family Law Mackey Chandler 2 2012 Science Fiction
Wildside Steven Gould 2 2010 Alternate Universe
Epic, Saga Conor Kostick 2 2008 kid-recommended
Janitors Tyler Whitesides 2 2011 Kid recommended
I AM THE MESSENGER , Marcus Zusak 1 2007 noir, older teens
Life As We Knew It Susan Beth Pfeffer 1 2008 Dystopian
Billion dollar boy Charles Sheffield 1 1997 SF, updated Captains Courageous
Theodore Boone John Grisham 1 2012 Lawyers fiction
The Lost Gate (Mither Mages) Orson Scott Card 1 2011 Fantasy
Cuttlefish Dave Freer 1 2012 Steampunk
The Jedi Academy Kevin Anderson 1 2011 Star Wars
Struts and Frets Jon Skovron 1 2011 Music and growing up
The Last Thing I Remember Andrew Klavan 1 2010 Mystery Thriller
Leviathan Scott Westerfield 1 2009 Steampunk
The Screaming Staircase Jonathan Stroud 1 2013 Fantasy
The Iron Trial Holly Black and Cassandra Clare 1 2015 Fantasy
Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain Richard Roberts 1 2014 Superheroic
Infinity: Chronicles of Nick Sherilyn Kenyon 1 2010 Vampires and Slayers
Ranger’s Apprentice John A Flanagan 1 2006 Fantasy

12 thoughts on “Boys Read, Too! The Modern List

  1. I’m not sure that I’d put “The Thief Of Always” on that list–I found it really disturbing.

  2. I definitely agree with the Zahn Dragonback series. I used Amazon to scare up the whole set (several different sellers) in paperback to give to my then 11 year old grandson for Christmas 2014 . His school doesn’t allow ereaders (yet). I got them in ebook for myself through the Matchbook program at the same time so I could re-read the first few and then finish reading the series. When I saw him the following March for his birthday, he had loved them.

      1. Oh I did, too. I just wouldn’t give it to a kid.
        AS Misha said, pretty disturbing.

        “Oh, not all of us. I was reading Edgar Rice Burroughs at the tender age of ten” Now I feel old. And speaking of vocab- ERB was another Master.

  3. I don’t see N.D. Wilson’s novels here, and I highly recommend them. He wrote the 100 Cupboard trilogy, the Ashtown Burials series, and is currently working on the Outlaws of Time series.

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