I love books. As a kid I was an avid reader and still am as an adult (though I don’t have as much time to read as I would like!) My son, now 11, since a very young age, like 3 or 4, is also an avid reader and gobbles up books quickly. Often taking 20 or 30 books out of the library and bringing them home, all to be read within a couple of days.
I know it is not common for boys to be avid book readers, and for that I feel blessed, as I think reading is such an important part of life, whether we are reading for work or pleasure it is something to be enjoyed, not a chore to be endured. It’s a place to expand your imagination and learn about new places, people and things fictional or not.
As a result I also hope to instill a love reading with the twins. I read to them each night before bed, and sometimes stories during the day when we can steal an extra moment to sit down together and enjoy. Matthew, my oldest has read 100’s of books, many of his favorite books over and over. From Fantastic Mr. Fox (love Roald Dahl) to Percy Jackson and Goosebumps, when he has down time, there’s a book in his hand, regardless of how many times he may have read it before.
Knowing he needed a few new books to expand his reading (and the need to round out a very expensive and heavily electronic Christmas list) we treked off to Chapters one night to see what was new and up and coming for boys his age.
I was surprised to find that many of the books for boys have similar themes, adventure stories, with a young hero who has to fight some battle and yes – kill someone to win. Gone are the days when Judy Blume was risque and The Hardy Boys were the norm. I was a little torn at suggesting titles for Matthew as I really didn’t feel like he needed any more battle and killing stories (I think balance and variety are important). But I’ve also noticed that many of these books are also falling along the lines of entering different realms or worlds, psychic or intuitive abilities, and a female hero right along side the young male one. I guess you take some good with the bad.
We did discover some great titles that night that Matthew expressed interest in. The Seven Wonders (by Peter Lerangis one of the authors of the popular series The 39 Clues) – a young boy with a genetic trait that makes him too strong too fast and must save the world, The Unwanteds – described as The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter, Five Kingdoms and the The Accidental Hero to name a few. All are series which Matthew could get into (heck I could get into, I’ve always enjoyed young adult books and have made it a habit to read what Matthew’s reading. I think it’s important to know what he is reading and also a great connection point to chat about the stories and share views) and have a lots of books to read for awhile.
I also recently discovered a blog post by Jackie at Happy Hooligans sharing her top 40 list for boys 8-16, which I felt was perfect timing. Though I do not agree with all her picks (some we have read already, some are not that great in my opinion) there are a lot of good ones and provided more options to perhaps expand Matthew’s reading reperatoire – you know show him that there is more than just battles, blood and killing in books.
I also know that books are personal and a book that I love may not be one that someone else does. I remember one time my best friend highly recommended this book to me, which I attempted to read 3 times, but just couldn’t get into it, so I gave up. We had similar interests but not in this case. And there are so many good books out there that I am totally ok with not finishing a book just because someone said it was good. (The same thing happened to me with The Poisonwood Bible and the Lord Of The Rings, just couldn’t get through them).
Not necessarily new this year, but other titles that I love (Matthew enjoys) and think are great for this age group are books by Eric Wilson, a Canadian author. He writes mystery books set in different parts of Canada, such as The Green Gables Detectives; featuring a brother and sister team who are always in the ‘right’ place and end up solving the crime. It’s a great and interesting way for youth to learn about Canada and some of its beautiful landmarks and places.
Always popular for 9-12 year olds is also Artemis Fowl, 12 year old billionaire genius who gets caught up in the Fairy World and The Ranger’s Apprentice – which we all enjoyed, Mum, Dad and Matthew, about a young boy who becomes an apprentice ranger, guardian and defender of the kingdom.
I always say you can never go wrong with a book and it’s just a matter of finding a theme that interests you to instill your love of reading. There are tons of books out there with a variety of themes to choose from. Check out some of these titles and some of the one’s on the Happy Hooligans list as well. I’m sure you’ll find something that’ll fit your young reader and perhaps make a great stocking stuffer.
What are some book titles that you’ve discovered that are great for boys of this age?