Getting boys to read isn’t always easy. Reading has to compete with far more enticing and sociable activities such as computer games and football where the pay-offs are much quicker. Not all boys will sit still long enough to get hooked by a book. If they are reluctant readers or find themselves falling behind, then being forced to read dull babyish books can make the situation worse. A boring book is never going to inspire him with a love of reading.
So if you want to set your son’s imagination on fire, here’s my personal list of the best books to make boys love reading (8 years and upwards) – reluctant readers or otherwise. Each one of them made a real contribution to my own boys’ progress and enjoyment of reading – I hope they do the same for yours!
Fantastic story-telling make Tintin’s adventures real page-turners, with the added advantage of fabulous artwork that encourages the reader to fill in the gaps with their own imagination. Can be read again and again and again. Buy in Volumes or as individual stories. The Adventures of Tintin: Volume 1 (Compact Editions): “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets”, “Tintin in the Congo” v. 1 (The Adventures of Tintin – Compact Editions)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney (8yrs+)
Puts a comic twist on the everyday life of a not very heroic boy. Great mix of text and pictures in an informal font makes this a non-threatening and slightly subversive read. If he likes the first one, there’s a whole series to read which is a real bonus! Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1)
A partying zombie whose arms keep falling off! A short easy-to-read romp with slugs, lemonade, jokes and rotting flesh – will leave him wanting to read more. From the fantastic dyslexia friendly publishers Barrington Stoke, a well written comic gem to engage kids whose interest level is ahead of their reading level. Zombie! If he likes this then also try An Alien Ate Me for Breakfast by Eric Brown.
One-Nil by Tony Bradman (8-11yrs, reading level 8yrs)
Does your son prefer kicking a ball to reading a book? Then this book may be his gateway to reading. Every football-loving boy’s fantasy: a chance to meet the England team and maybe get to play with them and even score a goal… A short book (so not daunting) with a few pictures and lots of visual spaces to break up the text. One Nil
If history is more his thing then this story about a young Roman boy’s adventures is truly compelling. Tense, suspenseful and a teeny bit gruesome so possibly not for a more sensitive 8 year old. Boys who are used to 12A films but whose reading level lags behind just a little will really love this. Assassin
All of the comic genius that is Jeremy Strong but written in language suitable for delayed readers. The friendly font and short paragraphs make this extra accessible, and it’s taking a dig at parents which always goes down well…. Living with Vampires
Harking back to an era when kids played outside from dawn till dusk making camps and catapults, this fabulous book includes chapters on unlikely events (How to survive a shark attack), classic survival skills (How to gut a fish) and more mundane matters (How to survive at the school disco). The Boys’ Book of Survival: How to Survive Anything, Anywhere If he likes this one, also try The Dangerous Book for Boys
and The Boys’ Book: How to be the Best at Everything
A bit gruesome and more ‘teenage’ but truly gripping. Perfect for a generation used to sword-wielding X-box games. The cover looks great so there’s no need to feel embarrassed reading it, and there is some beautiful artwork inside too. Even if he has never shown an interest in books before or just struggles with reading, this may be the book to light your boy’s fire and open his eyes to just how exciting books can be! Samurai
There are some scary moments in this series, so not for the easily frightened. The language is challenging and the font is small so it might be daunting for younger readers. But as a reading experience, it is gripping and as close as he will get to (the more familiar experience of) watching a great action movie. Which I guess is why these books made such good films! Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (Book 1)
The 5 Lords of Pain series by James Lovegrove (11yrs+, reading level 8yrs)
If he wants the thrill of an action adventure to engage his interest but can’t yet cope with the language and length of Percy Jackson then The 5 Lords of Pain series is a good stepping stone. Martial arts page-turner: this was the first book my son read all in one sitting, he just could not put it down and could not wait to start the next one in the series. Dyslexia friendly font, spacing and page tint. The Lord of the Mountain (Five Lords of Pain Book 1)
UPDATE: The 5 Lords of Pain series is going out of print so you may need to source them second hand. Or, alternatively, the publisher (www.barringtonstoke.co.uk) recommends Gamer (Chris Bradford), Ghost Stadium (Tom Palmer) or The Night Raid (Caroline Lawrence) as alternatives. Please comment and let us know if you agree!
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Teenagers)
Its view of space and technology might be a little dated but the deadpan tone, bizarre characters and comic sense of the surreal make this an engaging read for teenage boys who are transitioning to more grown up humour. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: 1/5
What are your recommendations for books to make boys love reading?
This is not a sponsored post. All the books reviewed were bought or received as Christmas/birthday presents from friends and family and are thoroughly recommended. It does however contain affiliate links which means that if you click through to Amazon from the links in this post and buy one of the books, I will earn a small fee.
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