I-Hated-to-Read-Til-I-Read-This Booklist for Boys
Ask a boy who hates to read what he does like to do, and you'll get a surprising array of answers. Everything from playing sports to building models, to dinosaurs and animals to cars, machines, and movies – the funny ones, the sci-fi ones, and the scarier the better. So let that be your guide. Find books that plug into his hobbies and interests – books he'll want to tell his friends about – and he'll be hooked.
ADVANCED READS for tweens and teens, ages 11 up
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE by Gene Luen Yang
Three stories–one following the Chinese folk hero Monkey King, another, the Jin Wang and his struggle to fit in with his American classmates, and a third, of Danny, who changes schools to keep away from his embarrassing cousin–ultimately converge in this graphic novel about race and self-identity.
ASHFALL by Mike Mullin
Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when a supervolcano erupts, descending the world as he knows it into darkness, ash, and violence. All seems hopeles until he teams up with Darla, and together they fight for survival.
DEATH CLOUD (Young Sherlock Holmes series) by Andrew Lane
About to begin his summer vacation from boarding school, the fourteen-year-old Sherlock learns he has to spend the holidays with remote relatives. Before long he becomes deeply involved in attempting to solve a murder mystery, and suddenly Sherlock's summer vacation is anything but dull.
ERAGON (Inheritance Cycle series) by Christopher Paolini
Eragon comes across a mysterious polished blue stone, which soon hatches–and Eragon finds himself in charge of training a baby dragon he names Saphira. King Galbatorix, the feared and hated ruler of all Alagaësia, murders Eragon's uncle, and Eragon and Saphira flee, vowing vengeance.
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST (Fullmetal Alchemist series) by Hiromu Arakawa
This manga follows two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, whose lives–and even their own bodies–have been taken over by the dangerous powers of alchemy.
THE GOATS by Brock Cole
When kids from a summer camp strip and maroon a young boy and girl alone on an island for a night as a prank, the pair–or rather, the "goats"–decide to stay.
THE KID FROM TOMKINSVILLE by John R. Tunis
This classic author of books for boys writes of a young baseball player named Roy Tucker. The pitcher is drafted to the Brooklyn Dodgers to help the team out of a slump, but after a serious accident, Roy must find another place for himself on the team.
LEVIATHAN (Leviathan series) by Scott Westerfeld
Climb on board the Leviathan, a living airship, and join the action with two teenage heroes as they're swept up in an alternate universe version of World War I.
LOCKDOWN (Escape from Furnace series) by Alexander Gordon Smith
Lockdown is a story about criminals and thugs, about monsters and madmen, about a bunch of kids who've been thrown into the most terrifying prison ever conceived.
THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT (Maximum Ride series) by James Patterson
'The Flock', Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel are pretty normal kids–except that they're 98 percent human, 2 percent bird. And they were raised in a lab by evil scientists. And they can fly. Oh–and they've been called on to save the world.
THE MAZE RUNNER and the rest of the series by James Dashner
Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing. He joins a group of boys who have been penned into a large walled-in area called the Glade, which opens up to a maze every morning. When the first girl joins them the next day, Thomas realizes he may be more important than he could ever guess.
THE MOVES MAKE THE MAN by Bruce Brooks
Jerome Foxworthy, basketball extraordinaire, can handle anything–he grew up without a father, he was the first black kid in his school. When Jerome meets Bix Rivers, Jerome takes it upon himself to teach his new friend all his greatest moves.
THE OBSIDIAN BLADE (Klaatu Diskos series) by Pete Hautman
Around Tucker's idyllic town of Hopewell, unearthly disks appear, suspended in the sky. Not everyone can see them, but for those who can, the disks serve as portals to other places and times. When Tucker's parents disappear, it's up to him to find them, against all the ghosts, mega-maggots, futuristic medicine and weapons that come in his path.
THE RED PYRAMID (The Kane Chronicles series) by Rick Riordan
Fourteen-year-old Carter Kane and his twelve-year-old sister Sadie Kane discover that the blood of the pharaohs runs through their veins, and they are the most powerful royal children to be born in centuries. Can they summon enough magic to rescue their father and reconcile the gods with the Per Ankh, the House of Life, before Set—the Red Lord, the evil god of chaos—destroys North America and more?
SCORPIA RISING (Alex Rider series) by Anthony Horowitz
After eight dangerous and daring missions, teen spy Alex Rider has come to his last. But this mission is like no other. The danger is greater, the stakes higher, the villains deadlier, as Alex once again goes up against Scorpia, the terrorist organization that he's fought and barely defeated twice before.
DISASTERS: Natural and Man-Made Catastrophes through the Centuries by Brenda Guiberson
Ten well-known catastrophes including the great Chicago fire, the sinking of the Titanic, and hurricane Katrina are dissected alongside detailed photographs and drawings.
SHIPWRECK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD by Jennifer Armstrong
In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton attempted to be the first explorer to cross Antarctica by foot "from sea to sea," but he and his team never reached their objective. The ship became entrapped in ice, and the men were forced to abandon their mission and try to survive in the brutally harsh Antarctic wasteland for 19 months.
WE ARE THE SHIP: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
Kadir Nelson says in his Author's Note, "I chose to present the voice of the narrator as a collective voice, the voice of every player, the voice of we." It takes about a page before you figure this out, and then it feels like everyone is telling you stories about what it was like to be a Negro League player.
GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS 2012
PAGETURNERS for ages 8-12
ASTRONAUT ACADEMY by Dave Roman
Hakata Soy leaves his past as the leader of a superhero team to attend Astronaut Academy, a school on a space station orbiting Earth. He hopes to make a fresh start in life, but his heroic past keeps catching up with him.
CHARLIE JOE JACKSON by Tommy Greenwald
Charlie Joe shares the tactics that have gotten him all the way to Middle School without EVER reading a whole book. Reluctant readers ready to learn his secrets will find instead that they have just finished (and enjoyed!) an entire book.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (Wimpy Kid series) by Jeff Kinney
Writing and drawing his stick-figure pictures in his new journal helps Greg deal with middle school, overbearing parents, and two brothers.
THE HAUNTED SCHOOL (Goosebumps series) by R.L. Stine
Tommy has a hard time making new friends at his new school. And the school is big–so big, Tommy gets lost. And that's when he hears the voices, kids crying for help, coming from beyond the classroom walls…
HERO by Mike Lupica
Fourteen- year-old Zach Harriman knows he has a pretty amazing dad. He accepts that his dad's job as a government agent with a high security clearance means that Zachary must be kept in the dark about much of what he does. When Zach's father dies in an airplane crash, Zach starts to learn just how many secrets his dad really had, including his super-hero powers–and that the powers are hereditary.
THE LIGHTNING THIEF (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) by Rick Riordan
Percy is about to find out the truth about the father he's never met. "Lost at sea" is all his mother has ever told him. Well, Percy's father is a god. A Greek god. A real one. And that makes Percy a demigod, a half-blood, and he's now in mortal danger.
MIDDLE SCHOOL: THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE (Middle School series) by James Patterson
Middle School doesn't begin well for Rafe Khatchadorian. Between run-ins with the school bully, Miller "The Killer" and a book of rules that the school actually takes seriously, to say Rafe is disillusioned with the educational system would be understatement. And so it's totally understandable when his best friend, Leonardo, suggests that Rafe set out to break every rule in the book.
SIDEKICKS by Dan Santat
In this graphic novel romp, Superhero Captain Amazing needs a new sidekick. Enter four super pets, all vying for the coveted spot as his right-hand man… er… animal.
THE STORM MAKERS by Jennifer Smith
Twins Ruby and Simon move to a Wisconsin farm, and suffer the consequences of the worst drought in history. Enter MOSS, the Makers of Storm Society, and Simon discovers he holds powerful weather-changing powers.
SWINDLE (Swindle series) by Gordon Korman
Griffin sells an old Babe Ruth baseball carp to a memorabilia shop, where the owner gives him 120 bucks for the card, claiming it is a knockoff made in 1967. What a liar! Griffin soon sees the dealer being interviewed on TV, showing the selfsame 1920 baseball card, worth a cool million. Griffin assembles a heist team and together they plan to steal back that card.
THE UNWANTEDS and others in the series by Lisa McCann
In Quill there are three types of people: Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds. Wanteds, as their name suggests, are the most valued members of society. Necessaries are tolerated for whatever menial skill they may possess. And Unwanteds, typically those showing a flare for creativity and resistance to conformity, are put to their deaths. Or so the Quillians think.
THE WITCHES by Roald Dahl
A recently-orphaned boy stumbles upon the yearly meeting of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children while staying at a posh hotel. But wait. These are not ordinary ladies. Alas, the group is actually made up of nasty witches, who are meeting to hatch a hideous plan to turn all of the children in England into mice.
BABY MAMMOTH MUMMY by Christopher Sloan
The discovery of baby mammoth Lyuba allows for a never-before-seen inside look at prehistoric Sibera, 31,000 years later.
EVERY DAY ON EARTH: Fun Facts That Happen Every 24 Hours by Steve & Matthew Murrie
Your taste bud cells are replaced at a rate of 50,000 a day. Almost 40,000 trees are cut down every day just to make paper bags. What else happens around the Earth in the span of a day?
GREAT MOMENTS IN THE SUMMER OLYMPICS by Matt Christopher and Stephanie Peters
Relive great moments in Olympic summer sports history, especially in the games of Track and Field, Gymnastics, and Swimming.
GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL POOP by Dawn Cusick
There comes a time in every kid's life when poop becomes an object of fascination, and this entertaining and informative introduction to coprology, the study of feces, is sure to satisfy every imaginable scatological curiosity.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2013
TRANSITIONAL BOOKS for ages 7-10
BAD KITTY GETS A BATH and other titles by Nick Bruel
You think you have a problem pet that rules your roost? Get a load of this quintessential bad kitty, a sleek, black, rowdy ruffian who is none too happy about getting a bath. OK, that's an understatement.
THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (Captain Underpants series) by Dav Pilkey
George and Harold hypnotize their principal, mean Mr. Krupp, and turn him into their superhero creation Captain Underpants.
DINOSAURS BEFORE DARK (Magic Tree House series) by Mary Pope Osborne
A mysterious treehouse whisks Annie and Jack to the past–and in this first novel, that means the land of the dinosaurs. But how will they get home?
DRAGONBREATH: CURSE OF THE WERE-WIENER (Dragonbreath series) by Ursula Vernon
At lunchtime in the school cafeteria that day, Danny's overly large and bright red hot dog bites Wendell's finger. By the next day, Wendell's finger has turned candy-apple red, and his back is growing hair. Sneaking into the cafeteria's walk-in freezer to investigate, Danny finds an unusual package of hot dogs with the label "Were-Wieners, a product of Transylvania."
EVERY THING ON IT by Shel Silverstein
A new collection of 30 never-before-seen poems and drawings from the remarkable writer and artist Shel Silverstein.
THE FENWAY FOUL-UP (Ballpark Mysteries series) by David Kelly
Can Mike and Kate solve the mystery of who stole the Red Sox's star player's lucky bat, right in front of everyone's noses? Each book in this series is set in a different American ballpark stadium.
HORRID HENRY (Horrid Henry series) by Francesca Simon
Horrid Henry and his neighbor Moody Margaret set out to make the grossest sludge ever glopped together.
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate
Ivan barely remembers his life before the mall. He has some wonderful friends: there's Stella, the stoic elephant twice his size; there's Bob, the homeless-by-choice dog who sneaks into the mall every night and sleeps on Ivan's big belly; and there's Julia, the human daughter of George the custodian, who does her homework by Ivan's domain every evening and who shares a love of art with him. Yes, that's right: Ivan is an artist.
SQUISH: SUPER AMOEBA by Jennifer Holm
Squish is an amoeba in elementary school with a good heart but facing a lot of obstacles. A mysterious enemy is threatening our hero, as if the usual pitfalls of weird parents, obnoxious bullies, homework, and more weren't enough. Kids will really identify with this unlikely hero who has to save the world even though all he really wants to do is get through the week.
THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS by Jon Scieszka
Alexander T. Wolf would like to set the record straight. He says, "I don't know how this whole Big Bad Wolf thing got started, but it's all wrong . . . The real story is about a sneeze and a cup of sugar."
ENCYLOPEDIA PREHISTORICA by Robert Sabuda
A look at all things dinosaur, packing in facts on more than 50 species, and the six major watercolored pop-ups are spectacular.
HENRY AARON'S DREAM by Matt Tavares
Every kid has a wish–a dream for his or her own future. Henry Aaron was no exception. He wanted to play baseball, but baseball stadiums in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama in the 1940s were for "WHITES ONLY." It took perseverance, enormous talent, and courage for Henry Aaron to not only hold onto his vision, but also to make it a reality.
WEIRD BUT TRUE: 300 Outrageous Facts by National Geographic Kids
Did you know that… The world's oldest pet goldfish lived to be 43 years old? The world's longest soap bubble was as long as four school buses? On Neptune, the wind blows up to 1,243 miles an hour? The whole family will be dazed and amazed by this remarkable assortment of crazy but very true facts.
YOU NEVER HEARD OF SANDY KOUFAX? by Jonah Winter
For six years, 1961-1966, Koufax was known as the greatest lefty pitcher ever. Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer, Willie Stargell, said, "Hittin' a Koufax fastball was like tryin' to drink coffee with a fork." In high school, this Jewish kid from Brooklyn aced every sport, and soon the scouts came calling. This has to be the coolest-looking sports biography ever.