Reading is more important than ever for boys, especially in the formative “tween” years. The U.S. Department of Education’s reading tests for the last 30 years show boys scoring lower than girls in every age group. Reading skills are also directly correlated with academic performance: students who read are more enthusiastic about learning. They spend less time in the detention room and more time getting college degrees.
For parents with “tween” boys, summer is the prefect time to encourage reading. The challenge is to find books that appeal to their interests. Here are six books that most boys will love.
1: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Boy-genius, Ender Wiggin, is the last hope to save humanity. As he trains in battle school with a mix of war games and computer simulations, he explores his own psychology, humanity, and his often-violent relationships with the other boys in the battle school. Ender’s Game is a classic coming-of-age tale, mixed with sci-fi themes. It’s gripping and the ending will leave you speechless.
2: Redwall by Brian Jacques
Redwall is an action packed story starring anthropomorphized woodland creatures. The story’s unlikely hero is a mouse named Matthias. When a marauding rat (Cluny the Scourge) and his hoard of stoats and weasels attack Redwall, Matthias must find the legendary sword of Martin the Warrior in order to defeat the invading army. Redwall is part of a larger series that creates an elaborate fantasy world with a long history. Readers can read them chronologically or as stand-alone stories.
3: Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
Charles Carter is a world-known magician in the 1920s. He gets caught up in a conspiracy involving the death of U.S. President Warren G. Harding. This story presents a carousel of historical figures, secret service agents and plot twists. In the end, Carter must use his cunning and powers of magical illusion to save the day.
4: My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Sam Gribley hates living in New York City, so he decides to run away to the Catskill Mountains. He has adventures with a variety of characters as he learns to survive in the wilderness. Sam must learn to balance his desire to be with his family with his desire to be self-sufficient in the wild.
5: Holes by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats is a poor and unlucky boy who gets sent to a juvenile detention center for a crime he didn’t commit. The evil “Mr. Sir” and Warden Walker run the camp. They force the boys to dig holes in the desert as punishment for their various crimes. The story connects the history of the area and the ancestors of the characters to the present day. Holes has it all: buried treasure, a curse, legendary Wild West bandits, daring escapes, and strong friendships.
6: Danny, The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl is one of the best children’s writers of all time. Danny, The Champion of the World is one of his lesser-known books, but deserves to make the list. After Danny finds out that his father poaches pheasants from the vile Mr. Hazell’s estate, he devises a brilliant plan and helps his father steal all the birds. The story has a good mix of humor, adventure, and bonding between a father and son.
There are lots of other great books for tween boys—please share some of your favorites?
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Brilliant or Insane contributor Forrest Miller is a writer and an educator, specializing in ESL. He is from Oregon, currently living and teaching in China.