Middle Grades

Call it Courage    (Armstrong Sperry)

Kidnapped  (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Johnny Tremain    (Esther Hoskins Forbes)

​Redwall (series) (Brian Jacques)

​Harry Potter (series) (J K Rowling)

​Call of the Wild (Jack London)

​Hatchet  (Gary Paulsen)

The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)

My Side of the Mountain (Jean George)

​Far North (Will Hobbs)

Bubo the Great Horned Owl (Jean George)

 Books for Boys
                                        How to get your boy to put down the controller and pick up a book


There was a time when almost all of the heroes that kids found in books were boys—Mafatu in Call it Courage, Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island, Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings, and more recently, Harry Potter. But times have changed. Now girls read, boys play video games, and the heroes in our books are most likely to be strong girls such as Katniss Everdeen and Beatrice Prior. We can all applaud the fact that our daughters can now read about resilient young women who are at the heart of a great adventure story and not either a damsel in distress or a secondary character. But what about our sons? Where they are concerned, are we to surrender the field to HALO and Call of Duty? Looking at the current book market, it appears that the answer is yes. I don’t pretend that I can balance out this trend in favor of our boys, but one of my goals in writing the Saga of Roland Inness was to offer a protagonist that boys could more readily identify with. Because boys, after all, need heroes too.


In their heart of hearts, boys want to be heroes.  They know that in the modern world, being a hero is a long shot, but they wish it all the same.  Some are lucky enough to be good athletes or gifted musicians and are treated like heroes. Others simply harbor the ambition deep inside their young male brains.  And what are the qualities of a classic hero? Courage, of course—can he face his fears and persevere? Intelligence—can he outsmart the forces arrayed against him? Determination--can he keep going when all seems lost? Kindness—this one may be a bit surprising, but being kind to those in need of help is a classic trait of a hero.  


Traditionally, boys have found their heroic role models in fathers, sports heroes, and perhaps at the movies, but they could also be found in books.  Great classics adventure stories inspired me as a kid and are no less relevant today.  Now the primary outlet for the heroic impulse in boys can be found in video games.  Unfortunately, these tend to be brutally violent, and worse, they offer boys the chance to be fake heroes right now—rather than inspiring them to be real heroes in the future.


I have started a blog (www.bestboysbooks.wordpress.com) to talk about how parents can pry their son's sticky little fingers off that game controller and get him reading.  Girls have been inspired by new series such as the Hunger Games and Divergent.  They are reading.  Let’s get the boys doing the same by reading to them from the time they are infants until they choose to read on their own. At that point, give them books that appeal to that secret hunger—books about heroes!  Below, I've recommended some books that will fire up your boy's imagination and appeal to the the secret hero in him!  Most of these are classics you may already be familiar with.  I will be adding less well known books over time to this list and on my blog.

My Blog

Recommended Books

Young Adult

Horatio Hornblower (series)  (CS Forester)​

The Ring Trilogy  (JRR Tolkien)

​The Long Ships  (Frans G. Bengtsson)

Last of the Breed (Louis L'Amour)

Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry)

​The Killer Angels (Michael Shaara)

Jubal Sackett (Louis L'Amour)