To answer this question emailed from a Louisiana father, Parents’ Choice decided to form an investigative committee. Librarians, youth services directors and eleven year old boys were asked to select a list of non-fiction and fiction titles that genuinely enticed them. It was a two-month project, requiring more time and work than anyone had expected.
But not surprisingly the books finally agreed to are colorful, factual, and fanciful. They contain adventure, suspense, humor, mystery and they reflect universal human values.
Our lead investigator was respected children’s librarian Ellen Messing who long worked for the public library of Wellesley and neighboring Winchester Massachusetts. Her own group included library youth service directors April Mazza and Kelly Wood, both from these communities. Neighborhood boys, too participated. Beyond this committee Ellen interviewed other individuals. She worked with precision and doggedness until the titles reflected the thoughts and tastes of the entire group. They, like we are proud of their selections.
Please note that most links will open a new window showing the book on Amazon.com.
Realism & SurvivalAbbott’s series feature fun and adventure.
Danger Guys and the Golden Lizard (Danger Guys Stories) HarperTrophy, ISBN: 0064420116, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet (Secrets of Droon Series) Little Apple, ISBN: 0590108395, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Avi writes good solid stories: Poppy is a deer mouse and her tales revolve around other animals in the meadow, while McKinley in The Good Dog is a sled dog torn between his human family and the wild world of Lupin, who is out to replenish his wolf pack.
The Good Dog Atheneum, ISBN: 0689838247, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Poppy (Series) Camelot, ISBN: 0380727692, Ages 9 & Up
Summerland is a treat where a “less than mediocre Little League player “ is recruited by a mystical 100 year old scout and accepts a mission to overthrow the evil, shape-changing overlord, Coyote. Shades of Narnia and the Hobbit say some. A challenge for older readers.
Summerland Hyperion Press, ISBN: 0786816155, Ages 9 & Up
Science FictionColfer’s Artemis books are extremely popular and creative! “When a twelve-year old genius tries to demand a ransom, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.”
Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl Series) Hyperion Press, ISBN: 0786817070, Ages 10 & up
Science FictionCrilley’s Earthling hero, fourth-grader Akiko, joins an intergalactic cast of characters in a mission to rescue Prince Froptoppit of the Planet Smoo.
Akiko on the Planet Smoo (Akiko Series) Delacorte Press, ISBN: 0385327242, Ages 10 & up
Oldies, but still goodies.
Hardy Boys Starter Set Platt & Munk, ISBN: 0448416719, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Time TravelKnight’s castle by Eager follows four cousins who find themselves back in the times of Robin Hood and Ivanhoe!
Knight’s Castle Harcourt, ISBN: 015202073X, Ages 7 - 9 yrs.
Fantasy and SurvivalThe Thief Lord by Funke is the newest book on this list: an exciting story about 2 brothers who run away to Venice, Italy, their aunt who hires a detective to track them down and the mysterious thief lord who takes them under his wing.
The Thief Lord Scholastic, ISBN: 0439404371, Ages 10 & up
The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot (Zack Files Series) Grosset & Dunlap, ISBN: 0448420414, Ages 7 - 9 yrs.
Jackie French Koller
Dragonling (Dragonling Series) Aladdin Library, ISBN: 074341019X, Ages 7 - 9 yrs.
Realism and SurvivalIn Hatchet, a boy is the lone survivor of a plane crash and is stranded in the wilderness with only a hatchet. This gripping tale is by Paulsen, who has written many wonderful stories including Mr. Tucket and Dogsong.
Mr. Tucket Yearling BooksISBN: 0440411335, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Dogsong Simon Pulse, ISBN: 0689827008, Ages 10 & up
Hatchet Simon Pulse, ISBN: 0689826990, Ages 9 -12 yrs.
The Forests of Silence Apple, ISBN: 0439253233, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Deltora Book of Monsters (Deltora Quest) Scholastic, ISBN: 0439390842, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Holes was a recent movie written by the talented Sachar; think “curse, desert correctional camp treasure and friends”. This is very different from the humorous tales that occur on the thirteenth floor of Wayside School, which was accidentally built sideways with a classroom on each floor.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School (A Series) HarperTrophy, ISBN: 0380731487, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Holes Yearling Books, ISBN: 0440414806, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
See you later, Gladiator (Time Warp Trio Series)Puffin, ISBN: 0142300691, Ages 9-12 yrs
Sam Samurai (Time Warp Trio Series)Viking Childrens Books,ISBN: 0670899151, Ages 8 & Up
A variety for all tastes. Try to pinpoint some of your child’s interests; then browse the non-fiction shelves. It can be awesome! A strong alternate way to present non-fiction might be to use a narrative form, or group by topics i.e., true tales, poetry, biographies, and special interests.
The Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex Putnam Pub Group Juv, ISBN: 039923795X, Ages 9 -12 yrs.
Triumph on Everest: A Photobiography of Sir Edmund Hillary (Biography) National Geographic, ISBN: 0792279328, Ages 9 -12 yrs.
One Wild Ride: The Life of Skateboard Superstar Tony Hawk (Biography) 21st Century Books, ISBN: 0761326669, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Puppies, Dogs and Blue Northers: Reflections on the Author’s Life with His Sled Dogs (Biography) Yearling Books, ISBN: 0440418755, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Tomi De Paola
The author, creator of Strega Nona, grandmother witch, looks back on his childhood.
Twenty-Six Fairmont Avenue Puffin, ISBN: 0698118642, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
Here We All Are Puffin, ISBN: 0698119096, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
What a Year (Biography) Puffin, ISBN: 014250158, Ages 9 - 12 yrs.
I Spy Gold Challenger: A Book of Picture Riddles Cartwheel Books, ISBN: 0590042963, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
Whales Harpercollins Juvenile Books, ISBN: 0064460959, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
Big Cats HarperTrophy, ISBN: 006446119X, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
Danger! Volcanoes SeaStar Books, ISBN: 1587171813, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
Muscles: Our Muscular Skeleton HarperTrophy, ISBN: 0688177204, Ages 7 & Up
Animals Nobody Loves SeaStar Books, ISBN: 1587171554, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
Eyewitness: Pirate DK Publishing, ISBN: 0789466082, Ages 9 -12 yrs.
Eyewitness: Spy DK Publishing, ISBN: 0789466163, Ages 9 -12 yrs.
Monday’s Troll Greenwillow, ISBN: 0688096441, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
A Pizza the Size of the Sun Greenwillow, ISBN: 0688132359, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
Laugh-eteria Puffin, ISBN: 0141309903, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
Beast Feast Voyager Books, ISBN: 0152017372, Ages 4 - 8 yrs.
Eyewitness Books stand out in the non-fiction collection. They are bountiful and beautiful, including wonderful photographs along with information. Browsing these gems is a treat. Examples: Sharks, Whales and Dolphins, Islam or Money. The Eyewitness Juniors, which are mostly in paperback, are perfect for lower elementary grades i.e, Amazing bikes, Amazing crocodiles and lizards.
For more great books for boys, look for Kathleen Odean’s Great Books for Boys: More than 600 books for Boys 2-14.
Reprinted with the permission of the Parents' Choice Foundation. © Copyright 2012 Parents' Choice Foundation. All rights reserved.