Books for the Boy That Does Not Read – Part 2

Part 1 of this article can be found here

Here’s some recommendations for common likes of tween and teen boys. There’s ones suggested for 6th-8th (age 11-15) and some for 9th (age 15+) and above. Ones with a * next to the title will probably be able to pass the “great literature test” and not be shot down by overly picky parents. These are either considered great literature or have won an award. I’ve tried to leave off one’s that are GLARINGLY OBVIOUS like Harry Potter, Hardy Boys, Stephen King, or anything I’ve seen appear repeatedly on a ‘required reading’ list that nobody reads unless it’s assigned. They’ve already either read those, or will be forced to read them in school. I have picked some out of print items, but they’re generally one’s I’ve had pass through my hands repeatedly. If you handle used books, you may have some on hand right now.

The split at 6th/9th is based either on language level OR sexual/violent content. Some are put into the ‘higher’ grade level because they are more enjoyable if you have a broader literary background first. There’s also a few comic series recommended. They’re clearly marked. Comics may be a good way to lure reluctant readers in. Most items recommended for 6th graders also work for higher grades (or adults!) Items marked with {brackets} are anthologies or collections, for the harried teens.


6th grade: The dog always dies in teen lit. It gets depressing. Try Burnford’s “The Incredible Journey”*, Saunder’s “Beautiful Joe”*, or Sewell’s “Black Beauty”*. Happy endings! Also try Kipling’s “Jungle Books*,”{Anything by James Herriott}, Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, Robin Jarvis’ Deptford Mice trilogy, Richard Adam’s “Watership Down”, and Sterling North’s “Rascal”.

9th grade: Farley Mowat’s “Never Cry Wolf”, Gavin Maxwell’s “Ring of Bright Water”*, Richard Adam’s “Plague Dogs” (warning, somewhat sad!), most Stephen Jay Gould, Vaughan’s “Pride of Baghdad” (comic)


6th grade: Many Japanese manga series. Look for items labeled as Shonen manga (boys comics). American comic series such as marvel “Runaways”, “Blue Beetle: Shellshocked”, or the “Showcase Presents: X” which collect comics from the 1940-60s. “How to Draw X” may work well.

9th grade: Irving Stone’s “Agony and the Ecstacy”* & “Dear Theo”*, Dan Brown’s “da Vinci Code”, more advanced “how to…” books


6th grade: Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” (and sequels). Most video game series will have tie in books. {anthology: “Ants, Indians, and Little Dinosaurs”*}, Robert Blane’s Rick Brant Electronic Adventures series (like the Hardy Boys, but with science)

9th grade: as above, plus Dan Brown’s “Digital Fortress”, anything by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, most books by Michael Crichton, {anything by Stephen Jay Gould*}


6th grade: Louis L’Amour (there’s more than just westerns!), Collier’s “My Brother Sam is Dead”, Nordhoff’s “Mutiny on the Bounty”*, Agatha Christie’s “Death Comes as the End”, Spiegelman’s “Maus”* (comic- Pulitzer prize winner about the Holocaust), Gonick’s “The Cartoon History of the United States” & “The Cartoon History of the Universe” (comic), {Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series}

9th grade: Shilt’s “And the Band Played On” (modern history of AIDS), Neville’s “The Eight”, Yarbro’s St. Germaine series (historical vampire), Evan’s “Longarm” series, Sacco’s “Palestine”* & “Safe Area Gorazade” (comic-award winner ), Vaughan’s “Pride of Baghdad”(comic- current Iraq war) , Moore’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman” (comic- 19th century), O’Neill’s “Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection volume 1” (comic- civil rights era)


6th grade: Gary Paulson- Hatchet* and Brian’s Winter, Graham’s “Dove”, Thor Heyerdahl’s “Kon-Tiki”& his other books. Many books in the ‘animals’ recommendations will also work.

9th grade: John Krakuer’s “Into Thin Air” & “Into the Wild”*, Read’s “Alive”, Louis L’Amour’s “Last of the Breed”, anything by James Fenimore Cooper*, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe*


6th grade- anything by Matt Christopher or Thomas Dygard, name a sport, those two have probably written a book about it. Voight’s “The Runner” (running), Brancato’s “Winning” (American football)

9th grade- Bissinger- “Friday Night Lights” (American football), Goodwin’s “Wait Til Next Year” (baseball), Hornby “Fever Pitch” (soccer/football), Kinsella’s {“The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt”} and “Shoeless Joe” (baseball), most sports biographies

Science fiction/fantasy/horror

6th grade: anything by RL Stine, Clive Barker’s “Thief of Always”, Alan Dean Foster’s “Spellsinger” series, anything by C.S. Lewis, anything by Ursula LeGuin but Wizard of Earth Sea is recommended, anything by John Saul, Smith’s “Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil” (comic), Willingham’s “Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall” (comic)

9th grade: Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Pern” series, C.J. Cherryh’s “Cuckoo’s Egg” & Chanur series, T.H. White’s “Once and Future King”, {any of the annual Hugo or Nebula Award anthologies}*, Robert McCammon’s “Mystery Walk”

Mystery & Thriller

6th grade: anything by Agatha Christie, anything Earle Stanley Gardner, Arthur’s “Three Investigators Series”, various TV show tie ins such as for Law & Order and CSI, {Alfred Hitchcock Presents series}

9th grade and up: Puzo’s “The Godfather”, Clavell “Shogun”, anything by Alistair Maclean, anything by Wilbur Smith, the Mack Bolan series, The Destroyer series

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6 thoughts on “Books for the Boy That Does Not Read – Part 2”

  1. I would add to that…

    Science fiction/fantasy

    6th grade:
    Any Darren Shan series, my personal favorite “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen”,

    9th grade:
    Anything by David Eddings, lord of the rings is a must and any of the forgotten realms and dragon lance series.

    I agree with all the others, nice list.

  2. I like the idea of starting with reading comics rather than full books. I think that if you manage to do that (and it shouldn’t be to hard), you’re already half way there. Once the kid likes comics, you don’t have to immediately progress to full books. There are comics out there for every reading age (for adults too), so if you just move away from the classic Disney comics and start with something with a bit more text and a more complex story, I’m sure you can slowly build his interest until he’s ready for a real book.

  3. I would add to the Sci-fi section, anything by Garth Nix. He has a brilliant series called The Seventh Tower, 7 ~200 page books. I went through that series in a matter of 2 weeks. Although I am 25, any teen (tween) fan of the Harry Potter books would be just as engrossed.

  4. Thanks for this list.

    I remember when I was in high school I skipped reading the full versions of most compulsory readings, and instead I read my classmates notes to get the necessary knowledge.

    I will bookmark this list for my son, maybe he will have similar problems like I had 🙂

  5. When it comes to art manga’s are really the best way to get kids to read. Funny thing people don’t realize is that so are video games. I’ve played video games since I was in 2nd grade. I didn’t play the average shooting or killing game but mostly role-playing games and because of that I had a college reading level throughout high school. Reading is easy when its fun.

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