March 1, 2013

Books, Authors and Series for Middle Elementary Boys (or Girls)

Since today is "Read Across America Day", my son and I thought we'd share a few of his favorite books and series.  He just turned 9, is in 3rd grade, and he's a pretty strong reader.

Before this past year, my son was primarily interested in non-fiction books.  He'd read every night, just like his sisters, but his tastes leaned heavily towards books like The Guinness Book of World Records and Top Ten Lists of Everything Football.    While I loved that he was reading (and learning lots of interesting facts), I was eager for him to expand into some fictional books as well.  When he finally found a series he liked, he was hooked and has been enthusiastically reading a great mix of fiction and nonfiction ever since. 

(NOTE:  While the books on this list are ones that have appealed to my son, my 10-year old daughter has read and enjoyed many of them as well)

 Here are the books we recommend ...
(Amazon links are included with each photo and title so you can read additional info about each title) 

book series for boys, books for 9 year old boys, book ideas for boys

So, what was that first series that he found and he loved?  The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket!  

book series for boys

I think it was the back cover's description that peaked his curiosity.   When you tell a boy that something is going to be terrible and sad and disastrous, they can't help but to want to find out more.

My son LOVED the series.  I'd picked up the first book for him at Goodwill (where I often bought books that I hoped would appeal to him).  After he read that first one, he quickly wanted to buy or borrow the rest of the thirteen books in the series.  I loved how interested he was in the series and the great vocabulary he was picking up as he read.  There is also a movie version that my two oldest really enjoyed after they read the book.  (my youngest found it a little too scary).

The next book is not part of a series, but it had a similar "dark" theme that my son really loved.  

Holes by Louis Sachar won the Newbery Medal in 1999 and is a really neat story with lots of twists, turns, coincidences and connections between generations.  It takes place primarily in a work camp for boys, but it has lots of great messages about perseverance and friendships.   The book also has a really well-done movie version that our whole family enjoyed watching for movie night one weekend.  (The screenplay was written by the author so it sticks really close to the book's plot and the cast was great ~ Jon Voigt, Sigourney Weaver, Shia Labeouf)  I love when there are good movie versions of the books my kids have read ~ it gives lots of great opportunities to compare and contrast, and it can help more reluctant readers get through a book if they know they have the treat of a movie afterwards.

This next author is my son's absolute favorite.  

My son even chose Dan Gutman and some of his many books as the topic for a recent author study project he had to do at school.  Gutman has written nearly 100 books for kids and Kevin is trying his best to read them all!

His favorite collection by Gutman is the Baseball Card Adventures.  The books combine everything my son loves ~ sports, history, mystery and adventure.  Ordinary baseball cards are magically able to transport the main character back in time where he can interact with some really famous and interesting players such as Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente and others.

I love when an author writes several books with the same topic or theme.  Once a child reads one, there are several similar books which are also likely to be enjoyed.  Dan Gutman has done this with several of his books, not just the baseball card series.

My son enjoyed Back in Time with Thomas Edison and then was able to read another book with Benjamin Franklin.  He loved both the Kid who Ran for President and the Kid who Became President.  All three books in the Genius Files series were a hit as well as The Million Dollar Kick and the other million dollar books.  Slightly easier reads, but still fun, are the whole series of My Weird School books.

As I mentioned, Dan Gutman has written nearly 100 books so I'm not going to list them all, but every one that my son has read, he's loved.  His author page on Amazon lists all his books and he even has his own website with some fun games and background facts.

When my son did his author study project at school a few weeks ago, he "met" some other authors through his classmates' reports.  One of those authors was Andrew Clements. 

He had read Frindle several months ago and really enjoyed it.  After rediscovering Andrew Clements, my son has been reading and liking several of his other books too.  A few favorites...  Lunch Money, Lost and Found and The Report Card

One last book that my son really liked was I Funny, by James Patterson.

book ideas for boys, book ideas for 9 year olds

James Patterson's mystery novels with Alex Cross are some of my favorites as an adult, so it's cool to see my son really enjoying this author as well. (even though the subject matter is completely different)

I hope this post has given you and your boys (or girls) some good suggestions for some fun and interesting books.  There are so many children's books out there and each child has their own tastes and interests.  I hope some of the books and authors we've shared might help spark and encourage a love of reading in your child.

DISCLOSURE:  I am an Amazon affiliate and I will earn a small percentage if you choose to purchase any of these books from the links in this post.  However, we get the vast majority of our books out from the public library and I think that can be a great way to determine if your child likes an author or series first ( you can always buy the books later! )


  1. As the mom of 5 (yes 5!) boys I appreciate this list. Your son is between my oldest and second and they couldn't be more different. My oldest has devoured books for ages, but my second is trying to find what he likes. We will have to check some of these out! Thanks again!

    1. Kim, you'll have to let me know if you find some that your son likes. Once mine discovered how much he liked reading fiction, it was like the floodgates opened and now he can't get enough of it. There have been so many nights where we've argued because I tell him it's bedtime and he wants to finish the last few chapters!

  2. Thanks for all the suggestions! My daughter Allie has been voraciously reading several of these books and can't wait to get more at the library!

    1. I'm so glad, Lindsay! Which ones has she liked? I think Kevin's probably read at least another dozen Dan Gutman books since I posted this.

  3. I love your site. I teach 6th grade and love your suggestions! Currently, I am reading with my students "Dead end in Norvelt" and they are loving it! Here is a book that my students enjoy also- "Guys Write for Guys Read" by Jon Scieszka

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