Our Top 20 Favorite Books to Get Pre-Teen Boys Reading
I have an eleven-year-old boy and a nine-year-old boy, and their tastes in books could not be more different. Actually, there are two series of books that they both LOVE (#18 and #1 on this list), but for the most part, their preferences differ.
I’m including the reading level, but only because it helps in figuring out if the book will be too hard for your son/grandson to read. I’m a firm believer in letting kids read the books that they want, not necessarily the ones that are on their AR level. But reading books that are too far above their level can actually discourage kids from reading.
FYI: This is not a list of teacher/parents’ favorite books. These are books that the KIDS like.
When my first son hit the pre-teen age, I had no idea what books to get him, so I hope this list will help those parents who are in need of new reading material!
Our Top 20 Favorite Books that Pre-Teen Boys Like to Read
Reading level: 4.7 (varies)
My oldest son just started reading these, and he has friends that are into them too. It’s not my personal favorite because it’s centered around Greek mythology, which is not something I’m into, but apparently it racks up the points with AR quizzes. There are also movies to go along with it, and you do not want to watch these movies with younger siblings.
#19. Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims (series)
Reading level: 5.4
Rush Limbaugh? Okay, so I was a little skeptical, but the kids loved the whole talking horse thing. It combines elements of fantasy with reality in a fun way to explore history. (It kind of reminded me of Mr. Ed. Remember him? A horse is a horse, of course, of course….)
#18. Jedi Academy series
Reading level: 3.3
This series is adorable. I actually have been reading it too, and I have laughed out loud. There is lots of Yoda speak, which makes me smile every time. Both boys liked these.
My oldest has been reading these for a couple of years. They are all non-fiction and packed with funny cartoon images and interesting facts. I even read these to my kindergartener. And there are so many to choose from. Dig around online. There are around 20 titles of these.
Reading level: ~4.3 (Believe it or not..)
I have fought these for years. I don’t like them. The very cover gets on my nerves. Plus, there are plenty of purposefully misspelled words in these, where the book character makes his own comics. I have four boys. The last thing I need is a fresh source for potty humor. Ugh.
But the thing is that they actually DID get my oldest two boys to read more. So annoying, and yet so true. In fact, reading something they knew I didn’t forbid but didn’t approve of fully made them like them more. I’m sure of it. Once I read one and bought into letting them read these, I kept up the act of not liking them. It worked well for me.
#15. I Survived series
Reading level: ~4.0 (varies)
When my mother-in-law bought one of these, I didn’t really believe that my boys would read them, but my oldest read every single one he could get his hands on. Learning about history while their mother does no work at all? Now that’s a win.
#14. Basketball Superstars 2015……or basically any book full of pictures and sports stats
Reading level: 5
My oldest son memorizes every fact these books will give him, and then he asks us to quiz him on them. Oh, if only we could get him to feel this way for science tests!
#13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory……and basically anything by Roald Dahl (That man is a genius.)
Reading level: 5.9
I often read books to my boys before bed. It’s one of my favorite things to do. This was a one in a million sort of book because they had NOT seen the movie. They were so intrigued to see whether or not Charlie would win that golden ticket, they would actually sneak into their closet after I left the room to read for themselves what was happening next……Or was that the BFG? It was definitely one of Dahl’s. You can’t go wrong with Roald Dahl.
Do not let them see the movie until after they’ve read the book, unless it’s too late for this. We still haven’t seen the new Johnny Depp version. We loved the good ol’ ’80s version that’s like $5 at Walmart.
….because you can’t deprive your children of the Far Side. Having a great sense of humor is highly underrated.
#11. The Bad Guys series
Reading level ~3
My middle son, who is 9, loved this book so much. I think he read it 20 times. He also did a book report on it. Actually there are only about 12 kids in his 3rd grade class and TWO of them chose this book for their book report. It was that good. It’s a hilarious book because the bad guys here want to be GOOD guys. Therefore, they develop a plan to break all the dogs out of the pound to show how good they are, which of course just gets them into more trouble.
#10. Henry and Mudge series
Reading level: 2 (varies)
This series is my favorite for eight-year-olds or for reluctant readers. It’s a classic theme: a boy and his dog. These are short but sweet stories, and I’m pretty sure my oldest son read every single one.
Reading level: 3.3
You can never go wrong with Doreen Cronin. My favorite thing about this book was that it inspired him to draw, though I’m not sure why. I didn’t actually read this one, but my son says it’s funny, and since it’s a Cronin book, I’m sure that’s true.
#8. Charlie Brown and Friends: A Peanuts Collection
My boys like pretty much any book in comic stip format, so it has that going for it. When I was around eight-years-old, I read every single Charlie Brown comic collection in print, and there were a lot!
The thing about Charlie Brown is that it’s real. There isn’t always a happy ending, and happy isn’t funny. Mistakes and hard knocks and learning not to trust Lucy–that stuff is good humor!
#7. Hank the Cowdog The Watermelon Patch Mystery audio book
This is actually an audio CD. Enjoy this one on a car trip. Your entire family will laugh uproariously, especially if you have a two-year-old singing, “Watermewon, Watermewon, bwack eye peas.”
Hank the Cowdog is also a series of children’s books, and we enjoyed them as read alouds, but if you are just starting out with Hank. I promise you’d all love this audio one.
#6. Holy Bible for Minecrafters
Reading level: 4
When I first heard the title, I was thinking they meant it was about Minecraft. But then I looked through it, and I was sold. It is chock full of actual Bible stories, illustrated like they were created in the Minecraft world. My boys read it quietly to themselves all the time, and I’m tickled pink.
#5. Captain Awesome series
Reading level: 3.8 or 4
This series is about a boy who imagines himself a superhero. There were about three months in which I could not get one of my sons to read anything except for books in this series. Thankfully, there are like 13 Captain Awesome books. These are best for your highly imaginative son.
#4. Farmer Boy and the rest of the Little House series
Reading level: 4.3
This series is my favorite children’s book series of all time. We started with Little House in the Big Woods and read our way all the way through. They resisted it in the first book, but I persevered, and all the scenes with wild bears, panthers, wolves, and Indians kept the boys excited. The boys were completely won over by the second book.
I cannot emphasize enough how many WONDERFUL life lessons and morals there are in these books.
Reading level: 3.1- 4.5 (varies)
Another favorite! Don’t be fooled into thinking 8-12 year olds are too old for these little treasures. They are written on a third or fourth grade level, so truly 3rd and 4th graders are the perfect market for these books. My favorites are the ones from the ’80s, but maybe that’s because that’s when I originally read them.
Full of moral lessons, full of family values, plain old good sense! Buy as many as you can and leave them sitting on the coffee table. They are so short; hopefully your kids won’t be able to resist them.
#2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series
Reading level: 5.2
It’s the same principle as Charlie Brown really. I would say Greg Heffley is the modern day Charlie Brown. Stuff just happens to him, though some if it is actually his fault; whereas, poor ol’ Chuck was usually just the victim of circumstances. These books are relatable to kids, and being so full of pictures they are perfect for reluctant readers.
#1. Big Nate series
Reading level: 4 (varies)
I put this one at #1 because more than any other book this one has gotten my boys to read for hours and hours and hours: both of them. If there’s a new Big Nate book around here, I never have to worry about enforcing reading time. I have to pry them away from these. I’ve read them myself, so I can vouch that they are cute, enriching books.
Side perks: Nate makes up codes to pass notes to his friends, so there are also code-cracking activities in these books to get your kids’ brain cells jumpin’.
There is also a book where Big Nate studies Ben Franklin, so after that one both boys could not read enough about Ben Franklin. Gotta love that.
When kids read, they learn without even realizing they are learning. And Meg Ryan was so right in You’ve Got Mail when she said,
“When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” –Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail
Happy Reading! What books do your children love most? Share with us below!
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