40 BOOK recommendations for BOYS

My boys are old enough to read to themselves. (And they do.)

But I keep reading to them too, because they keep asking me. Now and then I check in with, ‘Aren’t you guys too old for me to be reading to you?’ And there’s vehement protestation and ardent begging and threats of mutiny if I stop.

I know reading aloud isn’t everyone’s jam but it seems to soothe and connect us and it’s a brilliant excuse for hot drinks in bed and I’m happy to be my boys’ warm-bodied audiobook for as long as they want.





There’s heaps of research confirming the benefits of growing up with books. I’m not the home-schooler-ish type, but I do love getting to choose books that expand my kids’ worldview, and mine – books that allow us to question and feel and think and travel landscapes created by the words and experiences – actual and imagined – of other humans.

So in no particular order, here are the books my boys and I have loved living through together, over the past couple years:

  1. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. Every Christian in the western world should read this book.
  2. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. Cried my eyes out. Animals are simply magnificent.
  3. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (young reader’s edition – minus the sex and the F-bombs). Can’t wait to see the movie!
  4. Indescribable by Louie Giglio. Devotional readings for kids on God and science.
  5. Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L. Taylor (from John Bunyan’s classic). Poignant and gripping and even though it’s archaic, you’ll see yourself on every page.
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. ‘Nuff said.
  7. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (young reader’s edition). I’ve mentioned this one before. Something about this triumph-of-the-underdog-Olympic-athletes story will stay with you forever.
  8. Soul Music by Terry Pratchett. Brilliant, as only Pratchett can be.
  9. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (young reader’s edition). Louis Zamperini’s unbelievable story of survival and salvation. Left us seeing the world differently.
  10. Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson. The moving, enlightening true story of a blind man and his guide dog and how they made it out of the Towers on 9/11.
  11. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (young reader’s edition). All goose bumps and God’s glory. Corrie’s account of her family’s resistance work hiding Jews during World War 2 and how she survived Ravensbrück concentration camp.
  12. The Accidental series by Tom McLaughlin (including The Accidental Prime Minister, The Accidental President, The Accidental Billionaire and The Accidental Secret Agent). Hysterically funny commentary on contemporary culture and politics, at appropriate kid level (i.e. with farting).
  13. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. Classic.
  14. The Giants and Joneses by Julia Donaldson. I’ll read anything Donaldson writes, because reading The Snail and the Whale to my babies kinda-sorta changed my life.
  15. All things Enid Blyton (The Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair trilogies, the Famous Five series, the Adventure series, Shadow the Sheepdog et al.) There’s something wondrously old-school and timeless about these books. Plus, they provide a great opportunity to teach my 21st-century sons that, these days, boys also know how to make sandwiches, and girls also have good ideas…
  16. All things Dick King-Smith, like The Invisible Dog (very funny) and Lady Lollipop.
  17. I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh. Fascinating and moving autobiography of a wealthy, landed Muslim woman who risks everything for Jesus.
  18. The Last Wild by Piers Torday. A weird dystopian novel about a boy who has to save the world. It somehow kept us reading because we absolutely had to know how it ended.
  19. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. This is the series that will define Cameron’s childhood, the way Nancy Drew defined mine.
  20. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. An English orphan is shipped to the Amazon to stay with a family who don’t want her. She triumphs.

If you’re looking for more recommendations, here are some books the boys have read to themselves:

  1. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
  2. The Eddie Red series by Marcia Wells
  3. The Epic Zero series by R.L. Ullman
  4. Books by Michael Morpurgo: including War Horse, Shadow and Kensuke’s Kingdom
  5. More books by Roald Dahl: Fantastic Mr Fox, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, The Twits
  6. All the Things that Could Go Wrong by Stewart Foster
  7. Books by David Walliams: Gangsta Granny, The Midnight Gang, etc.
  8. The Jack Stalwart series by Elizabeth Singer Hunt
  9. The Boy Who Could Do What He Liked by David Baddiel
  10. The 13 (and several more) Storey Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
  11. The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhay by Patricia and Frederick McKissack
  12. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons
  13. Kid Normal by Greg James and Chris Smith
  14. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  15. The Math and Science Inspector series by Daniel Kenney and Emily Boever
  16. The Boy who Biked the World (trilogy) by Alastair Humphreys
  17. The Anne of Green Gables collection by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  18. Paper Boy by Vince Vawter
  19. The ‘I Survived’ series by Lauren Tarshis
  20. A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich

. . .

Happy weekend! I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Feel free to share this post with your peeps.

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    • Hi Robynne, I started reading to them from the tiny baby phase.. I’d read that language development starts super early. Even though you think they don’t understand much, it somehow all goes in.. Also, because Cameron was blind as a baby we really ramped up his auditory intake. X

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My boys are enjoying Little Men (Louisa M. Alcott), books by Beverly Cleary (Ribsy, Henry & Beezus etc), The Railway Children (E Nesbit). Will definitely be checking out some of the books on this list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Dalene – I love your blog and your books…and your boys! I ordered Dragons and Dirt for our Bible Study group two years ago – we worked through it together and it was amazing! As we started it, my husband and I had dinner with a wonderful couple in our church and I shared how the book was impacting me – it was a remarkable evening as they are Josh and Megan Rous, brother of Lisa Jo Baker. Small world hey…
    I also have two boys – about to turn 11 and just gone 8. They read like maniacs – Chris (11) has finished 103 books alreay this year and your list will help sooo much! Thank you! My youngest Ruan was born without an immune system, it brings its own challenges, but we serve a God of healing and miracles who is so faithful through our trials. I have often related to your stories and struggles around Camerons blindness…Your prayer devotion book and blog has really helped me – so I just wanted to say thank you!
    May God bless you and your beautiful family!
    Kind regards, Estea Potgieter 071 245 0055

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Darlene! Love getting your emails every weekend!! You don’t perhaps have book recommendations for Afrikaans families?


    • Hey Jessica, my son just read one of the Narnia books in Afrikaans, so I’m sure there might be translations of some of the other books I’ve mentioned..? Thanks for being in touch! X


  4. Thanx so much! You breathe so much hope through your writing, thank you so much, I actually did your devotions on YouVersion and LOVED it!! Blessings to your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this list, thank you! Our 3 boys aged 11, 9 and 6, have really loved the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome. It’s quite slow at times and we’ve had to look up some sailing terms and explain some cultural terms from the 1930s, but they are fun and full of adventure and the outdoors, as well as respect for adults and each other, while being really good stories. I’ve loved reading them too and highly recommend them. It’s also been good stretching books in terms of their English vocab.


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