After last week’s piece about my daughter’s book club, I received numerous “What about the boys??” questions. Good questions with simple answers…

My 5-year-old is too young for a book club. When he thinks of reading it is all about snuggling and hearing a great story. This summer he has been devouring the Magic Treehouse series. Which means Hubs and I are “devouring” these stories right along with him. For the third time. (Will Jack and Annie make it back to the treehouse in time?? Let’s find out! Really great stories, but yeah…third time, my friends.)

My 10-year-old son, a definite bookworm, is simply not interested in a book club. In fact, sitting down with a dozen buddies and talking about books just might fall into the Worst Idea Ever category. Even though he loves books and buddies. Just not his thing.

However…the great mother-child conversations that have grown out of my daughter’s book club are pretty special, so of course I want to experience something like that with my boys. The connection is still the goal, but my approach is very different. Like so many things boy-related, my approach is deceptively casual and super stealthy.

We started by reading to him for years, even past the time he could handle a hefty book. Our favorites were always the books like Harry Potter and Peter and the Starcatchers, which combine adventure, suspense and (this is key!) humor.

I now try to keep up with what he’s reading so I have at least a working knowledge of what he’s enjoying. We go to the library regularly. We spend a small fortune at our favorite bookstore. We he finishes a book and stares at his bookshelf like an open fridge proclaiming he has NOTHING TO READ, I do some research and find a list of books to try. (As I mentioned in the other post: great resources include librarians, bookstores, online reading groups. Google is your BFF here.)

When he does find that cool/awesome/epic book, I ask questions. But only (and this is key too) only when we are doing something else like riding bikes or walking the dog, or shooting hoops in the driveway. If he’s doing something else, it doesn’t feel like homework…it feels like a casual conversation. And before we know it, he is relaying the cryptic plot of his latest Sci-Fi novel. Sometimes I have no idea what he’s talking about. But he’s talking! And he’s so excited! And if I get lucky, I eventually catch on to a few basic details so I can ask relevant questions.

Sometimes I know the book well, and the conversation turns to wonderfully familiar ground. We fall back on inside jokes. He quizzes me on what kind of demigod I would be and why. He asks me for the thousandth time to name my favorite Harry Potter character. We agree that no matter your favorite character, we all pretty much want to be part of the Weasley clan.

And without even knowing it, without trying too too hard…we’ve suddenly had a really great, genuine mother-son moment. Very stealthy. Mrs. Weasley would be proud.

*     *     *

Just as I did with my daughter’s book club post, I’ve included some book ideas for boys. Some of the titles overlap, which is no surprise. Of course there’s no such thing as Boy Books and Girl Books…but the following titles have been particularly popular with my son during his early elementary years.

1st/2nd Grade
Dragonslayer’s Academy by Kate McMullan
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
Magic Tree House (series) by Mary Pope Osborne
Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
Geronimo Stilton (series) by Geronimo Stilton
Origami Yoda (series) by Tom Angleberger
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
Amulet (series) by Kazu Kibuishi
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Guardians of Ga’hoole (series) by Kathryn Lasky
Anything by Road Dahl

3rd/4th Grade
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Mysterious Benedict Society (series) by Trenton Lee Stewart
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (honestly, just go ahead and buy the boxed set because they will read them over and over again for years.)
The Wonderful O by James Thurber
Regarding the Fountain by Kate Klise
Peter and the Starcatchers (series) by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Platypus Police Squad by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Love from your friend, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Wildwood by Colin Meloy
A Series of Unfortunate Events (series) by Lemony Snicket
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Anything by Rick Riordan

Must-Have Reference Books for Boys
Defending Your Castle by William Gurstelle
Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden
The Boys’ Book: How to Be the Best at Everything by Dominique Enright
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by Elizabeth Foy Larsen, Joshua Glenn, Heather Kasunick and Mister Reusch


  1. I love your book club posts! I am definitely keeping this book list for when my little guy gets older. Thanks for sharing and for being an inspiration.

  2. Yes, talking while doing – it’s the only way with boys! Wonderful post Liz. We’re big into the Magic Treehouse series too, but it’s getting old. Can’t wait to start Harry Potter.

    • It’s funny, I’m dying to read Harry Potter for the third time. Although my youngest is partially spoiled because he has seen the first couple movies.

  3. Thank you thank you for this!!! I have a 1st grader who can read but hates to do so. (He likes when I read to him.) Love the lists and love your book posts! Our local library does a book club for different age groups. There’s a book of the month, and a Sat book club for any kids who want. It’s apparently well attended so we may be checking it out! I suspect there will be more girls, though of course there are no girl and boy activities! :) Thanks E!

    • I love that y’all are joining that book club! Keep me posted on it. I’m also reminded of something a beloved 1st-grade teacher told us about boys and reading…she said they often get stuck at that age because their reading level hasn’t caught up with their interests. The books just aren’t very exciting or adventurous when they are first learning. But once it all evens out, they take off. This is exactly what we saw with our now 10-year-old bookworm.

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