Having two boys, I’ve been on the lookout for boy books constantly. About a year ago, I searched through a few options for early chapter books, which I posted about here. Now that BalletBoy is reading chapter books himself, I thought I’d update with more options. I’ve found even more than these, though some I haven’t read enough of to give any sort of review.
There’s an ongoing discussion, I feel, about boys and books and what makes a book more appealing to boys. For some blogs focused specifically on boy books, you can check out Guys Lit Wire, The Excelsior File or The Book Zone (for Boys). You can also see Jon Scieszka’s website Guys Read, which isn’t updated too much, but has some good stuff. But for now, here’s some boy early chapter books for your perusal…
Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight
This series (which is only on its third title) features a sort of Walter Mitty-esque kid who constantly imagines himself in different, generally more exciting, circumstances. Wight’s cartoony illustrations are cute. The stories are simple but funny. I’m not completely enamored of the writing, which jumped around a little as the author moved between Frankie’s imaginary world and the real world. However, the concept is so good and BalletBoy, who has turned out to be a very picky reader, gives it a thumbs up.
Melvin Beederman, Superhero series by Greg Trine
BalletBoy passed on this series, but I sat and read the first one and found it very amusing so I’m giving it my recommendation. Melvin is a slightly inept kid superhero who fights off some very silly villains. It’s definitely got a lot of the sort of irreverent boy humor that appeals to fans of really silly books like Captain Underpants.
Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon
Henry is truly a villain. He can’t do anything nice – not for his friends, his teachers, his parents and certainly not his detested little brother. The writing is solid and the stories are very funny, but at first glance, Henry is almost too horrid. His villainy is really only funny after you’ve read a number of these and understand how completely unrealistic both he and his “perfect” brother are. I enjoyed these a lot and Mushroom is actually keen to read them once he’s able to.
Herbie Jones series by Suzy Kline
I’m not sure exactly what I want to say about these. The writing is just above Junie B. level (and I really dislike Junie B.), so this isn’t a strong recommendation. However, BalletBoy discovered some of Herbie Jones’s second grade series and really liked them. Herbie is a mostly average, if lazy, kid. The series focuses on school and friends. I think BalletBoy must like the sheer normalcy of it. Suzy Kline is also the author of the Horrible Harry books (not to be confused with the Horrid Henry books above!). I can’t even give those a mild recommendation. Seeing that they were easier than most of the Herbie books, I gave one a try, but I was sorely disappointed.
The Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
Not to end on a mediocre note, these books are slightly on the harder end of the books I listed here, so BalletBoy hasn’t made it to them quite yet, but they’re so much fun. They’re not as wholesomely educational as the jaunts through history taken in a certain treehouse, but they’re more fun and the writing is peppered with jokes. The three boys have to figure their way through a number of time travel scrapes.