Turning Boys Into Readers


Young boys are falling further behind in education, and this is due in part to a failure to appeal to the reading and academic interests of boys. When given the option, boys on average tend to gravitate toward reading nonfiction, humor, adventure, or comic books, but these preferences are often discouraged or not accommodated.  

Below are some tips to help engage and encourage boys to develop and expand a love for reading, as well as a list of books that might interest or provide a positive message to young boys.


Tips & Tricks for Getting Boys to Read



Make a competition or challenge out of reading.

Role Model

Dads can read to/with their sons or read the same book and talk about the story.


Let them read about their interests. Don't discourage or criticize their choice of book or genre.


Give them short segments of reading and fast paced stories.


Key Genres:

  • Utility/Learning Topic
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Action/Adventure
  • Short Stories
  • Fantasy/Science Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Non-Fiction/Historical

"If we’re to counter this tendency and encourage reading among boys who may collectively resist it, boys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers."

— Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope? by Robert Lipsyte


Don't Disparage:

  • Comics & Graphic Novels
  • Satires or Comedies
  • Magazines
  • Atlas & World Record Books
  • Instructional/Skill Building/How To Books
  • Joke Books & Potty Humor
  • Slang Dictionaries
  • Honest/Challenging Social Topics For Boys To Relate To
  • Battles/Crime/Fighting
  • Online Reading

101 Top Books for Boys

Via Boy's Life: Book Zone

• The 39 Clues
• Across Five Aprils
• The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• The Adventure of Tintin
• Aesop’s Fables
• Artemis Fowl
• Babe the Gallant Pig
• Billy Budd
• Black Like Me
• The Book Thief
• Brian’s Winter
• Bridge to Terabithia
• Bud, Not Buddy
• The Butter Battle Book
• The Call of the Wild
• The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
• Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
• Charlotte’s Web
• The Chosen
• A Christmas Carol
• The Chronicles of Narnia (series)
• Crossing the Wire
• David Copperfield
• Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series)
• Defeat of the Ghost Riders
• Discworld (series)
• Doctor Dolittle (series)
• Dune
• Encyclopedia Brown (series)
• Everybody’s Revolution
• Falling Up
• Far North
• Football Genius
• The Friendship
• The Giving Tree
• The Graveyard Book
• Great Expectations
• The Great Quarterback Switch
• Grimm’s Fairy Tales
• The Hardy Boys (series)
• Harry Potter (series)
• Hatchet
• The Hobbit
• Holes
• Honus & Me
• Horton Hears a Who!
• The Hunger Games
• James and the Giant Peach
• Joey Pigza (series)
• Johnny Tremain
• A Light in the Attic
• Lord of the Flies
• The Lord of the Rings (series)
• Magic Treehouse (series)
• Maniac Magee
• Maximum Ride (series)
• The Maze Runner
• Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM
• My Father’s Dragon (series)
• My Side of the Mountain
• Of Mice and Men
• The Old Man and the Sea
• Old Yeller
• On My Honor
• The Outsiders
• Percy Jackson & the Olympians (series)
• The Tale of Peter Rabbit
• The Phantom Tollbooth
• The Red Badge of Courage
• The River
• Robinson Crusoe
• The Sea Wolf
• A Separate Peace
• A Series of Unfortunate Events (series)
• The Shadow Children (series)
• Shane
• Shiloh
• Siddhartha
• Sounder
• The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairy Stupid Tales
• The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
• Stuart Little
• Sunrise Over Fallujah
• The Tale of Despereaux
• Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
• The Time Machine
• To Build a Fire
• To Kill a Mockingbird
• Travel Team
• Treasure Island
• Tuck Everlasting
• Tuesdays with Morrie
• The War of the Worlds
• Watership Down
• Wayside School (series)
• Where the Sidewalk Ends
• Where the Red Fern Grows
• Where the Wild Things Are
• White Fang
• The Wind in the Willows
• A Wrinkle in Time

Additional Resources

For additional reading lists, advice, and ways to help engage boys in reading, see the following resources:

  • Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope? by Robert Lipsyte - A male authors view on why boys aren’t reading, plus some great authors for boys!
  • What Do Boys Like to Read? Ask Them. by Drego Little - How to encourage boys to read by offering non-traditional forms of reading and taking their reading choices seriously, plus some book recommendations!
  • PBS Parents - Lists of books for boys separated by age range and genre.
  • Boy's Life: Book Zone - Resources and lists of top books every boy should read with links and reviews.
  • Guys Read - Books, authors, and reading lists that are catered to boys.

Further Reading

Are you curious about the gender gap in education? See the following links for more information:

  • The War Against Boys (article) by Christina Hoff-Sommers - In this article for The Atlantic, Christina Hoff-Sommers details several of the major points covered in her book by the same name.
  • How to Make School Better for Boys by Christina Hoff-Sommers - A well-researched article detailing the ways in which boys are falling behind in education.
  • Gender Gap in Education Cuts Both Ways by Eduardo Porter - Despite evidence that girls educationally outperform boys in nearly every country in the world, little attention is given to this growing divide.