I've recently noticed a trend in the emails and feedback I've received from this blog's viewers: a large number of parents and teachers are reading it for a particular reason. To quote: "I want to find books for my boy(s) to read!" Sadly, while there are hundreds of great books out there for boys, many adults don't know where to look once they're off the NYT best seller list (and even if they're on the list, who's to say they're good?).
So.... I'm initiating a new feature of The Book Report: a monthly feature entitled "Books for Boys".
In the future I will be highlighting older (that is, not published this year, or not currently bestsellers) books, but today I'm going to briefly run through some books your boys may have already read and let you know what I think of them.
1) HARRY POTTER
Controversy regarding witchcraft aside, this is obviously the most popular book ever written for children of either gender. The plot is one of the most well-thought-out I've ever encountered in either children's or adult's literature, and the characters are well-developed and unforgettable. Long sentences make it difficult to read aloud, but older readers will read it quickly and enthusiastically. However, due to the aforementioned controversy, parents should do their research and read it first. Being involved in your children's reading means being involved in their life...that's just good parenting.
Why boys like it: Action. Drama. Plot. Characters. The enticement of another world, another reality from what they know. Humor. With an emphasis on humor.
There's some controversy surrounding these books, as well, due to their content of ancient gods--so again, do your research. However, they are easy to read, filled with action, and very exciting. I would argue that character development suffers as a result of constant action, but... apparently millions of boys don't mind that.
Why boys like it: Action. (Some) humor. Fantasy. Quick pacing and readability.
Boy genius meets the fairy realm. One character can be a little crude, and a later book in the series turns demons into a possibly objectionable fantasy element, but the plot is excellent, surprisingly touching, and overflowing with clever humor.
Why boys like it: Humor. Action. Kick-butt fairies that are anything but girly.
These books seem to appeal to the younger fans of Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS. They're decently fast-paced, very action-packed, and filled with other-worldliness and excitement. Personally, I think the writing is amateurish and the plot and characters almost define cliche. Boys like it...but I would recommend they stick to Tolkien, Lewis, maybe MacDonald, or venture into the works of Robert Louis Stevenson if they're smart enough to tackle books with that kind of length and vocabulary.
Why boys like it: Fast-paced action. Fantasy elements reminiscent of (or stolen from) The Lord of the Rings. Plot reminiscent of (or stolen from) Star Wars.
5) THE LORD OF THE RINGS
It's great what a blockbuster movie will do to rejuvenate old classics. #5 is great for advanced readers who want to tackle it, and #6 is excellent for readers of any level, simple language yet profound story.