Boys’ Week: Books for Little Boys

A reader left this comment a few weeks ago:

Your poem today brought to the front of my mind a question that had been simmering unanswered in the back of my mind for quite some time. I have always read to my children and up until last year those children have been girls. Now I have a son to read to and while many books we have would be good for any child some are simply too dolls and tea parties for a boy to enjoy. Most of the children’s books we own were mine and my sister’s as children. Others have been chosen by my daughters or given to them. Having read and loved all these girl books makes me wonder what will I read to him. Do you have any suggestions of books for little boys that should not be missed?

I am still of the opinion that girls are more likely to enjoy “boy books” than boys are to enjoy “girl-y books.” (Many would argue with me.) So your girls may have enjoyed these picture books, too, but in my opinion, no boy should miss these ten books, with a bonus in the last entry on the list:

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Anne, promise that they can dig the cellar for the new Popperville town hall in just one day. Can they really do it?

Obadiah the Bold by Brinton Turkle. A young Quaker boy on Nantucket Island decides to become a pirate when he grows up, but he’s dissuaded after he’s forced to walk the plank (pretend) by his older siblings.

Drummer Hoff by Ed Emberly. Drummer Hoff fired it off. It’s not for the anti-gun (or cannon) crowd, but for little boys, it’s perfect.

Bored –Nothing To Do! by Peter Spier.Two boys build an airplane out of junk found around the house. Then, they have to un-build it and put everything back.

Billy and Blaze by C.W. Anderson. A boy. A horse. A contest. What else do you need to make a classic, satisfying story?

The Bicycle Man by Allen Say. Some American servicemen visit a Japanese country school, and one of the soldiers can do some pretty amazing tricks on a bicycle.

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel. How would you like to be a first son and have the great long name of Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo? How would you like it if your great long name endangered your life?

Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber. Ira is invited to his first sleep over at his friend Reggie’s house. Determined to have fun, fun, fun, and be very brave, neither boy will admit that he sleeps with a teddy bear — at first.

The Hole in the Dike by Norma Green. This book, with illustrations by Eric Carle, tells the traditional story of the little Dutch boy who held back the sea with his finger in the dike to save Holland from being flooded.

Any book by Gail Gibbons about building and running things: Trucks, Fill It Up!, Up Goes the Skyscraper, New Road!, Fire! Fire! and many other nonfiction titles about how things work.

Readers and friends, what books would you recommend to read aloud to little boys?

11 thoughts on “Boys’ Week: Books for Little Boys

  1. I have had to read *Trucks* by Patricia Hubbell about five times a day since we brought it home from the library. Very catchy rhymes and very odd illustrations. Admittedly this is my 2yo daughter recommending it, as my son is still at the ripping-out-the-pages stage of book interaction. But I’m sure a little boy would like it, too.

  2. My boys liked (and still like)
    When Sheep Cannot Sleep
    the “David” books by David Shannon
    the “Tom and Pippo” books by Helen Oxenbury
    Curious George
    The Jolly Postman
    The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
    The Very Hungry Caterpillar
    The Very Quiet Cricket

    I asked my 4-yr-old son for input and he said, “Bug books.” Right now he can’t get enough of insects and pulls books from our science bookcase for me or his older siblings to read aloud to him. All he requires is that the book has plenty of illustrations of the insects.

  3. My boy and girl had similar tastes in books as wee ones. Billy and Blaze was my childhood fave, so that series was read aloud many a time. the Mog books by Judith Curr and the Alfie and ANnie Rose books by Shirley Hughes were a huge hit.

    For longer read alouds, Winnie the Pooh was a huge deal between 2 and 5 years for my son, and it is a very fun read aloud. Stuart Little, Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy were also fun. The episodic nature of the chapters are good for young attention spans, too.

  4. Well, you know we’re music people over here…

    My boys love

    The Jazz Fly
    Max Found Two Sticks
    Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs

    to name a few.

  5. My boys loved anything by Robert Quackenbush and Syd Hoff. They also had a lot of fun with “The Fire Cat” by Esther Averill and “Mr. and Mrs. Button’s Wonderful Watchdogs” by Janice and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin.

  6. I am enjoying your boys week so much! If you would not be offended in any way I would love to borrow the idea of a boys week for my blog later in the summer. I can assure you mine won’t be as wonderful as yours but you have inspired me!! Thanks so much!!!

  7. “Freight Train” is written by Donald Crews — he has written others that boys love – but I can’t remmeber any right off.

    My son loves “the Fire Cat” as well as Curoius George, David books, Bereinstine bears books, and Many of the Dr. Suess books.

  8. Thanks for the good suggestions, Sherry. I’ve written down several and plan to hunt for them at the library. Lately my son (who’s 6 and can read but prefers to be read to) is LOVING many of Patricia Polacco’s books like John Philip Duck, Meteor (a HUGE fave right now), Thunder Cake, and Some Birthday. For picture books, they have longer texts and more advanced vocabulary (samovar, meteoric, etc.).

  9. We just love Obadiah the Bold. My library book sale had a signed copy of this gem for $0.25. What were they thinking? Love your list, would add the Little Tim books by Edward Ardizzone.

  10. Pingback: Giving Books from All Around the Blogosphere : Semicolon

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