If you’re a parent of a boy you might look at the title of this blog post and think, huh, I’d rather try and get my son to eat Brussels sprouts.
But everyone should read fiction. Reading fiction is an experience that builds empathy, enables us to experience a range of emotions, fires the imagination, entertains and helps develop language skills.
The English teacher at my sons’ previous school (which was a boys school) strongly encouraged the reading of fiction. He thought that boys were often keen to read non-fiction and would devour manuals about “stuff” but they should also read fiction because of the powerful effect it has on the imagination.
I think the reason that boys are drawn to non-fiction rather than fiction is because most boys are not emotionally mature enough to handle fiction. A good non-fiction book written for children can be highly inspiring and fire their imaginations, say a book about space travel. But a fictional book about, say, friendship? Most boys would run a mile.
I have two boys who are both keen readers, but it has to be the right book. When it comes to fiction, the best ones for boys are those that have lots of action.
Boys don’t want flowery descriptions of people or places. They don’t want slow, thoughtful prose. They don’t want too much stuff about relationships. They want action. And they want it on page one to get them hooked, and then regularly throughout the book. The plot has to keep moving.
And they like series, because once they’ve found a good series they’ll read the whole lot. Children can be so conservative – best stick with what you know seems to be their motto!
These are the top three series that my boys have enjoyed:
The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
This is a fantastic series of books about fourteen-year-old Alex Rider who finds himself forcibly recruited into MI6 when his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances. He undergoes gruelling SAS training and is then sent off on secret missions, armed with his own special set of gadgets. The first book in the series is Stormbreaker which opens with a brilliant first line: “When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it’s never good news.”
By the way, I’ve read all the Alex Rider books myself for sheer enjoyment. They’re brilliantly well written and Anthony Horowitz is one of my favourite authors.
Get Stormbreaker here.
The Enemy series by Charlie Higson
The best way to describe The Enemy series is to say, think of The Waking Dead for kids. The grown ups have fallen sick and either died or turned into zombies. The children have to find a way to survive on their own. As well as being a gripping horror story, this is also an interesting look at how to live and organise society. The children form into different groups, some wanting to fight, some wanting to restore the monarchy, some looking to find a new type of politics, some getting all religious. Small Sam just wants to find his sister. Complex and fast-paced, there’s never a dull moment in this series.
Get The Enemy here.
The CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore
This a hard hitting series about children, often from deprived backgrounds, who are recruited to work on undercover operations for the CHERUB organisation. The back of the book says, Not suitable for younger readers, and I think that’s good advice. That said, for boys eleven and up, this is gripping stuff. The school these children attend is a kind of boot camp for training teenage spies. There a lot of good stuff here about respecting authority and looking after your mates.
Get The Recruit here.
Please note, all book links in this post are to Amazon affiliates.