It’s been a while since we did a post on children’s books. But then, this weekend, a child who shall remain nameless declared reading was boring in my hearing. Previously Words in Place has run posts on classic children’s books, children’s books with strong female protagonists, and more (see list below). This post features chapter books for boys. Some books have a back-to-school theme; others were chosen to coax reluctant readers, and are full of charmingly absurd humour, or page-turning mystery. If your seven-year-old is already knee-deep in Harry Potter, some of these books might not be advanced enough (Maple Ridge, etc.). At the same time, Alvin Ho and Horrid Henry are just as suitable for my wee one as the 1930s Enid Blyton mysteries with which he is currently obsessed.
Chapter Books Featuring Boys, Ages 7-9
Akimbo (Alexander McCall Smith): Akimbo’s father is a ranger on a game preserve; Akimbo’s adventures efforts to save animals from poachers and other threats.
Alvin Ho (Lenore Look): Alvin is entering grade two at the beginning of this exceptionally funny series. He declares himself allergic to school, girls, camping, science projects, and much more, though he is a self-described “fire-cracker” at home. He gets bonus points for his love of Thoreau (he lives in Concord, MA), while his father quotes Shakespeare.
Bobby the Brave (Lisa Yee): An unathletic child of a former football star, Bobby is just trying to figure it all out—school provides some particular complications. The series is also notable for its cast of mixed-race characters.
Carver Chronicles (Karen English): The first book opens with Gavin starting a new school; he’s a relatable skate-boarding, soccer-loving boy who has to navigate making new friends, the school bully, and more. English is a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winning author.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney): It’s such a phenomenon I don’t think I need to say more.
Dunderheads (Paul Fleischmen): Nicknamed the Dunderheads by an evil teacher, these eccentric exceptional children band together to thwart her plots. The story is enriched by David Roberts’ amazing illustrations. This was an absolute hit at my house.
Greetings from Somewhere (Harper Paris): Twins Ethan and Ella tour the world with their parents solving mysteries. Solid and entertaining, these have been reread several times at our house.
Justin Case (Rachel Vail): The protagonist is an introspective worrier. Reviewers laud the novels for their exceptional wit which also appeals to adults. The series opens with Justin upset that he and his best friend will not be in the same grade three class.
Horrid Henry (Francesca Simon): An award-winning series which is unbelievably popular in Britain. Henry is incapable of behaving, with entertaining results. There’s some hand-wringing online from moralists who want to see naughty Henry punished and an uplifting lesson instilled—but that’s not a concern for your average eight-year-old.
Knight in Training (Vivian French): I’m a sucker for British children’s literature, and it has dragons and humour. There are three books to date, all featuring madcap adventures.
Leroy Ninker (Kate DiCamillo): An offshoot of the delightful Mercy Watson series by a Newbury-Award winning author, this series features Leroy, a former bandit and aspiring cowboy. These books are delightful and funny, with colorful illustrations by Chris Van Dusen.
Life of Ty (Lauren Myracle): A series about a boy just trying to get by in life, with a new baby sister, school, and a bit of mystery (who did kidnap the penguin?).
Milo and Jazz Mysteries (Lewis B. Montgomery): Milo wants to be a detective; so does the new girl next door, Jazz. They team up to solve mysteries. Good illustrations.
Nate the Great (Marjorie Weinman): A mystery series, these books are short and accessible, with a likeable protagonist and charming illustrations.
Nicholas (Rene Goscinny): These have been best sellers in France for decades, and are now finding a North American audience. The books contain short stories about Nicholas’s exploits and are suitable for reading as a family or independently.
Tales from Maple Ridge (Grace Gilmore): Opening in 1892, this series exudes wholesomeness, which your reader may or may not find boring.
Zapato Power (Jaqueline Jules): In book one, Freddy Ramos receives a box with sneakers which give him super-hero powers. Full of adventure, the books are good for early readers. There are a few Spanish words throughout. Comic-style illustration.