40+ of the absolute BEST books for boys in their pre-tween, tween and teenage years.
Let me start by saying that my now-teenage boys are not avid bookworms. They’re decent readers, but my boys don’t just hunker down with a book whenever they’re bored. They’d just rather be doing something rather than reading – like throwing a baseball or watching hockey game. However, my boys always loved ME to read to THEM, and I did, every night, from the time they were babies until they were far too old for bedtime stories. I won’t tell you exactly how old my guys were when I stopped reading to them at night. They’d never forgive me.
Want to know a secret though?
As much as I adored reading to them when they were toddlers and little boys, for me, it got better and better as they got older! We’d dive into these great chapter books, and tackle trilogies and series’, and just get lost in them for an hour or more every night. It took us the better part of a year to get through through the Lemony Snickett series. When we turned the final page of the 13th book in that series, we were all filled with a sense of sadness and loss. Our wonderful year-long, nightly adventure had come to an end. And those characters that we’d come to love and know so well – well, our nightly visits with them were over.
I cherish the memories of us snuggled on the bed together, them listening, and me doing the different voices of all the characters. That was so much fun – making up and maintaining the proper character voices night after night. High falsettos, southern twangs, and gruff, rough voices that sometimes left my throat raw. And the accents, oh my… I think I drummed up every accent known to man during those years.
Some chapters would have us howling with laughter, like the time Count Olaf’s hilarious antics had us laughing so hard I could barely read. Tears were running down my face, and at one point, I think the boys shifted from laughing at Count Olaf to laughing at Mom laughing so hard. When we finally calmed down and the laughter had subsided, the boys said “Read that part again, Mom”, and so I did, and we laughed just as hard as I read through the Count’s escapade a second time.
And there were other times when we sobbed our way through chapters filled with heart-break and sorrow. Charlotte’s Web and Tuesday’s with Morrie come to mind. Books like those touched our hearts and taught us about the bravery and heart-ache and struggle that life can present.
It’s been several years since my boys and I last cozied up and read together at bedtime, but they do still get some of their own reading in. They keep me up to date on the books they read for school book assignments, and I encourage them to choose a few novels to read over the summer break. When they read one that they love, they’re keen to tell me about it, and they often suggest that I read it too. I usually do, and I have to say: when they say a book is really good, it’s REALLY good. I’ve never been disappointed by their recommendations.
As a result of all of the reading we’ve done together, and some that they’ve done on their own, my boys have an extensive list of all-time favourites novels which I’m sure they’ll read to their own children one day.
It makes me so happy to share our favourites with you today.
Our all time favourite 40+ Best Books for Boys ages 8-16
For your convenience, I’ve included US, UK and Canadian affiliate links for all of the books.
Books for pre-tween boys (ages 8 and up):
Every book in the series is a winner. My 14 year old has been a Big Nate fan for years, and he’s read them all. Written in comic book fashion, the Big Nate stories revolve around Nate, an energetic and rebellious 6th grader whose shenanigans are are always landing him and his friends in hot water.
Both of my sons are huge fans of the books in these series. My husband and I have read several of these a well, and we’ve been known to laugh ourselves into tears at some of the situations that the main character, middle-school student Greg Heffley, gets himself into.
A heart-warming and entertaining tale about the adventures of a musically talented cricket who finds himself living in a newsstand in a New York City subway station where he befriends some other small animals and the news vendor’s son.
As I mentioned earlier, every book in the Snicket series is a literary treasure. Night after night, my boys and I howled over the hilarious hijinks of the conniving Count Olaf. Time and time again, on the edge of our seats, we cheered on those brilliant Baudelaire siblings as they plotted their escape from the devious Count. For the better part of a year, we worked our way through all 13 books, and each one delighted and thrilled us as much as the one before. You MUST read this series. Parents, teens and kids of all ages will enjoy it immensely.
My boys adored this novel, and I, being a life-long fan of “the boy who never grew up” found it absolutely captivating. Dave Barrie and Ridley Pearson have created this “prequel” of sorts – an adventurous back-story to the classic tale of Peter Pan. Anyone familiar with the J.M. Barrie original will find it fascinating to learn of the thrilling adventures and trials that Pan experienced long before he entered the lives of Wendy, John and Michael Darling.
This was another one that we Peter Pan fans fell in love with. Peter Pan in Scarlet is the first authorized sequel to Peter Pan ever to be written. If you loved the original story, you’ll be swept away with the adventures that ensue after Peter leaves the Darling family a Neverland much more dark and dangerous than the one he left.
Best Books for Tween Boys (10 and up):
Gordon Korman is one of my boys’ favourite authors. He writes with the middle-school and teenage boy in mind, and my boys love his stuff. My younger son read Zoobreak when he was 11, and re-read it again when he was 12, if that’s an indication of just how good it was.
I read this remarkable account of solitude and survivorship to my older son when he was 12. It is based on the true-life story of a young Indian girl who gets left behind when her people are rescued from the remote island they inhabit. For 18 years, years, Karana, the sole inhabitant of the island keeps herself alive by, working the land, providing herself with food and shelter and fending off the dangers in the wild. Karana’s determination and strength will move and inspire you and stay with you forever.
Another tale of survivorship and bravery, this time about two young teenage boys who set out on an adventure only to find them selves horribly lost and alone in the northern wilderness. Together, they face the countless dangers and challenges that that nature throws at them – wild animals, foraging for food in the frozen tundra, frigid temperatures and finding their way back to civilization. Written by the late Farley Mowat, a world-renowned author from our own small town, this thrilling adventure ranks high on our list of all-time favourite reads.
My younger son read this novel when he was 10 and in Grade 5, and it’s one of his top 5 favourite books of all time. Tuck Everlasting is the enchanting tale of a family who is granted eternal life after drinking from a magical spring. A thought-provoking fantasy that both parents and children will love.
For both of my boys, Hatchet is their very favourite Gary Paulsen novel. Hatchet is yet another thrilling tale of survival. 13 year old Brian Robeson is forced to survive all alone in the Canadian wilderness when the small plane that he was flying in crashes. Armed with nothing more than the hatchet his mother gave him, he draws on his inner-strength, determination and instinct to survive 54 days of solitude while awaiting rescue.
Holes will definitely interest even the most reluctant readers. You can’t help but be pulled in to the intriguing story line. Boys at a detention camp digging 5 ft. holes in the sand as a form of punishment and character-building. But is that really why they’ve been assigned to dig these holes? Hmmm… maybe, maybe not! Read it to your boys! They’ll love the story-line, and I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.
I read this one to my oldest when he was about 11. Mikey, a 13 year old, is excited to be on a 3 day fishing trip, bonding with his step-dad Bill and a couple of Bill’s friends when a moral dilemma arises. My son found the action and excitement of the sport intriguing, and of course, the moral dilemma had us pondering is honesty, trust and integrity.
If you have a hockey player in your family, he will love the Screech Owl series. For years, my boys enjoyed following the adventures and escapades of teammates and school chums Travis, Nish, Larss and the gang. I’ll admit, I developed quite a soft spot for those loveable characters as well.
I confess, I am probably one of the few people on the planet that haven’t read this book, but my younger son read it in Grade 5, for a book study, and 4 years later, still claims that it was one of the best novels he ever read.
My older son, the more reluctant reader of the two, read City of Ember when he was in Grade 7. He raved about it. And when that boy raves about a book, I know it’s a book worth reading.
Best Books for Teenage Boys: (13-up)
This is another novel that I have not yet read, but my 14 year old devoured it while on vacation this summer, and then handed over to his best friend who read it with the same voracity.
My younger son plowed through this one when he was 13. I haven’t read it myself, but I’ve heard that readers young and old find it hard to put down.
In the reviews that I’ve read, “Gripping, thrilling, tear-jerking, powerful and heart-pounding” are a few of the words used to describe this novel. My 14 year old couldn’t put this down while cottaging last summer. He claims it’s one of the best books he’s ever read.
My 14 year old gave me The Giver for my birthday last year, after reading it and loving it himself. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and could see why he was so enthralled by it. It’s an odd mix of old fashioned, and sci-fi, but my-oh-my, that did make for a great story!
When my 14 year old (reluctant reader) blew through this trilogy during a 2 week vacation, I knew it had to be good. I read all 3 as well, and absolutely loved them. My husband followed suit and a couple of years later, my younger son read them as well. Filled with action and suspense this trilogy thrilled our whole family.
This book, the first in a series, swallowed my 14 year old whole. He couldn’t put it down. Again, being that he is quite a reluctant reader, that speaks volumes about the book. He went on to read the sequels: The Scorch Trials and the Death Cure, and he enjoyed those thoroughly as well.
And finally, I’m providing you with Kindle links for these last 3 books, as they are not available in hard copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. They ARE available in hardcopy from Amazon.ca however, so I’m also providing those links for my Canadian readers.
All three were written by one of my boys’ favourite Canadian authors, Eric Walters:
And there you have it, folks; oodles and oodles of fabulous all-time favourite books for boys that even the most reluctant readers will love.
Looking for MORE terrific novels for the boys in your life?
Check out 25+MORE great books for boys. It’s a new list I’ve written after asking my followers to share their favourites with me.
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