Books for Boys: Stories for the Wild Hearts

Explore, build, conquer – you don’t have to tell a boy to do those things for the simple reason that it is his purpose.  But it’s going to take risk, and danger, and there’s the catch.  Are we willing to live with the level of risk that God invites us to?”

John Eldredge, Wild at Heart, 2001:Thomas Nelson Publishers

Good books can help build the man.  The young boy needs all the help he can get to rise up to the heights of his unique calling.  Through stories that flesh out endurance, sacrifice, and fighting for the right, he can attain his destiny.  A well-rounded male protagonist demonstrates to the young reader that success must be hard-won and involves taking risks and will inspire him to believe he can make a difference.

Good stories well-told can breathe on the embers that lie dormant in all boys and men to activate that their strength and power is rise up and do big things for their families and the good of others.

These great “boy books” offer plots and settings that show the resolution of a boy’s inner conflicts: “Do you think I can do this?”  “Am I any good?”  “Am I heroic?” Our world needs men who use their strength for the protection of others —  men who overcome and walk out their bigger purpose.

The titles listed here represent a few stories that showcase a male character facing adventure, danger, and risk. My list is eclectic and loosely organized into recommended age categories.  Keep in mind that often a good book will be a wonderful reading experiences for many age groups.


The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop – William is off on a quest into a fantasy world

Honus & Me by Dan Gutman – one of 5 “Baseball Card Adventures” – a boy goes back in time to meet his sports hero.

The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds – a young boy must defend his family against Indian attack

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh – a boy must find out for himself if there are bears on the mountain

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman – a spoiled prince and a commoner team up for adventures

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes – a silversmith apprentice in Revolutionary Era Boston finds his courage

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George – a runaway survives in New York’s Catskill Mountains


The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead – wonderful re-telling of King Arthur and Merlin

Call Me Francis Tucket by Brian Paulsen – a 14 year old faces trials in 1800’s American West

Hatchet by Brian Paulsen – a teenager must survive alone in the Canadian wilderness

Little Britches by Ralph Moody – a heart-warming saga of pioneer life in Montana in the 1800s

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare – a young boy faces dangers in Palestine at the time of Christ

Late Teen:

To End All Wars by Ernest Gordon – a WWI Japanese prisoner of war overcomes torture and deprivation

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew – a Dutch missionary smuggles Bibles behind the Iron Curtain

Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester – a British naval midshipman endures hardships during the Napoleonic War

Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour – an escaped American soldier evades captures in Soviet Siberia

Also: Treasure Island, Kidnapped, or The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson

Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Historical Fiction, Inspiration, Read Aloud | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Books for Boys: Stories for the Wild Hearts

  1. Thanks for these! I often find it hard to find books that boys will love (since I grew up reading more ‘girly’ books. This list looks good!

    • The boys’ list is mostly real life/historical adventure, so that means another great list could be made of fantasy titles with great adventure and action that boys would love! Thanks for commenting.

  2. cat

    I needed this list! I was just at the library and felt overwhelmed. I tried to find something for my son, but just didn’t want to read EVERY intro, every first page of the first chapter to get a feel for if he’d like the book. Thanks!

    • You are so welcome! So many other titles out there to love, too… Fantasy epics like Eragon and Beyond the Summerland…and just READING is so great – even if a book isn’t a “classic”. Twenty pages in is a good place to bail out if a book didn’t grab your son’s attention.

  3. Some of these are great books for girls, too! 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    You breathed on the embers that lie dormant in all boys and men. Our strength and power is to rise up to do big things for our families and the good of others. Thanks for showing us stories that inspire and remind us that we do make a difference!

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