Boys Read? Are You Serious?

“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?”

See! A boy is reading in this candid photo.

See! A boy is reading in this candid photo.

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.

John Eldredge claims in Wild at Heart that “Life is not a problem to be solved; it is an adventure to be lived. That’s the nature of it and has been since the beginning when God set the dangerous stage for this high-stakes drama and called the whole wild enterprise good.  He rigged the world in such a way that it only works when we embrace risk as the theme of our lives, which is to say when we live by faith.  A man just won’t be happy until he’s got adventure in his work, in his love, and in his spiritual life.” (p. 238)

Fictional stories well-told can breathe on the embers that lie dormant in all boys and men, fanning the flames of their strength and power, and enabling them to 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 Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis – each book offers a heroic and YOUNG protagonist, e.g. Peter, Edmund, Shasta, Eustace, Caspian

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:

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

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

Categories: Biography, Children's Books, Inspiration, young adult fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Boys Read? Are You Serious?

  1. Thanks for a great list of books. I am passing this on to my nephew, a voracious reader.

    • a “voracious reader” – what a joy to have such a nephew! If he is a teenager get him a copy of Honey for a Teen’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. (Honey for a Child’s Heart if 11 or younger) – such a helpful annotated book lists

  2. 🙂 😀 Very great list and post of excellent topic! My brother is this super-sportive guy and it’s still hard to get him to read sometimes. Haha, would have been easier if I knew of this list few years ago XD

    • It’s never too late! He could try Louis L’Amour’s Last of the Breed about a downed American pilot trying to evade capture and survive in Siberia during the Cold War. Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment as well!

  3. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  4. Thank you! Great list. And my middle son LOVED Wild at Heart. Really impacted him–and he was not one to choose to read to spend his time so it was super cool that he dug into that one.

  5. realchange4u

    I have been through Men’s Fraternity With John Eldredge. He is Spirit-filled and leading men and families towards Christ. I enjoyed this post.

  6. Reblogged this on A Heroine's Journey and commented:
    I love this list of great books for boys (and girls, too)! I’d also add the stories from the Golden Age of Science Fiction (such as ‘Arena’ by Fredric Brown–NOT the Star Trek version) and Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark is Rising’ (NOT the movie version). There are some stories that are best left in books.

    • Thank you for reblogging the post! Much appreciated! Also, the title Arena by Frederic Brown is new to me – always a welcome treat to hear of my book friends’ favorites. “There are some stories that are best left in books” – I wonder if you have written on this topic – very intriguing comment.

  7. lisabetz88

    My Side of the Mountain was one of my favorites. And my boys enjoyed Hatchet. I may have to check out some of the ones I don’t recognize.

  8. You’ve got some great ones on there that we have in our family library and that our kids enjoyed. And there’s always Peter and Edmund from the Narnia Chronicles, although they are probably for younger readers. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was the first book our son ever read by himself at age 6. He sat on the couch and devoured it!

  9. Great list. I had four sons so I was always on the lookout for books that encouraged them to be brave, to be kind, and to “do the hard thing”.

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