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Great Books for Boys: Reality Edition

Book recommendations for elementary school boys (4th-6th grade) were a recent book club topic. My kid headed off to middle school and seventh grade this year, and has become quite a reader. This post shares some of his more recent favorites. In this post, I’m skipping the younger years and the many chapter books that he read and concentrating on what he read in fourth grade and beyond.

Many kids’ books today are fantasy based, and while my kid reads and enjoys those, there are some kids who prefer getting lost in real-world stories. My absolute favorites that boys will love are a quartet of books by Carl Hiaasen. For those of you who have read Hiaasen’s adult novels, such as Nature Girl and Bad Monkey, they are set in Florida and are hilarious crime novels featuring seriously flawed characters either tormented by, or in love with, the area’s natural beauty. The kids’ books are much the same, and the main characters tend to be rebellious, but with a heroic streak a mile long. There is a very strong environmental message in each of these books. In fourth and fifth grade, my kid read Hiaasen’s first four children’s books, which are available in a boxed set. They are Hoot (about owls), Flush (water pollution), Scat (illegal oil drilling), and Chomp (Florida wildlife and the Everglades). My son liked Hoot so much that he convinced his fifth-grade teacher to use that as one of the required reading books for her class. Hoot is a Newberry Honor winner and there is a 2006 movie version of the story. Hiaasen has a new kids’ book out this year, Squirm. While I read everything my kid reads, neither of us have read Squirm yet, If it’s anything like the other books, it will be greatly entertaining and educational. For younger kids, especially boys, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney are funny and easy to read. When my kid was looking for something new to read, one of his teachers asked him what he was interested in, and he replied “sports.” She recommended he read a book by John Wooden, UCLA’s legendary basketball coach. He read My Personal Best and enjoyed it. Later that year (this was sixth grade), Wayne Gretsky’s book 99: Stories of the Game was published, and as a hockey player, my son loved this book. There were a few books that he was assigned in class that he enjoyed, including Unbroken (the Young Adult Adaptation), by Laura Hillenbrand, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and Holes by Louis Sachar. All of these books are reality-based and good reads for boys in fourth through sixth grades. Unbroken does contain some adult content even in the young adult adaptation. In a future post, I’ll review some of my kid’s favorite fantasy and science fiction books – I’m asking him to rank them now. To make sure you see that post, sign up at the bottom of this page.

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