20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Boy

20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Boy

I wanted to do a boy version of the 20 Gentle Books for a Young Girl at the request of a reader. I tried not to duplicate books but there are many on the girls’ list of 20 Gentle Books that would also be great for boys.

In making this list, I tend towards more old fashioned books but gentle books for boys can also be modern. What are your favorite gentle chapter books for a young boy? Please share! Thank you!


20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Boy

10. Frindle by Andrew Clements

A delightful early chapter book that every boy in 3rd grade seems to love at my elementary school. Nicholas Allen invents the word “frindle” to replace the word “pen.” For him, it not really an act of rebellion, it’s more an outlet to explore the power of ideas. Frindle catches on much to the consternation of his Language Arts teacher, but is she really upset? [ages 7-10]

9. The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil by Wiley Miller

A completely delightful story of a boy who finds adventure when a man in a hot air balloon passes by his window. The book has large print and illustrations so it’s perfect for reluctant boy readers. If he enjoys this book, there is a sequel, Attack of the Volcano Monkeys. [ages 7-10]

8. The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

Historical fiction about a teacher who comes to rural Alaska and changes the lives of her students.  [ages 7-10]

7. The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney

When Eben McAllister is challenged by his pa to discover wonders in his small farming community, he finds the extraordinary in a doll, a bookcase, a saw, a table, a ship in a bottle, a woven cloth, and more. [ages 7-12]

6. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

is the Newbery Award winning book, and it’s the sequel to A Long Way From Chicago. While this book is set in a small country bumpkin town during the Great Depression, it’s a hilarious story about fifteen-year-old Mary Alice who is sent to live with her Grandma for a year during the Great Depression while her parents get situated. Grandma Dowdel is a force to be reckoned with; her resourcefulness is matched by her heart of gold and Mary Alice’s year is filled with enough drama to fill a newspaper. [ages 8-12]

5. A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

is from Mary Alice’s older brother’s perspective during their eight summers at Grandma Dowel’s farm and the antics they got into. It also gives a gentle history on how the Great Depression impacted their community. [ages 8-12] Fair Weather by Richard Peck. Thirteen-year-old Rosie Beckett and her siblings’ lives are about to change forever when a distant aunt sends them tickets to visit her in Chicago to visit the 1893 World Fair. Not only are their adventures hilarious, butyou feel like you are stepping back in time and visiting the World Fair which would be ten times more amazing than our modern day equivalent of visiting Disney World & Epcot Center. [ages 8-12]

4. The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park

Set in 15th century Korea, Korea’s Golden Age, two brothers — one skilled in kite making and the other skilled in kite flying — combine their skills to compete in a kite flying contest on behalf of the king. [ages 7-12]

3. The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth

Twelve-year-old Nate Twitchell hatches a strange egg laid by one of the hens on his family farm that turns out to be a baby Triceratops. If you can imagine The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg made into a novel in the vein of Homer Price by Robert McCloskey then that would be The Enormous Egg. [ages 8-12]

2. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

Can Billy win the bet by eating a worm a day for fifteen days? This book has very short chapters with plenty of illustrations. The story is really appealing to boys. [ages 8-12]

1. Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I think Wonder should be required reading for all elementary school kids because it inspires us all to be a better person. Author R. J. Palacio visited my town and I have the backstory on how this chapter book came about here.

And a few more …

Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or Anything series by Steve Cotler

This is a gentle chapter version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Steve Cotler nails the everyday adventures of a boy next door. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger

My son and I have been reading this series and it’s another one that makes the reader into a more tolerant and accepting person. We both especially like that it includes a special needs character in a realistic and sympathetic way. [easy chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

I loved this book as a child and it’s the ultimate portrayal of life in a “Norman Rockwell”esque old fashioned small town. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Also The Pain and the Great One early chapter series which is slightly easier than Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. [Tales: ages 8-11; Pain and Great One: ages 6-10] My middle daughter loves The Pain and the Great One series about a big sister and her little brother and guess what, she has an annoying little brother too so she can really relate to this series. [ages 8-11]

Luz Sees the Light series by Claudia Dávila

This graphic novel is perfect for younger readers in grades 1-4. It has a great environmental message with the faintest hint of an urban, inner city, Latino community. For a child interested in recycling or cleaning up his or her community, this book would be perfect and might even inspire a community clean up. [ages 6-10]

The Adventures of Tin Tin series by Herge

This great book pick is from ReadAloudDad who has a great blog on kidlit. He polled a young friend who said, “You simply cannot go wrong with the series about Tintin the fearless reporter and his cute little dog Snowy. It is simply unmissable. Great fun for all ages. I’m sure that it will be popular with kids in the 21st century as well!” The Secret of the UnicornReadAloudDad tells me, is being made into a movie by Steven Spielberg.

Fish Finelli: Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles by E. S. Farber, illustrated by Jason Beene

Fish and his two buddies must find Captain Kidd’s treasure assuming they can locate the treasure map first in order to show up Whooping Hollow’s town bully, Bryce Billings. This easy chapter book has a larger font with text broken up with plenty of  full page illustrations and informative sidebars. This book would appeal to boys who like facts mixed with a not-to0-scary mystery adventure. [easy chapter book, ages 7 and up]

Reader Suggestions for More Gentle Chapter Books for Boys

Maria’s great suggestion is Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. Love that novel in verse too! (I love Hate That Cat too!)

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Thank you to my friend Nat for her great suggestion, Tin Tin, which her two boys really enjoyed.

The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 1 (Tintin in America / Cigars of the Pharaoh / The Blue Lotus) by Hergé


Catherine of Story Snug loves Dixie O’Day in the Fast Lane. Her review is here.

Dixie O’Day in the Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy

Dixie O'Day in the Fast Lane

Dixie O’Day In the Fast Lane is a perfect book for children who are moving from picture books to chapter books. The seven short chapters are designed to be read one a day but it is such an action packed story that we can’t resist reading it in one sitting. It’s a real page turner and the perfect size to fit in a Christmas stocking.

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Boy

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. These are great choices, Mia!
    Erica recently posted…20 Multicultural Christmas Books for ChildrenMy Profile

  2. Nat

    Great list…My boys especially love Tintin, which they discovered at their grandparents’ houses many years ago (yes, both sets of grandparents were big fans, and we still are, it’s just nice to lose oneself in one of those extraordinary adventures taking place in the early 20th century!). The comic series is truly meant for everyone ages 7 to 77 just as Hergé (the author) had imagined; I think over the years, it’s been translated to over 70+ languages, quite amazing!

  3. Great list, Mia. I really liked Wonder.

    Would Love That Dog work for your list? It’s so moving, simple and elegant.

  4. As far as booklists are concerned you and Erika cannot be beat 🙂 We only read one on this list vs. many on the list for girls, so I’ll be looking for some of these titles!
    Natalie recently posted…A Gift Guide Roundup from Afterschool CommunityMy Profile

  5. Thank you for this post! Pinning for Johnny in a year or two!
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  6. You are so awesome. I’ve been trying forever to figure out a good way to keep track of the books I want to get for Fen. (post idea for you) and I think I’ll keep a list on Amazon.
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…DIY Temporary TattoosMy Profile

    • Hi Jeanette,
      I’m on it! How to keep track of books for your kids. Hmmm… I’m not sure myself. Pinterst board? Amazon wish list? I’ll mull this over and try a few things. That would be helpful for me too. My method is just to buy ahead before I forget and then try to keep track of the book! It’s not a great method!
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  7. Amanda C.

    Nice list! My son is 7, but he may be ready for some of these already.
    Amanda C. recently posted…Six Enviable Habits of French PeopleMy Profile

    • Hi Amanda,
      It is amazing how advanced boys can be at reading at a young age. Most of my son’s friends were reading Percy Jackson or Harry Potter at age 6 or 7. He wasn’t but it motivated him to try. I hope your son likes the books you chose for him on this list!
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  8. We love Dixie O’Day in the Fast Lane which is written for children moving from picture books to chapter books. It’s about a car race so a great read for all

  9. I do but I couldn’t post the URL :o)
    Catherine recently posted…Win a signed copy of Jane Hissey’s Old Bear Stories!My Profile

  10. What a great theme for a book list – I love it!! There are definitely some favorites of mine on here. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this with the Kid Lit Blog Hop!
    Katie recently posted…Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Holiday Extravaganza!My Profile

  11. Always enjoy your posts and insight on books for boys. Thanks so much for sharing!

  12. Renee @ MDBR

    Thanks for this list Mia – pinning!!! I LOVED Wonder – one of the best books I read this year. It really moved me. I also remember How to Eat Fried Worms when I was a kid! lol Thanks so much for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop and I hope you and your family have a lovely holiday season.
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    • Thanks so much Renee! I am going to take a blogging break for the winter vacation! I’m a little burned out and behind. How are you? You’ve been blogging at a fast and furious rate. Love all your book blasts and reviews! I’m so impressed with your ability to write so many great posts so quickly!!!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…23 Great Picture Books for 5th GradeMy Profile

      • Renee @ MDBR

        Mia, I’m in the same boat – burned out and way, way, way behind. I am taking a 2 week break as well. No new posts, but catching up behind the scenes. I say that now, but I just want to be with my family and not worry about the blog at all, know what I mean? I hope you get to spend some quality time with your family – Merry Christmas. Looking forward to re-connecting in the new year. Best, Renee xx
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        • Hi Renee,
          Yay! Glad you are taking time off too! I think we will both feel recharged! It’s less the blog posts themselves than the social media that it just time consuming and never ending. Glad you are getting a break too and I am looking forward to next year and reading your posts! Happy holidays!!
          Pragmatic Mom recently posted…23 Great Picture Books for 5th GradeMy Profile

  13. Your Homer Price mention reminded me of Keith Robertson’s “Henry Reed” series. Loved those books when I was a kid.

  14. A nice combination of old classics (I remember The Enormous Egg from my own childhood) and newer ones (my kids read Frindl in school). Maybe you might want to describe the stories as “Gentle stories with boy protagonists” (and the earlier post as “Gentle stories with girl protagonists”) rather than as *for* boys, or *for* girls? It’s true that lots of kids like to read about a character who’s the same sex as they are, but lots of kids are willing to read a story with a protagonist of the other sex, too. I loved The Enormous Egg as a child, and both my daughters loved Frindl and my boys liked the Edward Eager books, like Half Magic, mentioned in your post of gentle books for girls. … On the other hand, “protagonist” is a kind of technical term and “boy main character” and “girl main character” is rather wordy, so maybe your current titles are best, pragmatically speaking–and you are the pragmatic mom, after all 🙂
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  15. Amy

    We loved The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr. It’s long, but oh so wonderful. Also, we loved The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, 2013 Newbery Medal winner. Toys Go OUt and the sequels, Toy Dance Party, and Toys Come Home, all by Emily Jenkins are really really good, and we enjoyed the Humphrey series by Betty G Birney. I think you had Goonie Bird Greene on your list and those are really fun – and good for teaching Language.

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