Some of my Mom Friends are dreading the summer reading requirements from school because their boys are not reading for pleasure yet. So I put together this list that combines books with a related and fun activity as an incentive for boys to read. Yes, I believe in bribery. It helps get kids over the hump to change their behavior on a temporary basis but that might be enough for them to realize that reading is fun.
It works like this:
- Find a friend, if that helps, to commit to reading the book. A classmate is perfect because they have the same assignment.
- When both kids have read the book, schedule the activity.
- Do the activity together, and even talk about how the book relates to the activity.
- Before the play date ends, pick another book. Yes, I mean pick the book/activity while the fun is still going on.
- Do it again.
Some of these books were culled from past boy book club meetings, so these books and activities can easily be turned into a book club, mini or otherwise.
p.s. Another incentive for boys: Borders Summer Reading Program. Get one book free from their list after you submit their form with 10 books that they’ve read.
Chapter Books with Activities for Boys Book Club
10. The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth / hatch eggs (ladybug, chicken, or other creature) or take Museum of Science Virtual Tour: Triceratops paired with The Toughest Of All Dinosaurs: The Triceratops video
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
9. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell / Dig up worms. What you do next is up to you! (Maybe go fishing with worms?)
Can Billy win the bet by eating a worm a day for fifteen days? This book has very short chapters with illustrations and the story is really appealing to boys. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
8. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park/ Paint Your Own Pottery or Make Clay Pot with Sculpy
Set in 12th century Korea during the Koryo era, an orphan who ends up working for a celebrated celadon potter is able to realize his own potential. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
7. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George /Go on a Neighborhood Nature Hike to Identify Edible Plants
This series is about Sam Gribley living unhappily in New York City who runs away to some forgotten family land in the Catskill Mountains. He learns to live off the land with the help of a kindly librarian, a falcon baby, a flint and steel, a penknife, and a ball of cord. He is joined by his sister in book two, and book three chronicles Frightful’s migration journal south. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
6. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan/ Fencing Lesson. I would sign up for a free demo or lesson. This is not a do-it-yourself type of sport.
This is “Harry Potter meets Greek Mythology” and it’s a fantastic read! It’s such a page-turner that I stayed up to 2 a.m. to finish it! Percy Jackson is an ADD, dyslexic 6th grade hero who has trouble staying in school because, as it turns out, he’s no ordinary human but a half-blood related to one of the big three in Greek Mythology. He must find and return Zeus’ lost lightning bolt to prevent WWIII. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
5. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies / Have a Lemonade Stand to Raise Money for Charity. What is another way to raise money?
This is my Mom Friend’s son’s favorite book from a local author in Newton, MA. I have it in my bookshelf but I haven’t read it yet. The 4th Grade boys I know LOVE this book. [middle grade, ages 7 and up]
4. Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil by Wiley Miller / Make Your Own Helium Balloon at Home STEM Science Project
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
3. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell / Catch Toads, Lizards, Frogs or Insects with a Net
A hilarious book in the vein of Diary of a Wimpy Kid about a young wimpy Viking boy named Hiccup who, like all Viking boys, must capture and train a dragon as a rite of passage. Hiccup emerges as a hero when his forbidden “dragon whispering” ability and wits save his village from two gigantic dragons. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
2. Jackie & Me by Dan Gutman /Attend Baseball Game and/or go to Baseball Card Shop
Even if your child doesn’t play baseball, it’s always fun to go to a baseball game to check out a baseball card shop. And, learning about Jackie Robinson should be on everyone’s list anyway. Have a discussion comparing Jackie Robinson to Barrack Obama. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
If it doesn’t get too crazy, you can let the boys do a kite competition by seeing who flies the highest or even let them compete a la the book trying to cut the other person’s kite loose while staying in a circle.
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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