I need your help here. Please suggest any boy characters in children’s literature or young adult books that you’d like your daughter to date. Heck, you might want to date them yourself, either as your younger self or even now. That’s the nice thing about these boys — they are frozen in time but we can age them up as we please.
This list can also be seen as a testament to authors who create characters so real, deep, and nuanced that we fall in love with them, if not for ourselves, then for our children. And I can safely say that no one else is consumed with creating this kind of list!
Please comment with your suggestions and let’s grow this list!
p.s. Here’s another great list on same topic from The Bookworm of her top 10! Stealing some!
Best Boys in Books to Fall in Love With
1. Charlie from the Charlie and Lola series by Lauren Child
Is Charlie not the perfect older brother or what? He’ll make a fine husband for one of my daughters when he’s all grown up, plus he has that cute accent. And it won’t bother me a bit if he’s actually a cartoon character. It worked out in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? [picture book, ages 2 and up]
2. Eddie from Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning by Danette Haworth
He’s cute and smoldering and he really, really understands Violet in a strong, silent kind of way. If this book was made into a movie, I imagine the Percy Jackson actor, Logan Lerman, playing him. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
3. Jeffrey Tifton from The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
It’s not just that he has that “poor-little-rich-boy” thing going, but he’s also a talented musician, a great soccer player, and a good friend. In the sequel, he’s a little older but still as fun and cute as ever. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
4. Charlie (Herbert) from All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Another “poor-little-rich-boy” but what a romantic! A tormented Charlie searches for his lost sweetheart for years and is willing to go against his family’s wishes and give up the family fortune for her. And did I mention that author, Melissa Wiley, and I are on a mission to get the entire All-of-a-Kind Family series back in print? Right now, only the first book is available. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
5. Ahmed of Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide
Any kid that eager to learn to read gets my vote. Ahmed’s motivation comes from within and combined with his work ethic, you know that this kid is going places! He would be capable of moving a mountain for the girl he loved! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
6. Tommy Geiger’s older brother Nick in The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
Tommy is smitten with Rosalind so I am going with his older brother, Nick, who organizes and runs sports camps for the neighborhood kids to practice his coaching skills. Talk about a charismatic leader! He seems like he’d make a great dad someday. That’s why he made the list. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
7. Peregrine (a.k.a. Perry and The King) from The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye
I’m a sucker for royalty who prefer to be incognito, particularly those who are able to see the beauty within a special but ordinary-looking princess. [chapter book, ages 7 and up. This makes a great read-aloud book to girls even younger than 7.]
8. Ash Ketchum from Pokemon
I’ve read more than my fair share of Pokemon books so hear me out. Ash is kind to everyone, both human and Pokemon, and he’s adventurous, focused, ambitious and hardworking. He’s a little immature, this is true, but give him time. He might be good for my middle daughter … [graphic novels, ages 5 and up]
9. Jake from The Warriors by Joseph Bruchac
One of the best things about my year of blogging was discovering new authors and Joseph Bruchac is one of my new favorites. Jake, if he were a real person and slightly older, would be that combination of scholar/athlete that you see at Ivy League campuses everywhere but with a twist; he’s spiritual and Native American learning to be comfortable in his own skin. Isn’t that kind of irresistible? Ignore the boy on the cover. It doesn’t do him justice! [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
10. Percy Jackson from The Percy Jackson and The Olympians series by Rick Riordan
After his movie debut in The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson needs no introduction. I love him as a character but he’d potentially be a heartbreaker what with being a demi-god and all. But can anyone resist a hero? I think not! Just make sure your daughter is a good swimmer! [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Best Boys in Books to Run the World
For the next 10, I am inspired by boys in children’s literature who have so much charisma and leadership that they are surely future CEOs, turning their start-ups into supernovas with “disruptive” technologies or ideas. Think future Bill Gates, Facebook, Google, and Steve Jobs. Now imagine them as little boys. And as characters in books.
11. Nicholas Allen (a.k.a. “Nick”) of Frindle series by Andrew Clements
This was the book that made me start this category. Nick is just a kid with some interesting ideas, a great work ethic, the ability to organize and inspire a group, and … the kind of kid that can invest a new word that can make it, one day, into the big time! That’s right: Webster’s! [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
12. The Great Brain (a.k.a. “Tom “) of The Great Brain series by John Fitzgerald
This was one of my very favorite series growing up and I am not sure if anyone still reads and loves these books as I did. The Great Brain is the mastermind behind schemes both large and small designed to enrich his pocketbook as his “money-loving heart” dictates, but his Great Brain is capable of so much more. I pity the Catholic priests that ran his school. They had no chance against The Great Brain. [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
13 and 14. Mullet Fingers (a.k.a. “Napoleon Bridger”) and Roy Eberhardt of Hoot by Carl Hiaasan
Do you root for Roy Eberhardt or is the real hero his elusive would-be friend “Mullet Fingers” who prevents the destruction of habitat for the rare burrowing owls? I think they are both to be commended! [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
15. Billy of How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
It’s one thing to bet you can eat 15 giant Nightcrawler earthworms in 15 days but it’s another thing to actually do it. Can Billy pull it off? His new bike is riding on it. What impresses me about Billy is his stick-to-it-ness and his creativity in making worms palatable. Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern? Billy was robbed! [middle grade, ages 7 and up]
16. Eben McAllister of The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney
Finding wonder and excitement amid the everyday is the mark of a true entrepreneur who can see things no one else notices. Eben is able to rise to the challenge to find “7 Wonders” in his sleepy rural town, thus earning a trip to the big city. Perseverance, imagination, and people skills — all marks of a remarkable entrepreneur! [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
17. Tom Sawyer of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
It’s been so long since I’ve read Tom Sawyer but he’s the original “Piped Piper” selling the experience of whitewashing his picket fence to his friends. That is the mark of a talented salesperson who has vision and creativity. Who would use him? Ah yes, Sears, Borders, and a host of flailing companies! [young adult, ages 12 and up]
18. Maniac Magee (a.k.a. “Jeffrey Lionel”) of Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Maniac Magee is a talented athlete whose racial blindness breaks down racial barriers between two neighboring towns. It’s true that he’s just a white kid, and homeless at that, but his heart is pure and his athletic prowess so legendary that he becomes a role model, though reluctantly. Reminds me of CEOs at big auto in Detriot! [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
19. Marty Preston of Shiloh series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Marty stands up and bests his terrifying adult neighbor who abuses his dog, Shiloh such that Marty rescues and then rightfully wins the dog for his own. Standing up for what is right, defending the weak, and not giving up; is the stuff of heroes and CEOs. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
20. Tree-Ear of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
Yes, unusual name but this is 12th century Korea. What makes Tree-Ear remarkable? This is a Korean Horatio Alger story of coming from absolutely nothing; Tree-Ear is a boy who is homeless and living under a bridge and working his way up to greatness. For Tree-Ear, the path to a better life lies in learning a rare artistic skill of making priceless celadon pottery such as the pieces found in museums. In fact, the most famous example found today is attributed to … you guess! [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Best Boys in Books You’d Let Your Child Date
These next books are from readers. I would love to get these next 10 from readers (#21 through 30). Will you please help? Thanks! What boys in kidlit do you love?
21. Edmund from Narnia series by C. S. Lewis because of his humility
Thank you to Nancy of The Catholic Post Book Group. (God yes! I love this series!) [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
22. Will from The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan
… for his honesty and hard work. Thank you again to Nancy of The Catholic Post Book Group. (I haven’t read these yet and now I will!) [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
23. Calvin O’Keefe of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Swoon. Thank you to Phoebe of feebeeglee.blogspot.com [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
24. Jess from A Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Reader Siggi says, “the boy from Bridge to Terebithia, as he is brave and loyal, and willing to learn from his mistakes.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
26. Also from Siggi, “Ron Weasley from Harry Potter
… as he’s loyal, modest, and never stops caring or trying.” Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
27. Dickon from The Secret Garden
The strong, silent, nature-loving Yorkshire type. From The Bookworm who posted her top 10 list and I am stealing 3 from her for #27 through#31). (Oh yeah, I love the strong, silent type!) [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
28. Peter from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
I’m afraid I can’t get past Edmund’s stupidity in being fooled by the White Witch, so it has to be Peter. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
29. Gilbert Blythe, the boy who eventually marries Anne of Green Gables
Anyone good enough for Anne is good enough for my daughters! [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
Best Boys in Books with Super Powers
30. Harry Potter
I could use a wizard around the place. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
31. And as runner-up, Neville Longbottom
Not obviously exciting, but reliable, loyal, and courageous. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
32. I would add Ron Weasley too!
33. Fang from Maximum Ride
More strong, silent types. [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
34. Charlie Bone
[middle grade, ages 9 and up]
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p.s. Related posts:
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.