boys and reading, reluctant readers, reading, reading strategies, Andy Sherrod

Books for Reluctant Boy Readers

Children’s Author Andy Sherrod’s Book Picks for Boys Who Hate to Read

I wanted to spend this week covering books and reading strategies for reluctant boy readers and I had all these great posts that I found during the past year stored up, so here they are! This was a great post by The Hate Mongering Tart about writer Andy Sherrod. Andy not only gives tips about how engage boys as readers but also gives book suggestions coupled with research.

I also have a category of posts on Reluctant Readers here for anyone who wants more information.

p.s. If you like this post, you might also like Top 10: Baseball Chapter Books.


“The first thing Andy talked about was ACTIVE LITERACY.  He said that a lot of guys have no problem reading the sports section or a magazine, but that doesn’t have a narrative.  There is no plot to get mired in, to compel you further into the story.  And in what might be deemed slightly controversial by comic book fans, Andy said, “I am not against graphic novels.  They’re a great entry into reading, but it should go beyond that.”  He has a point though — and I kind of agree.  Graphic novels do get kids to pick up a book.  But there are other ways to get reluctant readers into books as well …

Also, Andy noted — and I love this website, too, — that author Jon Sciezska‘s is a great resource for finding dude books for dudes of all ages.  Check it out!”

The full post is here.

And here is the list of books that Andy suggests:

#1: Have a boy(ish) protagonist. *Andy also cited a Georgia study which concluded that the gender of the protagonist is not the key to getting boys interested in a story — the activity or the action is.

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

#2: Approach problem solving like a dude. *In a University of New Hampshire study, Andy said, boys liked books where the protagonists acted alone and went to unfamiliar territories, while girls preferred books where the characters acted in a group in more familiar territories.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Babysitters Club (series) by Ann M. Martin

The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins

The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Voyage(Chronicles of Courage series) by Michelle Torrey

Small White Scar by K. A. Nuzum

#3: Emotional authenticity

Andy says that yes, guys have emotions.  It just is uncomfortable sometimes for them to show emotion, and to read heavily emotional scenes.

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

Under the Blood-Red Sky by Graham Salisbury

#4: Facts

According to Andy, guys want to be actively learning when they read.

The New Way Things Work by David Macauley

Team Moon by Catherine Thimmish

Guts by Gary Paulsen

My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen

The Legend of Bass Reeves by Gary Paulsen

Doyle and Fossey, Science Detectives (series) by Michelle Torrey (I have a post on this here.)

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

Follow PragmaticMom’s board Reluctant Readers on Pinterest.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Thanks for sharing Andy’s list! My sons (one was a reluctant reader and one was an avid reader) have enjoyed several of these great recommendations. A couple of their faves that weren’t on the list (so many outstanding books, I know they can’t all be listed!), but that I can’t resist mentioning for boys: MANIAC MCGEE by Jerry Spinelli and TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN by Philippa Pearce.

    • To Good Books for Young Souls,
      Thank you sooo much for your book recommendations. I have added them to my list of Best Books for Boy Readers, Reluctant or Otherwise.

  2. Steve Vernon

    I’d give a definite thumbs-up on Gary Paulsen’s work. It’s straightforward and reeks of the male genre. A reluctant boy reader can pull out a book with Gary Paulsen on the title and not worry that any of his buddy’s are going to make fun of him.

    Richard Peck is another good choice. I’m less sold on THE HUNGER GAMES – although Stephen King’s similarly themed novel THE LONG WALK might definitely interest a young boy.

    I’d also throw in Robert Newton Peck as a great choice for reluctant boy readers. His Soup series is fantastic. Also dug his book BRO.

    And, I’d have to add that I’ve had an awful lot of positive feedback from my own book SINKING DEEPER: MY QUESTIONABLE DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER. With today tattoos, caber tossing, musical saw, bagpipes, a jailbreak, a ghost or two and a SEA MONSTER you can’t go wrong.

    Subject matter is key. Nearly anything that focuses on monsters, ghosts, war, and/or sports is going to most likely perk the interest of your average reluctant boy reader – if there is such a critter.

    yours in storytelling,

    Steve Vernon

    • To Steve Vernon,
      Thank you for your book suggestions. I’ve added them to my post: Best Books for Boy Readers, Reluctant or Otherwise (ages 7-14) including your book. I’d love to review your book if you can shoot me a copy! Thanks!

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