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 is 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? [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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 of 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, but you 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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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 better people. Author R. J. Palacio visited my town and I have the backstory on how this chapter book came about here. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [middle grade, 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. [middle grade, 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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Also, The Pain and the Great One early chapter series 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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [chapter book, ages 6 and up]
The Adventures of Tin Tin series by Herge
This great book pick is from ReadAloudDad who has a great blog on kid lit. 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 Unicorn, ReadAloudDad tells me, is being made into a movie by Steven Spielberg. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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. [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 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 is a perfect book for children who are moving from picture books to chapter books. The seven short chapters are designed to be read once 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.
p.s. Related posts:
20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Girl
10 Upcoming Middle Grade Novels of Self-Discovery & GIVEAWAY!
Middle Grade Humor for Boys and 3 Signed Book GIVEAWAY!
6th Grade Girl Reviews Middle Grade Chapter Books
10 Middle Grade Books about Immigrant Families
Diverse Middle Grade Novels in Verse & GIVEAWAY!
Middle Grade Books with Refugee Themes & GIVEAWAY!
Middle Grade Books Featuring Characters Who are Incarcerated & 24 Hour GIVEAWAY!
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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.
34 thoughts on “20 Gentle Chapter Books with Boy Characters”
These are great choices, Mia!
Thanks Erica!! That means a lot coming from you! My son doesn’t necessarily read gentle chapter books but he likes them but not as much as action adventure.
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!
Thanks for your great suggestion. I will add Tin Tin to the list!!
Tintin was great fun to me as a child. As an adult, I’m reluctant to have my children read it, now that I have some understanding of racism and colonialism. It’s pretty bad stuff.
Hi Preschool Mom,
It is amazing how much racism existed in musicals and children’s books less than 80 years ago! Hopefully, in 80 years from now, people will say how weird it was that children’s books didn’t reflect people of color “back then.”
Great list, Mia. I really liked Wonder.
Would Love That Dog work for your list? It’s so moving, simple and elegant.
Love LOVE THAT DOG! Yes, thanks for your excellent suggestion! Will add it!
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!
I love Erica’s lists so much too! Thanks for your kind words! It means a lot of me (and I’m sure, her as well!). Please let me know which ones you end up reading and what you thought of them! Thanks!
Thank you for this post! Pinning for Johnny in a year or two!
Thanks so much for sharing on Pinterest MaryAnne! I would be honored if Johnny liked the list!
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.
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!
Nice list! My son is 7, but he may be ready for some of these already.
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!
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
Dixix O’Day in the Fast Lane sounds lovely. Adding it to the list! Thank you! I’ll link to your blog. I am hoping you have a post on it as well.
I do but I couldn’t post the URL :o)
Sorry about that Catherine. I found your link and added your wonderful recommendation! Thank you!
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!
Thanks so much Katie!!! That means a lot coming from you!
Always enjoy your posts and insight on books for boys. Thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks so much Stacie!
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.
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!!!
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
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!!
Your Homer Price mention reminded me of Keith Robertson’s “Henry Reed” series. Loved those books when I was a kid.
I don’t know the Henry Reed series but I will add it to my list of books to check out! Thanks for your great book recommendation!
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 🙂
Thanks so much! I do love those old classics!! Good point about girl vs boy protagonists! Thank you!
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.
Thank you so much for your wonderful book recommendations!! I especially want to hunt down your Betty G. Birney rec!!