24 books for tween boys with ‘nothing to read’

24 books for tween boys with 'nothing to read'
Posted on July 20, 2017

24 books for tween boys with 'nothing to read' Over the past (almost) 12 months, the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group has blossomed into a wonderful community of nearly 2000 members. Time and again, I’ve seen call-outs from desperate parents, looking for books for readers of all levels, ages and interests, answered so swiftly and fulsomely that you just know there are kids across the country staggering around under teetering new TBR piles.

Today’s discussion was no different, and I’m going to share the recommendations here because I KNOW how commonplace a problem this one is. Firstly, the question.

I have an 11-year-old son who used to be a prolific reader. He’s in Year 6 but since Year 4, his reading has slowed considerably. He says most books bore him. He is not interested in fantasy or sci-fi, which a lot of boys’ books involve. He loved ‘Wonder’, ‘The London Eye Mystery’, ‘The Bubble Boy’, the YR version of ‘Ugly’. Books with real life themes seem to interest him most. I have asked the library and our local independent bookstore but both agree, there is little around for pre-teen boys without interest in the above. Can anyone here help us? Thanks so much in advance.

And now, a list of 24(+) recommendations, garnered from the collective wisdom of the YKNR FB group (made up of parents, teachers, librarians, authors, booksellers) and offered in no particular order.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker (kid review)

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (kid review)

Thirst by Lizzie Wilcock (kid review)

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Once series by Morris Gleitzman

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (kid review)

I survived (series) by Lauren Tarshis

Lion (A long way home) (young readers edition) by Saroo Brierley

Aliens, Ghosts and Vanishings: Strange and possibly true Australian stories by Stella Tarakson (ill. Richard Morden)

Every Falling Star: The true story of how I survived and escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Elon Musk and the quest for a fantastic future (young readers edition) by Ashlee Vance

Ghost (Track #1) by Jason Reynolds

Mao’s Last Dancer (young readers edition) by Li Cunxin

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard

Blueback by Tim Winton

The Call Of The Wild by Jack London

White Fang by Jack London

300 minutes of Danger by Jack Heath

The Martian by Andy Weir (YA edition)

Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks

The Fall by Tristan Bancks

Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (kid review)

What book would you add to the list? Put it in the comments below! 

You’ll find more details about the YKNR group (and more great lists of book recommendations for boys and girls in this age group) here. For info about my epic fantasy/adventure midde-grade series The Mapmaker Chronicles, go here, and The Ateban Cipher, go here.


  1. Carol Sainsbury-Cowell

    I have been retired from teaching for a while now but I also found Hatchet by Gary Paulsen was a sure fire winner with reluctant early teens. Also My Life in Dog Years by the same author.

    • Allison Tait

      Great suggestions Carol! Thanks!

  2. Wendy

    My 10 yr old son loves the Masterminds series by Gordon Korman, the 13-Story Treehouse series, Beetle Boy, the Terrible Two series, Mr Lemoncello’s Library series, The Island of Dr. Libris, Hatchet series, The Map to Everywhere, the I Survived series, Pax, A Boy Called Christmas, The Night Gardener, Cooper and Packrat series, Timmy Failure series, Stitch Head, and his most favorite…Wonder! And this all comes from a boy who”doesn’t like to read”!!!!

  3. Linsey Painter

    My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George is an amazing book.

  4. Tristan Bancks

    Great company to be in, Allison. Thanks so much for including ‘Two Wolves’ and ‘The Fall’. I’ll try some of these ideas out on my boys. So many of my faves here, too. ‘White Fang’, ‘Once’, ‘Striped Pyjamas’ etc.

    I’m a ‘Hatchet’ and ‘Holes’ fan as well as ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ and Lian Tanner’s ‘Icebreaker’. ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ can also work as a readaloud or readalone with tween boys. 😉

  5. Barbara Radisavljevic

    I’d suggest The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be and other books by Farley Mowat. My own tween son loved anything by Patrick McManus, especially The Grasshopper Trap. He also loved the Little Britches and the rest of the series by Ralph Moody.

    • Allison Tait

      Thanks so much Barbara!

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