Choosing books for boys

In their desire to provide high-quality literature for their kids, sometimes parents overlook the books their boys might actually want to read. Don’t pass over graphic novels, joke books and nonfiction.


By Carolyn James, Ph.D.

LeapFrog Literacy Expert

As the literacy development expert on LeapFrog’s Learning Team, Carolyn ensures that the curricular design in LeapFrog products is grounded in the latest educational research. Before joining LeapFrog, Carolyn was a reading professor at Sacramento State University, a curriculum developer for the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, and a teacher in the San Francisco bay area. She earned her doctorate in educational psychology at Michigan State University.

In their desire to provide high-quality literature for their kids, sometimes parents overlook the books their boys might actually want to read. Don’t pass over graphic novels, joke books and nonfiction.

Note preferences among boys

Draw on research done by educators, librarians and publishers and look for reading materials with one or more of the following qualities: 

  • Characters or heroes that reflect your son’s personal goals and passions
  • Books written in series, with characters they come to know and care about over time
  • Humor that will make your son laugh and appeal to his sense of adventure and mischief
  • Emphasis on plot and action over description and emotion
  • Content they can use in conversation, including jokes, fun facts and statistics

Build on your son’s passions, questions and preferences

Studies show that when children are excited about a topic, they will keep reading. Even the most active boy can get lost in a book—or a website or an adventure-packed comic book—that matches his passions and preferences. Children’s librarians and bookstore owners are precious allies, but there are online resources as well:

Make sure the text matches your son’s reading level

Teach your son the “Five-Finger Test” to find books at the right level: Read one page of the book (or section of the magazine, comic book, website, etc). If there are more than five unknown words, choose something else to read.

Studies show that children are more motivated to read when they feel successful and can approach books with confidence.