Do you have any suggestions for encouraging young boys to read? Trying to get my son to pick up a book this summer has been like pulling teeth.

Everyone knows that the best way to improve reading skills is by reading, but that can be a tough sell for boys who don’t feel like books have anything interesting to offer them.  The best thing to do is focus on what your child is particularly interested in.  If he is like many boys, most fiction holds little appeal and classic childhood titles like Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little just won’t cut it.  Here are some tried and true genres that even the pickiest boys have enjoyed for years:



Joke Books:  Joke books are great because they offer quick satisfaction for a frustrated reader.  You don’t have to spend much time reading to get to the funny punch line!




Natural Disaster Books:  For some reason, boys just love to read books about tornados, volcanoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters and we are happy to provide them!




World Records/Ripley’s Believe it or Not:  Always a crowd pleaser.



The top 10 of everything in sports


Sports StatisticsFun factoids to read and learn!



Scary Stories


Scary Stories: Who doesn’t like a good creepy story?





Comic Books:  You might wonder if comic books are “legitimate” reading material.  Current research says that reading comic books can do a lot to develop children into lifelong readers of all types of books.


Additional Resources:

Guys Read: A web-based literacy program for boys

How Comics Helped My Kid Love Reading by Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media editor at The Huffington Post


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4 Responses to Do you have any suggestions for encouraging young boys to read? Trying to get my son to pick up a book this summer has been like pulling teeth.

  1. Rashida Francis says:

    I have two boys, 15 and 10 years old. I suggest choose books that are on topics that your son enjoys, even if it seems unrealistic to you. Also don’t get frustrated if your son chooses a book and then loses interest. All readers do this. We (readers) have genres that we prefer over the others. Don’t focus on the length of the book or the rigor of the content. Magizines, picture books, joke books, the newspaper (especially the comics section) or even books on tape are all great resources. Lastly, I recommend segregating a time for reading, where even you read. Some times I will read along with my boys. I read a paragraph or a page to them and then they read to me and we always end with a discussion where we share our honest thoughts on what we read. I seldom correct my boys for their opinion on a book. This way it is a safe space and they develop a love for the process, more so than a specific book. 🙂

  2. Sarah V. says:

    My 7 year old son LOVES to read. He reads all sorts of comic books, and some of his favorite books are about: Frog and Toad, Elephant and Piggie, Junie B. Jones, Bunnicula, monsters, historic figures such as Nikola Tesla and the past American Presidents, dinosaurs, science and many, many more!

    There are chapter books starring comic book heroes like Spiderman, Batman, Ninjago, Star Wars and The Hulk. If the books are funny or have a lot of adventure, he may be more apt to pick them up and connect with the stories more.

    One way I was able to share my love of reading with my son was to explain to him that books contain entire worlds that we can visit and experience. I taught him to imagine the people and places in his head so that when he reads it’s like a movie is playing in his mind.

    If your son finds something that he’s interested in, even if it seems “girly” or “childish” please don’t discourage him from reading. If his choices are belittled or he’s told that he should be reading things for boys instead of girls, he may be put off and not want to read because of being made to feel embarrassed or put down due to his choices.

  3. Sandy Neal says:

    It depends on the age of your son! My stepson was only interested in sports (anything with a ball in it!) so I got him a copy of Strange But True Sports Stories and the Sports Illustrated for boys magazine which they may not have any longer. I think he was about 8 at the time. Then, when he couldn’t be outside, he could read about his favorite things!

    Read together! I remember my son and I reading Cold Sassy Tree together when he was a teenager. We read a chapter after dinner to each other and discussed the topics brought up in the book. A small neighbor boy came over one night and was concerned because I was reading to my son. This boy thought that meant my son couldn’t read! He joined us for the evening!

  4. Jo says:

    I’m not sure what you mean by young boys, but if he is under the age of eight, I’d read to him more than expecting him to read to himself. You can leave great books about topics that interest him lying around, but it’s still hard work and not fun at this stage (unless he’s an early reader).

    Also, we take advantage of the audio books at the library. Some have fantastic actors reading. Something like “The Tale of Desperaux” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” could be lots of fun. Raold Dahl has a great number of books that might appeal to boys and the audios are often tons of fun. It’s a great way to pass time in the car and I rarely have to hear arguments over what to listen to. It’s especially useful on long car rides for vacations.

    I am a believer that quality does matter. I think the attitude that getting them to read anything is worthwhile is bogus. But there are too many good books to make them endure something that’s torture for them (at least until they’re older and in higher learning). My daughter, age 9, loves the Great Brain series, as did my brother and I at her age. They are stories of four brothers in Utah at the turn of the century. My younger daughter (7) loves anything Pooh – A.A. Milne’s that is. Not the Disney books. I realize these are daughters, but these books are great and gender neutral. All my children have always loves the Beatrix Potter series. My four year old loves BP, but he also loves machines. His other favorites are the Virginia Lee Burton books, “Locomotive,” and anything Richard Scarrey. There are others he likes, but these are among the ones I have to read over and over and over…

    There are great books about building shacks and shelters, survival skills, animals, trains, historical and modern biographies, magic, etc. Just get lots and leave them lying around and limit screen time. Watch what he picks up. It will clue you into what to buy.

    I have a book called “Honey for a Child’s Heart” that has given me a number of great suggestions for children’s literature. I’m sure there are other great books of that sort available, but the author have lists according to age and interest in the back and it has been immensely helpful. We homeschool and I get great lists on, but they are probably more suited to those with a strong literary bent. You might try them, but children not used to reading a lot might not have the patience.

    Again, I urge you to read together as a family b/c comprehension is often ahead of reading ability and he’ll most likely learn to love books and stories cuddled up to you. Soon, he’ll be reading them off on his own. At least that’s my experience from childhood and adulthood.

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