SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Books for 8/9 year old boy?

Discussion started on

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
I'm starting to do my Christmas shopping (yes, I'm just starting), and every year I buy my kids books. (Of course!) I need some suggestions for my son. Here's a bit of backstory for him, as a reader:

Reading didn't come as easily to him as to his older sister, and yes, that's kind of part of what is happening with him. For a long time, up until mid-last year (2nd grade), he was only into graphic novels. Which was fine with me (I love graphic novels!), but I was always on the lookout for opportunities to broaden his range. The first "novel" he read was How To Eat Fried Worms -- which appealed to him, I think, not only content, but the short length of chapters. From there he moved to the Encyclopedia Brown series, the ABC Mysteries, and other shortish-chapter, "not so fat" books. At some point, we discovered the "& Me" series by Dan Gutman -- son is a huge sports kid -- and he started tackling longer works. And is loving everything!! Most recently, he's read (and loved) the Origami Yoda/Darth Paper books, the Wimpy Kid series, and some Roald Dahl. He's currently obsessed with How I Survived Middle School, and is plowing through it.

So, there you go. I want to get him a few newer titles to keep him riding this current wave of total love of reading -- and his newfound confidence in reading "long" books. The above are his tastes (and, no, he hasn't really latched on to HP, the way the rest of us in the house have), and I'm wondering if you all have some suggestions for Santa to leave under the tree. I have lots of books, old and new, but wondered if there was something published lately that I've missed that you think he would just soak up.  While he loves fast & funny, he was also very intrigued by the discussion his sister and I had of WHEN YOU REACH ME, and seems interested -- so I'm not convinced his tastes are limited to humor or "boy books".  But I do think with some books that are not as fast & funny, shorter chapter length would be important.

So, what books would you recommend for a third grader like my kid?


#1 - December 09, 2011, 03:22 PM

He may already have these, but if he likes Roald Dahl, the first thing that comes to mind is A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. They're short, fast-paced, and funny.
Also - while I haven't read them yet, I've heard good things about the Pseudonymous Bosch (sp?) series, too. I think it starts with THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET, and they seem to be in a similar style to Dahl and Snicket.
#2 - December 09, 2011, 04:07 PM

YES on the Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch.  I love each and every one of those.

If you haven't already read it, try Alcatraz Vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (and the rest of the series, too).  My boys howled through that book, and I though it had one of the most clever and fun premises ever.

Also try Savvy and Scumble (might want to start with Scumble if your son is at all squeamish about a girl MC).  All of my MG boys loved them, and the words are printed a little bigger which gives the impression that it's an easier book to read.  (So says the mother of a son who looks for those kinds of things when choosing which book to read.)

The Accidental Adventure Series (C. Alexander London) is pretty funny, too.  The first book is We Are Not Eaten By Yaks, and the 2nd one is We Dine With Cannibals.

I've only read the first chapter or two, but Greg Fishbone's newest one (The Galaxy Games, I think is the title?) looks like one a younger MG boy would love. 

Kurtis Scaletta's Mudville is good.  So is his Mamba Point.

And, as always, check out the blog for more suggestions:
#3 - December 09, 2011, 04:32 PM


How about Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow by Nathan Bransford? As you probably know, Mr. Bransford is a retired literary agent. Jacob Wonderbar is the first book of a series. It's short, the MC is a boy, and the age group is leaning toward eight to ten-year-olds.
#4 - December 09, 2011, 06:01 PM

These are all great suggestions! Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist is good, too ... and how about The Mysterious Benedict Society?
#5 - December 09, 2011, 06:07 PM

Roving Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
Edison's Gold by Geoff Watson -- A decendant of Thomas Edison and a decendant of his nemesis (who's name escapes me) race each other around New York hunting treasure.
#6 - December 09, 2011, 06:50 PM

My boys at that age liked the Time Warp Trio books by Jon Scieszka. Tut. Tut was their favorite.

Consider Matt Christopher for sports books.
#7 - December 09, 2011, 06:55 PM

My nine year old son  loved A WHOLE NOTHER STORY (Cuthbert Soup) and it's sequel.
#8 - December 10, 2011, 09:42 AM

How about Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass since he seems interested in When You Reach Me?
#9 - December 10, 2011, 09:47 AM

Big Nate series by Lincoln Pierce
My Weird School Daze series by Dan Gutman
Zombiekins by Kevin Bolger

If he likes actiony-suspense, both Gordon Korman and Margaret Peterson Haddix have some good series.
#10 - December 10, 2011, 10:22 AM
CLAWS, Chicken House 2012
JALA'S MASK, Pyr, November 4, 2014

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
Your son seems to have similar tastes to my son. He's 11 now. Some books he's really liked in the past few years:

Wimpy Kid series
Series by Pseunodymous Bosch
39 Clues Series
David Lubar "Weenie" short story collections
Galaxy Games by Greg Fishbone
Big Nate series
books by Gordon Korman
My Weird School chapter book series by Dan Gutman
#11 - December 10, 2011, 10:31 AM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
OMG, everyone, this is a fantastic list! You have his tastes spot on -- he's read some of these, but not all, and I was just drawing a blank. I mean, Santa was.

But how will I choose? I mean, Santa???

Thank you, thank you!!!!
#12 - December 10, 2011, 01:54 PM

I got to thinking that Jennifer Nielson's Elliot and the Goblin War (and the sequel, Elliot and the Pixie Plot) would be another two good choices.  Not that you need any more suggestions from me.  :embarrassed2
#13 - December 10, 2011, 06:08 PM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region florida
M. Buckley's NERDS series is exciting (spy kids), especially book one.  Also, CABIN FEVER was just released (Diary of a Wimpy Kid.)  No, it's not the most uplifting literature, but it helps with love of reading and fluency to master tougher reads.  Also, the Beverly Cleary RALPH S. MOUSE books are excellent.  My nine year old son read them all and loved them.  They're novels with slightly larger print.
#14 - December 10, 2011, 07:15 PM
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 07:26 PM by ButterflyGirl »
Ten Clever Ninjas (picture book, Clear Fork Publishing, 2019)
Butterfly Girl (middle grade novel, Clear Fork Publishing, 2019)

Twitter: @kidlitSarah

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region wwa
Besides what's been mentioned already, here's what comes to mind:

* Ursula Verson's Danny Dragonbreath series: Dragonbreath, Attack of the Ninja Frogs, Curse of the Were-Weiner, etc.

* Bruce Coville's Magic Shop books: Monster's Ring, Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, Jennifer Murdley's Toad, etc.

* Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck

* anything by Andrew Clements

* anything by Avi
#15 - December 10, 2011, 09:35 PM
BE A CHANGEMAKER, Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, 9/2014
EMMANUEL'S DREAM, Schwartz & Wade, Spring 2015
MY DOG IS THE BEST, FSG, Spring 2015


Has anybody mentioned Goosebumps?  I was  never a huge fan, but my kids ate them up, and I've known two boys who got hooked on reading as a result of them. Which makes them number one in my, um, book.  I second Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket and the Horrible History series, which I've also known reluctant reader boys to devour.
#16 - December 11, 2011, 06:05 AM


My son is eight, but reads up. Like your son he's not into the "fat books" yet. He just brought home from school:

Jon Sciesza's Time Warp Trio: Da Wild Da Crazy Da Vinci (which he set off reading right away despite never reading a TWT book)


Hank Zipzer: Niagra Falls, or Does It? by Henry Winkler and the lovely Lin Oliver. (As a side note I told him I've met Lin at a couple of SCBWI conferences and my son said he would be sooo excited if he met her . . .  I gave him the line she told our group at my first conference "She's just a writer- just like you! She's just published." (That's my quote not a direct quote from her, but it was something to that effect.

He also really liked The Littles series (which I loved as a kid) by John Peterson. Though that may be getting too young (?)

Merry Christmas! :santa

Thanks for the post! This helps me with my Christmas list too!!!


#17 - December 11, 2011, 08:05 AM

I went to the Nene 2012 list made by Hawaii librarians, they have 30 books total on the list and a wide range of what look like fun books. I haven't read these but thought they're all pretty new and might be worth taking a look at:

The Familiars by Epstein and Jacobson (three magical animals go to rescue their owners)

The Giant Slayers by Lawrence (about kids in a polio ward in 1955 who tell each other fantasy stories, and it got some really good reviews)

Swindle by Korman (a kind of heist story for kids where they have to break in to get back an important baseball card)

We the Children by Clements (this one I read, I love Clements and recommend everything by him, this book doesn't end the story, though, it's a series and the first book ends basically right at the start of the story, so you'll need to actually buy them all in a row, I guess, the subplot of the first book isn't that much--I would recommend more any of his standalones, like Week in the Woods, for example)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Lin (this is about a girl as MC so do boys read it, I don't know, personally I don't hesitate to give books with girl MCs to boys, my nephews always read books like that and I did too as a child--This one I never read but it got seriously rave reviews everywhere)

Not on the list but I was reminded of this one:
Skeleton Man by Bruchac (this one I read long ago, it's a kind of suspenseful thriller for kids, little scary, very quick read)

Dying to Meet You by Klise (this is a funny story done with letters and newspaper articles, pretty easy to read, word of mouth has been pretty good)
#18 - December 12, 2011, 01:11 PM
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 01:13 PM by KeithM »
Keith McGowan,

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
Forgot to mention another book my son loved: The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman.
#19 - December 12, 2011, 06:05 PM


0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.