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evegrimm's avatar

Suggestions for a book for an 11 y.o. boy who doesn't like to read?

Asked by evegrimm (3714points) November 15th, 2009

My cousin has a birthday coming up, and I’d like to get him a book that he might, eventually, pick up and read (and enjoy).

I know that he liked (or at least, didn’t dislike) both the Artemis Fowl series and the Ranger’s Apprentice series, as well as the Percy Jackson series. (He likes Pokemon and willingly reads anything about them, but I think he has all of them, and besides, they’re very short.) He’s also very into video games and “guy” movies (such as Transformers, The Mummy, Star Trek, X-Men, etc.).

My aunt says he didn’t like the Hardy Boys.

I don’t have a lot of experience with boys (and their dislike of books), so I’m a little out of my depth with finding something he might enjoy reading.

I’m thinking something like the Alex Rider series or Cirque du Freak, or maybe even Pendragon, but I honestly don’t know.

Do any of you have some suggestions for me? The only thing I would stay away from is anything super-long, girly (obviously) or with lots of magic—he didn’t like PB Kerr’s Children of the Lamp series. Thanks!

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27 Answers

Drawkward's avatar

Us boys do NOT have a dislike of books!
I really liked A Series of Unfortunate Events, though that might be for slightly older kids. Harry Potter is good shtuff too. If they make Goosebumps books anymore, those too.

Supergirl's avatar

I teach 11 year old boys, and many of them say they don’t like reading, but if he is enjoying some of the books (or at least completing them), that is a great first step to him becoming a self-proclaimed reader.

I would suggest the following, which fit into the adventure/fantasy fiction books you mentioned above:

The Looking Glass Wars trilogy (the last book was just released)
39 Clues series
Greggor the Overlander
The Graveyard Book

Also—check which of the Ranger’s Apprentice/Percy Jackson books he has read, as there are quite a few in the series. The Ranger books are written by an Aussie author, and are released about a year early over there. I have gotten the Australian version off of before they come out here.

Good luck!

knitfroggy's avatar

My 10 year old daughter really loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. She used her birthday money to buy the 4th book in the series. She laughs out loud when she is reading, and says they are her favorite books. You might give those a try.

RedPowerLady's avatar

What about the Goosebumps books? Lots of young boys like those and they are fairly short.

There is also the Roald Dahl books which are loads of fun, maybe a bit easy for him??

What about the Wayside School Book series? It is a series of books about a Really Funny school.

jrpowell's avatar

See if you can find old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. I loved those.

Supergirl's avatar

@knitfroggy Wimpy Kid is absolutely hilarious. I have read them (professional research…) and laugh out loud the entire time. I think 85% of the jokes are way above anything a kid can understand. I am getting the series for my brother who is in med school as some comic relief. Good recommendation.

evegrimm's avatar

These are all great answers, and while I agree with most of them, I’m also worried about getting him something his mom perceives as “too young”. (She thinks her son is the bee’s knees—like most parents.)

I know, for instance, that The Ranger’s Apprentice (first book) is 272 pages, but Goosebumps tend to be about 150 pages long. I don’t want it to look like I think her kid’s an idiot. (She’s really touchy about such things.)

At the same time, I don’t want to get him something so long that it seems insurmountable, because that just defeats the purpose.

I’m sorry about not specifying in my question! I should definitely have put that in the list of requirements.

RedPowerLady's avatar

well, i… tried… tears :..(

There is also classics like Lord of the Flies or the Outsiders. They are used a bit above his age range but are short.

knitfroggy's avatar

Wow she would think you thought her kid was an idiot if you bought him a book that was too short? Wow! I can’t imagine being that touchy! Why not buy him a gift card to barnes and noble so he can pick something he likes.

acidlogik's avatar

When I was eleven my dad gave me The Hobbit which I have read at least a trillion times since. I always enjoyed reading though…

evegrimm's avatar

@RedPowerLady, @knitfroggy, and @others: I hope my answer didn’t offend! I just wanted to clarify why I wasn’t picking anything others had said. And yes, I know my aunt’s a bit bitchy, but I put up with her because she’s family.

@knitfroggy, that’s actually not a bad idea. (I would love that. Except…then I would probably go ahead and spend double that on other yummy books!)

Does anyone have any familiarity with the series I mentioned in my question? I don’t, so I have no idea if they fit my criteria.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@evegrimm Sorry no familiarity with those books. Amazon has great reviews but I’m sure you already know that.

Another I thought of is “The Giver”. Short but highly acclaimed.

Judi's avatar

My son LOVED the Goosebump books. He never would have learned to read without them.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Amulet, maybe? It’s a series about two siblings and their adventures.

rangerr's avatar

Harry. Potter.

trumi's avatar

Anything by Gordon Korman (No More Dead Dogs) or Jerry Spinelli (Maniac McGee). Trust me. A lot of the books recommended for this age group are great but too thick for kids that don’t enjoy reading. The Golden Compass, for example, will bore the hell out of him.

No More Dead Dogs was my favorite at that age, and it’s super light and fun.

Sarcasm's avatar

How about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books? Not sure when I read those, but it couldn’t have been later than age 14.
Fairly light, “fun” books.

coming from a boy who hates reading.

MacBean's avatar

Talk about good timing… I couldn’t think of anything to add, off the top of my head, so I bookmarked this question to come back to later and went to check my Google Reader. One of the articles was this:

50 Best Books for Boys and Young Men

skfinkel's avatar

All the Tin Tin books—my kids all adored them.

evegrimm's avatar

@MacBean, lurve for The Art of Manliness! (Even though I am a girl and should probably GTFO, I totally love that blog.)

aprilsimnel's avatar

@MissAnthrope -Yay, Captain Underpants!

shrubbery's avatar

I’d suggest the Deltora Quest series or the Rowan series by Emily Rodda. The first one of the Deltora Quest is called The Forests of Silence and the first Rowan book is called Rowan of Rin.
I’d also suggest Horrible Histories books- they make reading and learning about history fun. They’re gruesome and entertaining enough for an 11 year old boy.
Also, Andy Griffiths’ “Just” series. Books such as Just Disgusting, Just Annoying and Just Stupid.
And Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, the first being Wolf Brother.

bricklayer's avatar

When I was that age, I believe I was reading books by David Eddings (Pawn of Prophecy was a good one) and Terry Brooks (Sword of Shannara). To this day, I still enjoy David Eddings’ wit. I personally struggled with the Lord of the Rings when I was that age, but now I love those books as well. Lloyd Alexander’s books (The Book of Three, etc.) were books I remember enjoying but not understanding very well.

mcbealer's avatar

The Dangerous Book for Boys the title alone will intrigue him
Pick Me Up
the Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events series

I also think he would enjoy reading the Alex Rider series, as you suggested.

MissAusten's avatar

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is one that my daughter enjoyed. It’s very thick, which the boy’s mom will like, but has tons of amazing illustrations, which the boy will like. :)

Larklight is a fantastic space adventure.

I’d also like to second the suggestions for Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, No More Dead Dogs, and The Dangerous Book for Boys.

Maybe if you get him something that he would like and his mom would approve of, you could throw in something fun, like Captain Underpants. Those books are usually paperback and not expensive.

Another thing to consider would be giving him The Dangerous Book for Boys along with some small items he could use to do the activities in the book. On page 1 there’s a list of “Essential Gear.” I’m not sure how the Swiss army knife would go over with his mom, but the rest of the gear is pretty harmless.

Supacase's avatar

Pretty much anything by Gary Paulsen.

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