Tired of only finding books for your boys that are full of bum jokes, fart jokes and people getting their heads chopped off? Here are some books for thoughtful boys that evoke wonder and awe without resorting to toilet humour, violence or product placement!
Where are the books for thoughtful boys?
Book shelves, libraries and book fairs are rife with texts that explore the fascinating worlds of toilet humour and trademarked characters. It can almost seem like a mission impossible to find a text that doesn’t try to hook readers through crudeness but instead passes on real messages about life. Respect, tolerance, the importance of education, looking out for others, friendship, loyalty and courage. These are the kinds of messages we want our boys to learn – but where are the books that will help us teach them?
The books that we have included on our list chiefly serve those in the teen and preteen age bracket. If you have any great suggestions for texts that fall outside of these margins please add them in the comments so others may benefit from your wisdom!
The Real Boy – Anne Ursu
This is a fantasy text that has very real and relevant links to the lies of tweens. Oscar must break free of his structured life to save the day and the elements of his personality and being that make him seem ‘odd’ are what make him a vital and important member of his society. From the author, “Oscar is a character who is rich and complicated. His autism informs his personality but does not define it.” Sounds like vital reading to us.
Warp Speed – Lisa Yee
Yee has written several texts circling around the same group of friends in high school but this is one that particularly shines. Marley Sandelski takes centre stage in this outing at Rancho Rosetta Middle School. This is a story about bullying that will break your heart right open because of how realistically it is depicted – but it’s how Sandelski finds strength that will inspire hope and potentially change your own child’s perspective of their situation.
Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities – Mike Jung
Ha! This story is a trick! It’s like hiding the vegetables in dinner and we love it. It’s a story about superheroes and saving the world, yes, but it’s the CAST that’s the key to the tale. The diverse characters who play alongside the main character Vincent Wu celebrate diversity and open children’s eyes to people and lifestyles beyond their own immediate situations. This story is funny, action-packed and subversive and we love it.
A Long Walk To Water – Linda Sue Park
This is a brief text that’s based on a true story and is told from two perspectives. It’s one of survival and resilience and it follows the journey of Salva Dut. He goes from Sudan, to an Ethiopian refugee camp. to the United States and then back to Sudan to start a nonprofit organisation. This is a remarkable story and helps children who want to make a difference to the world around them. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
No 1. Car Spotter – Atinuke
This is a story about community, family and friendship that’s set in modern Africa. The main character, Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, is funny, quirky, inventive and caring. This is a great one for new perspectives, giggles and appreciating your own communtity at home.
The importance of finding books for thoughtful boys
Our society and education system is, unfortunately, one that sometimes only rewards certain types of boys. Those who fall outside of those margins are made to feel ‘less than’ and discouraged from being themselves. Books for thoughtful boys allow them to see people who are like them and who have ideas like them succeed and simply exist. It’s vital to be able to find yourself in literature – and these are the kind of books to do it.