Dear Boston Mamas, I'd love recommendations for chapter books for boys; we've bled dry Captain Underpants, Stink, the Magic Treehouse series, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Since so many kids' book writers seem to be women, there is a preponderance of girl stories. HELP ME! I have two avid readers who don't want Ramona or Junie B. Jones. What to do???
Fantastic question! As the mother of a girl, I certainly benefit from all of those women writers, and I also understand why you need some inspiration on books for your boys. Here are some thoughts:
1. If you haven't yet explored Ruth Stiles Gannett's trilogy of chapter books about Elmer and his dragon friend, you should. These are actually my favorite of Laurel's chapter books (so, moms of girls, you should get these books too!).
2. I sent a quick e-mail to my lovely friend Gabrielle of Design Mom (she's a mother of six so, you know, she reads a lot of books with her kids!). She also said that the Elmer and the dragon series is her "very favorite." She also recommended the Time Warp Trio books for an older audience.
3. I floated out a query about chapter books for boys on Twitter and received a wonderful response (thank you people of Twitter)! Here were the recommendations that came in. Many of these authors have multiple books so I just linked up an example book or the first in a series. Note that I didn't link up the books you mentioned already depleting or recommendations for wee ones. Also note that I have not read/vetted all of these books myself so be sure to read the book descriptions to see if they would be right for your boys.
From @mootpoynt: "Here Be Monsters, the How to Train Your Dragon series, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Hatchet, the Big Nate books; a young adult book called Touching Spirit Bear. Books by Rick Riordan, Jerry Spinelli & Andrew Clements...of the 3, Riordan and Spinelli lean more toward upper elementary. My son keeps re-reading all Riordan's books as he waits for sequels. They're fabulous. For fun and goofy stories, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Megan McDonald's Stink series transitioned my son to chapter books. Truly, Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret is dazzling. When I taught 3rd grade, EVERY kid devoured it... even kids who didn't typically read for fun. It was the first "magical" connection my son had to a long chapter book. Another series that my son & many of his friends enjoy: 39 Clues. Interesting multimedia tie-ins, geography & intrigue. Also, a quick and delicious series (though a bit spooky): The Spiderwick Chronicles. And author Jon Scieszka has an organization called Guys Read with good recommendations."
These recommendations ought to keep your boys busy! Thanks again for writing in Sarah, and I'm super grateful to everyone who shared their recommendations!
Have a question for Christine? Drop her a line! And of course feel free to comment in if you have recommendations beyond those made above.