My friend Jack is having a hard time finding good books to suit him.
I remember how difficult that was when Mr. Marvelous Jr. was at that age. It seemed as if all the good books were girly books. Junior was home schooling by that time, so I was responsible for literature. It was quite a struggle finding things to suit him even though he is almost as much a book-worm as his mother (this is the kid who at the age of 11 read Ben Hur straight through in just under 24 hours).
So here are a few authors and/or titles for my buddy Jack.
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
E. Nesbitt. Anything she writes is terrific. House of Arden and Harding's Luck are companion pieces. They are more serious and deal with time-travel. The Treasure Seekers, The Would-be-Goods and The New Treasure Seekers are just plain funny. Most of her other books, except the Railway Children (which is emotionally a more difficult book), have a LOT of humor in them. What would happen if magic really happened in this world? Probably a lot of very silly things!
G. A. Henty I didn't read that many of these, but Mr. Marvelous Jr. certainly enjoyed them
Jim Kjelgaard. He wrote all the Big Red books. Lots of fun
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Everyone has to read this at some point and dream about what it would be like.
The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, also by E. L. Konigsburg. Jack has a big sister.
Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. Back when I started teaching my friend John Boyd gave up his lunch hour twice a week to come and read these books through to my students so that I could have a break/planning period. My kids thought he was the greatest grown-up in the world. I tended to agree with them.
Gary Paulsen's Hatchet is good but is not for everyone.
Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book and Just-So Stories. Friends don't let friends grow up without reading these.
Marguerite Henry's books. Especially King of The Wind and Justin Morgan Had a Horse
Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy
Richard and Florence Atwater's Mr. Popper's Penguins. Please, please do not talk to me about the movie. Thanks.
E. B. White Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan
Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series. IMPORTANT: these are written by an English author in the 1930's and 1940's. A lot of modern children will not appreciate them. They can be perceived as rather slow and, if you are not interested in sailing, boring. But if you like British children's literature, and if you like sailing, you may enjoy them as much as my grown nephews do.
William Pene DuBois The Twenty-One Balloons
Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island. This is much more a book to have someone read out loud to you than one to just pick up and read on your own. Especially if that someone does the voices as well as my Mom did. See the end comments.
L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz series (there are a lot more of them than you think)
The Homer Price books by Robert McCloskey Especially if you like doughnuts!
The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill. Hard to find but a fantastic book.
So there you go, Jack. I hope you enjoy some of these!
Mr. Marvelous just told me that I left off Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. Which also reminds me of Ben and Me, and Mr. Revere and I, both by Robert Lawson
Oh and Jack? You really should dive into Narnia before too long. At this point I would highly recommend Dawn Treader (avoid the movie; the book is terrific) and The Horse and His Boy. The Silver Chair is my least favorite of all of them.
For the Mothers of sons who happen to be reading this, one of the most wonderful things that you can do for your son (and all your family) is to have a daily story time. Read out loud to the family. Share the books that you love. In our family we did not ever try and make it a time to practice reading out loud ~ we had other time for doing that. Story time was Mom reading a story to Mr. Marvelous and Mr. Marvelous Jr. The only rule was that they could not be reading something else while I was reading (cell phones and electronic games were not available back then. If they had been, they would have been banned). The men were not scolded for falling asleep, but they almost never did that. They did not intensely enjoy every single book I picked, but they listened and their horizons were expanded. It usually didn't last more than 30 minutes at the very most, and it was a very enjoyable way to end our day together.