Tips for getting boys to read

5. Use an interest as a hook
If there is a hobby or sport your son likes, find relevant fictional or non-fictional books that will appeal to him. Whether your boy likes soldiers, nature, aeroplanes, pirates or motorbikes, go to the library together and look for books on the subject. Many boys enjoy football and you can see our recommended football books here.

Star Wars - Destiny Coruscant Join characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and prove yourself worthy of your Jedi training. A “choose your own adventure” with links to online games. The Comic Strip History Space A fantastic book for all space fans, this book looks at the universe through a mixture of innovative comic-style illustrations and entertaining text.

6. Build regular reading time into the day
Set aside a regular time to read with boys and listen to them reading. Ask younger boys to point out things in the pictures. Don’t stop reading with boys once they can read themselves, as boys can switch off from reading once they know the basics. Keep them interested by talking about the plot, asking who their favourite character is and what a different end to a story might be.

7. Experiment with genres
Encourage boys to try out a variety of books and authors to see what suits their taste - fast-paced adventure, horror and science-fiction are often popular, as are fact-based books such as the Guinness Book of Records

Horrowitz Horror A hitchhiker who isn't what he seems, a mobile phone that lets you contact the dead…just a sample of the sinister stories that you’ll wish you hadn’t read! Stuff that scares your pants off! This science-based book examines common fears (e.g. spiders) and the statistical likelihood of bad things happening – a re-assuring read for anxious children!

Reading recommendations for boys
For more suggestions for books we think boys will enjoy, click on the appropriate age range.

Baby to 3    Age 3 to 5    Age 5 to 7    Age 7 to 11

Baby to 3

There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly
Pam Adams

This classic board book retells a childhood favourite and can be enjoyed by adults as well as toddlers. Young children love the brightly coloured pages with their ever growing holes. The various animals shown in the old lady's belly are guaranteed to have your toddler giggling.

Emergency! Emergency!

A sturdy board book full of exciting, detailed pictures of rescue vehicles including a fire engine, police car, ambulance and helicopter. With eight sound buttons that children can press as they read along with the story, this book will be adored by young boys who can't get enough of rescue vehicles and noisy siren sounds!

Busy Airport Busy Airport
Rebecca Finn

It’s a very busy day at the airport! The simple push or pull of a tab in this chunky, interactive board book can cause all sorts of amazing things to happen: bags go round the carousel, helicopters take off and aeroplanes fly through the clouds!

Each Peach Pear Plum Each Peach Pear Plum
Janet Ahlberg and Allan Ahlberg

A board book version of this classic picture book that introduces characters from traditional stories, such as the Three Bears, Mother Hubbard and Tom Thumb, and encourages children to participate and to find the characters hidden in the pictures.

My Dad My Dad
Anthony Browne

He's all right, my dad. He's as strong as a gorilla and as happy as a hippopotamus. He's a great dancer, a brilliant singer,he's fantastic at football and he makes me laugh. A warm, hilarious, witty and very personal tribute to Dad - and to dads everywhere.

My First Busy Day Let’s Get Learning My First Busy Day Let’s Get Learning

With lots of colourful pictures, fun-filled questions, familiar activities and objects, your toddler will love learning about their busy day with this tactile board book. Read it together and help them turn the pages using the easy-grip picture tabs; from getting dressed and getting out and about, to learning to count and getting ready for bedtime.

That’s Not My Dinosaur That’s Not My Dinosaur
Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

Every double page of this book features an interesting texture to feel, such as bumpy teeth or slippery flippers, as the reader explores the surface of a toy dinosaur. Combined with simple text and illustrations this is intended to help very young children develop sensory and language awareness

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy
Lynley Dodd

Hairy Maclary goes off for a walk in town, followed by a few friends. All is uneventful until they meet Scarface Claw, the toughest tom in town, and run for home. The story is told by a brilliant, cumulative rhyming text and terrific pictures.

Garden Garden
Felicity Brooks and Jo Litchfield

5 colourful scenes show the garden in all its glory, from flowers to paddling pools, trees to sandpits and plants to barbeques. It provides a fantastic way for children to get to know their own routines and surroundings too, as the objects in the scenes can be spotted in real life.

Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose
Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt

"Chocolate mousse!" says greedy Goose. "Don't just grab it," says angry Rabbit. Good manners aren't on the menu at this meal. Duck won't eat his carrots. Moth's eating the cloth, and Sheep would rather sleep than wash the dishes. Thank goodness some of the animals know how to behave!

Age 3 to 5

Surprising Sharks Surprising Sharks
Nicola Davies and James Croft

The last word you want to hear when you're swimming in the warm blue sea is "SHARK!" But most real sharks are not what you might expect. Some are no bigger than a chocolate bar, some have built-in fairy lights and most wouldn't go near a human!

The Cat in the Hat The Cat in the Hat
Dr Seuss

When the Cat in the Hat steps in on the mat, Sally and her brother are in for a roller-coaster ride of havoc and mayhem! The Cat can rescue them from a dull rainy day, but it means lots of thrills and spills along the way.

Mister Magnolia Mister Magnolia
Quentin Blake

In this wittily rhyming picture book, Mr Magnolia has a full and happy life except for one serious omission - a boot. But one day, he receives a mysterious parcel, and at last Mr Magnolia can splash in the puddles with everyone else!

Zog Zog
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Zog is the keenest dragon in school. He's also the most accident-prone. Luckily, a mysterious little girl always comes by and patches up his bumps and bruises. But will she be able to help him with his toughest test: capturing a princess? A wonderfully funny story from the creators of The Gruffalo and Stick Man.

Weather Weather
Catriona Clarke

A great book explaining the science of weather in an entertaining way with lots of pictures. Perfect if your boy is curious about what makes it rain, and where thunder comes from.

Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School
Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds

It's Harry's first day at school. He and his dinosaurs are very excited and perhaps a little bit nervous. But when Harry's dinosaur friends don't join him in the classroom, Harry's not so sure he's going to like school, but the dinosaurs come to the rescue and Harry and his new friend learn just how much fun school can really be!

The Little Red Train: The Runaway Train The Little Red Train: The Runaway Train
Benedict Blathwayt

The first charming tale in The Little Red Train series which will appeal to boys obsessed with engines, trains and things that go! Oh no! Duffy has forgotten to put on the brake and the Little Red Train has set off down the track without its driver! Can Duffy catch up with the runaway train?

Kipper Story Collection Kipper Story Collection
Mick Inkpen

In this delightful story collection, you will find the four classic Kipper picture books: Kipper, Kipper's Toybox, Kipper's Birthday and Kipper's Snowy Day. It is the perfect gift for old and new Kipper fans!

Age 5 to 7

Actual Size Actual Size
Steve Jenkins

Just how big is a crocodile? What about a tiger, or the world's largest spider? Can you imagine a tongue that is two feet long or an eye that is bigger than your head? This book illustrates animals both large and small at their actual size.

The Cat Who Got Carried Away The Cat Who Got Carried Away
Allan Ahlberg

In this book from the gripping Gaskitt series, Gus and Gloria have a lot of running to do, Mrs Gaskitt hardly ever gets out of bed and something dreadful happens to Horace! (Also starring: a brainy rat named Randolph; a barking pram; and a considerable number of penguins.) What more do you want?

I am Batman I am Batman
Adrian Barrios, Kanila Tripp

A good early reading book introducing Batman and The Joker. This book is a great choice for a boy who likes superheros, and it should grip even reluctant readers.

Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky
Philip Ardagh

Grubtown is full of oddballs - from the singing Grumbly girls to a family of duck-haters, and an out-sized mayor who's knitting a new house - but Manual Org is too repulsive even for them. Getting him to leave town is top priority, until the discovery of a humongous diamond changes everything...

Horrid Henry Horrid Henry
Francesca Simon and Tony Ross

Horrid Henry tries to be perfect for one day; he learns to dance, quarrels with his arch-enemy Moody Margaret and goes on holiday. This is the first of the riotously funny stories of Henry and his little brother Peter.

Justin’s Jokes Justin’s Jokes
Justin Fletcher

What do whales eat? Fish and ships. What did the sea say to the boat? Nothing, it just waved. Join children's favourite TV star Justin Fletcher for the most giggle-tastic jokes ever. Your child will love reading out the punchlines!

Ug Ug
Raymond Briggs

Ug and his parents are living in the Stone Age. And that means stone blankets, stone cold food, an even colder cave and, worst of all, hard stone trousers! Being an inquisitive and intelligent child, Ug suggests a series of modifications to improve the quality of family life, only to find that there are some obstacles even a boy genius can't overcome.

Mr Majeika Mr Majeika
Humphrey Carpenter

Mr Majeika can behave just like any ordinary teacher if he wants to, but something has to be done about Hamish Bigmore, the class nuisance, and so he uses a little magic to turn him into a frog. With Mr Majeika in charge, suddenly life at school become much more exciting…!

You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum
Andy Stanton

Mr Gum is a truly nasty old man. He's absolutely grimsters. But this book is not just about him. There is also a little girl called Polly, an evil butcher, heroes and sweets and stuff, and Jake the dog, who must be saved from terrible, terrible evil.

Age 7 to 11

World’s Fastest Cars World’s Fastest Cars
Richard Dredge

This pocket manual charts the history of fast cars, from standard production models to highly modified cars, racing cars, drag racers and land-speed-record breakers, whether powered by piston, electric or jet engine.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants The Adventures of Captain Underpants
Dav Pilkey

When naughty George and Harold hypnotise their headteacher, they accidentally create the greatest superhero in the history of their school - Captain Underpants! If you're a naughty villain like the diabolical Dr Diaper, watch out: Captain Underpants has wedgie-power on his side, and he's coming your way!

Danny the Champion of the World Danny the Champion of the World
Roald Dahl

Danny feels very lucky. He adores his life with his father, living in a gypsy caravan, listening to his stories, tending their gas station, and occasionally taking off to fly home-built gas balloons and kites. But can Danny and his father outwit their greedy, rich neighbour, Mr Victor Hazell?

Asterix at the Olympic Games Asterix at the Olympic Games
Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

Gaul was divided into three parts. No, four parts - for one small village of indomitable Gauls still held out against the Roman invaders. The famous Olympic Games are to be held in Athens - and Asterix, Obelix and their friends enter. The competition will be formidable but our heroes are determined they will find a way to win.

Freaky Fish Freaky Fish
Lynn Huggins-Cooper

Part of the Awesome Animals series, this book delves into the depths to discover weird and wonderful fish including vicious vampires and peculiar predators. Also including craft instructions; for example learn how to make your very own shoal.

War Horse War Horse
Michael Morpurgo

In 1914, Joey, a young farm horse, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges towards the enemy, witnessing the horror of the frontline. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him.

World Class (Jamie Johnson) World Class (Jamie Johnson)
Dan Freedman

It's the big one! The World Cup Finals beckon for Jamie Johnson but first he must answer a huge question: Which country will he play for? With trademark jaw-dropping footy action, this is the fifth book in the Jamie Johnson series.

Three Cheers for Inventors Three Cheers for Inventors
Marcia Williams

Dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci, this book is packed with cartoon-strip illustrations and short biographies. It looks at the discoveries of many famous - and not so famous - inventors from around the world, including Leonardo da Vinci, Antonio Meucci, Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird, Thomas Edison, James Watt and many of their predecessors.

Stig of the Dump Stig of the Dump
Marcia Williams

Dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci, this book is packed with cartoon-strip illustrations and short biographies. It looks at the discoveries of many famous - and not so famous - inventors from around the world, including Leonardo da Vinci, Antonio Meucci, Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird, Thomas Edison, James Watt and many of their predecessors.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jeff Kinney

The hilarious series has been a publishing phenomenon. Following middle-schooler Greg’s struggles at school and at home in a comic-strip/text hybrid format, the series has topped bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic and the first two books have already been turned into successful films.

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