7 great read aloud novels for little boys

First graders at our boys' school came home last fall with a reading log and a simple directive: Read books, write down the titles, get points. So all of a sudden, reading became a COMPETITION and our eldest son said YES PLEASE. So Sean's nightly storytime with the boys morphed from picture books to novels because "I can get a lot more points for a chapter book." Yessirrrr.

So we tried Charlotte's Web, and ehhh... the boys just weren't too captured by it. But I know! It's Charlotte's Web! To which I say, I guess, they're boys. I wanted to find them books they'd look forward to listening to. This is a list of our successes, and I'm linking it up with 7 quick takes at This Ain't the Lyceum.

1. Frindle
Cute little book, weird name! Fifth-grader Nicholas has a burning question for his battleaxe of an English teacher, Mrs. Granger: How do words get their meaning? Who decides? While reading this I admit to being skeptical of its message--part of the plot hinges on students being willfully disobedient (though not rudely so) to school administrators. But a great twist at the end puts all that in perspective. Both boys enjoyed it though my 7 year old "got" it more.

2. The Mysterious Benedict Society
THE BEST. Especially the best if you've got a bit of an adorably nerdy boy, as I do. Four gifted children are selected through a series of tremendous tests to topple an unseen evil empire that's subtly influencing the nation.

That sounds heavy handed--I promise, it's not. I laugh at least two times on every page. Additionally, it's a true pleasure to read this one out loud (which isn't the case for every novel, even the good ones, I think). Bonus: It's the first in a five-book series.

3. A Wrinkle in Time
To answer the burning question: No, heck no, we will not be seeing the Oprah movie adaptation. I shudder at the thought. Madeline L'Engle was my favorite childhood author and I spent my summers reading Meet the Austins and Troubling a Star and A Ring of Endless Light.

But I first read every single book in the Wrinkle in Time series, envisioning how I would block out the pulse of IT if I were on Camatoz rescuing my father. Wonderful family themes of loyalty, the love of parents, and the bond of siblings.

4. The Hobbit
We finished reading The Hobbit to the boys months ago but Joseph still comes up to me and says "Want to hear a riddle, my precious?" Such a classic for young boys, and a great introduction to young readers/listeners to the world of Tolkein.

5. Redwall
War! Battle! RATS! Redwall Abbey stands as sanctuary for mouse, vole and hedgehog alike, but rat Cluney and his army of miscreants wants to eradicate the peace and take Redwall for their own. I confess to not know a whole lot about this one as Sean's done all the reading of it to the boys, but I do know two things:
- it's pretty long
- Sean has to water down/skim some passages about rat-on-mouse violence that can get a little bloody and morbidly descriptive. But still, lots of tense action and general boy amusement.

6.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
I know, I know, I'm not exactly breaking new ground here in the "great read alouds!" category. But nonetheless, it stands as a read aloud that both boys genuinely enjoyed, and led to wonderful conversations about Jesus, Aslan, and sacrificial love.

Plus, battles. Always the battles.

7. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
The 1963 classic! Each chapter can be read a stand-alone mystery that Encyclopedia solves with his ingenuity--and good listening skills. My 5 year old especially loves it and likes that he doesn't have to follow along with an intricate plot each night.

Sean just started the second Mysterious Benedict Society (And The Perilous Journey) with the boys, but we need to get a few more books lined up. I'd love to hear which books your own boys (or kids) loved hearing!

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