What are the best books for middle school boys? How do you know what books are considered ideal for a pre-teen?
Entering into the age of pre-teen status for a boy is a big transition and is an equally big transition for their moms who struggle to see our sons going from our little babies to turning more and more into independent adults every day.
Reading is valuable at every age but as boys enter the teenage years it can become a struggle to find books that they will want to read as well as will engage with and enjoy reading.
Series are especially popular among this age group and are an excellent way to build a love of reading. Many people have conflicting opinions about allowing kids to get wrapped up in a book series, but for me personally, I feel like whatever draws a child to read is great!
And having your child read a variety of different series of books by different authors still provides a nice variety of writing styles and perspectives as well as the ability for the reader to connect with those characters on that deeper level that enjoying a book series allows.
Since my own son is an 11-year-old preteen boy who just entered middle school I asked him to write up a round-up of his favorite reads and ones that he recommends for fellow tween boys and teen boys as well!
This is also not to say that girls won’t enjoy these series as well – I do not yet have a preteen girl but my eight year old daughter is OBSESSED with Harry Potter and my 6 year old daughter loves reading many of her older brother’s graphic novels with him like Dog Man and enjoys having him read Diary of a Wimpy Kid aloud to her.
We hope this list helps readers to find the best books to create a reader in your middle school aged son and teach them that chapter books don’t have to be intimidating 😉
Disclaimer: As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
How To Encourage a Love for Reading
While a list of books is super helpful… it doesn’t do much good to know WHAT your child could be reading without actually having them WANTING to read!
Having a love of reading is not something a child is naturally born with. My oldest son does LOVE to read and I do think it’s something about his natural personality that draws him to reading.
However, I also have a daughter who never liked to read. I had to encourage her and build up that desire to read and now she’s like her older brother and will ask each night when I tuck her in “how long can I read?” and she has found true enjoyment in books.
To encourage reading in our home I have a daily rest time/reading time for my children as soon as they start dropping their afternoon nap. Every day that we’re home (summertime/weekends anytime they aren’t at school) ALL of my kids have an hour of rest time in their beds.
They are not allowed to leave the bed. Not allowed to play with toys. Not allowed to be together in any way. This hour is set aside for REST. They may choose to either SLEEP or READ during this time.
As most any kid will tell you… they do NOT typically WANT to sleep 😉 Reading becomes a magical escape from a nap and one they appreciate and want to take part in as it’s much preferred to the alternative.
I also have early bedtimes for my children with the consideration of allowing for reading time before they actually need to be sleeping. When I set up their schedules I leave that buffer of time to allow for reading. I present it to them like “it’s lights out at THIS time but you may stay up an extra 20 minutes IF you use it to read.”
Presenting reading as a privilege and a fun “bonus time” activity makes it desirable and enjoyable to my kids as soon as they start reading on their own. Of course, we read together at bedtime and throughout the day when they are young but their true love for reading really gets established once they have the ability to read independently.
And that daughter who was hesitant to love to read? I made a simple sticker chart for her to encourage her to read and the more she read, the sooner her chart was filled and the more and more she enjoyed the reading process. She received a sticker for each night that she read for at least 20 minutes.
We did a small prize once she filled her reading chart and the challenge motivated her to read and having a month or so of that chart created a habit and routine for her that continued even when a prize stopped being offered and the sticker chart was long taken down.
Ways to Save Money on Books for Middle School Boys
Having children who love to read is awesome but, whew, it’s also EXPENSIVE.
I encourage my children to utilize their school library during the school year and we also check books out from our local library over the summer months as this helps to keep costs down on books.
For my oldest child, we purchased an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. We have owned Kindle Fires and used them as an e-reader and have also used the Kindle App to read on iPads and nothing comes close to comparing to the actual Paperwhite.
The Paperwhite is a large upfront cost but it quickly saves so much money as being a Prime Member offers many Kindle reads for FREE each month! Paperwhites frequently go on sale as well and are always part of a Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal so they make a great Christmas gift.
We actually bought one for our son first and then took the plunge and both my husband and I switched over to them too. It is a GAME CHANGER when it comes to reading! I like to lay out while I read and the new Paperwhite is water proof so I can read in the pool without stressing. We LOVE them and cannot recommend it enough!
Come Hang With Our Fam and Keep Up With Our Adventures:
The Best Books for Pre-Teen Boys
My son, Kye, is a current middle schooler in 6th grade and has helped me in creating this list of recommended reading for the tween and preteen age group for boys.
Hopefully, his first-hand recommendations and reviews can be helpful when deciding what books boys love at this age and which are worthwhile for your middle school-aged son. (And don’t forget, many of these reads will be fantastic for girls as well!)
Individual Books for Middle School Boys
My son is mostly into reading book series but has enjoyed some individual reads as well. Here are his favorites.
The Wind in the Willows
By Kenneth Grahame
Kye Review: The Wind in the Willows is a great classic, for all ages. If you like talking animals this is probably a book for you! Parents you probably have read this book before in your childhood, if you liked this book your kid might like it too! Hope you like Wind of the Willows!
By R. J. Palacio
Kye Review: This book is a great book, it’s even a movie! Really, guys, it’s a great book, I think there are more now so if you liked this book (or the movie) check out those too. This really shows that some people are having a harder time than you are and that it’s ok to be different. I hope you like it, I personally think it’s a great read and helped to make going to a new school a little less stressful.
Mom Note: We read this book for my book club first and I really felt it’d be a worthwhile read for Kye as well. It helps to not only discourage bullying but also encourages uniqueness and being a good friend to others. I do recommend watching the movie along with your child as there are a few scenes that may need additional discussions. We all cried when watching it!
By Gordon Korman
Kye Review: This is an awesome book! It really should be at the top of your reading list! It really shows how much you can change in your life, from being a jerk to a nice person. I recommend this for adults too. It really is a great book, I hope you read it!
Mom Note: I had a friend tell me her son considers this his all-time favorite book so I downloaded it for Kye to read. It is similar to Wonder in it’s messaging but told from a very different perspective. Rather than a story about a child who is bullied, it’s about a bully whose tables turn and becomes the victim of bullying himself. A great perspective for kids to read.
By Austin Kennedy
Kye Review: This is one awesome book! It has a great mix of action, adventure, and a little bit of mystery. It’s sure to keep you on your toes until the end of the book. I personally couldn’t put it down! It also has a good mix of characters and the characters have a lot of different traits that you can relate to or learn from. I HIGHLY recommend this book for you or your child. Austin Kennedy keeps the story interesting and you will never get bored with this book. I say this from my heart folks, this book is AWESOME!!! Please, if you are looking for a good read then get this book.
Pie in the Sky
By Remy Lai
Kye Review: This book can be emotional, I liked it personally. Though it really shows that some people are having a really hard time in their lives. I think it can be turned into the lesson of focusing on other things than the bad when you’re having a hard time, otherwise, it can lead to consequences.
By Lois Lowry
Mom Note: The Giver is one of my all-time favorite books. I see it recommended for young adults on a regular basis but I’ve held off on having my son read it yet. It is deep and often dark in its content and I don’t know that I am quite ready to have something so heavy be read by him. I do HIGHLY recommend the book as one to read together so those darker parts can be discussed as they arise.
The Giver IS part of a series but I’ve never read beyond the first one so I put it in the individual book category 😉 It was also made into a movie and I’ve heard it’s terrible so I don’t want to ruin my perfect view of this book by watching an awful movie version of it.
The One and Only Ivan
By Katherine Applegate
Kye Note: Mom believes that this story is awesome, but really it didn’t make it to top 20. There isn’t enough action to be interested in it. Although if you like depressing, but also at the same time heart warming stories this might be the book for you!
Mom Note: I have heard fabulous things about this book so I’ve added it to Kye’s reading list but he has not yet read it. I’ve also had many people recommend it to me to watch as a family on Disney + so I’m excited for him to read the book prior to us watching the movie version together.
Series of Books for Middle School Boys
As mentioned earlier, as a parent I love that my son loves book series. Who doesn’t love a good series? I remember being so wrapped up in Twilight and all of the characters that I had a moment of grief when they ended and there were no more details about their lives beyond where the last book ended.
Here are some of Kye’s favorite series so far, ones he loves and ones my girls love too:
By Dav Pilkey
Kye Review: If you like the Dave Pilkey series captain underpants or diaper baby, you will like this. To me it’s a better version of Captain Underpants, it’s even by the same author! It has good and evil characters, and of course includes tons of humor! I hope you “dig” this book! (Don’t you get it? A dog digs, oh forget it!)
Mom Note: As previously mentioned in this post, this graphic novel is a great sibling bonding experience as my son enjoys reading this to his younger siblings on a regular basis. Middle grade boys love some potty humor and these style of books tend to have plenty of it but that’s part of the fun and keeps some of the silliness around as they get more “serious” in their teenage years.
Since Kye is such an avid reader, we’ve found that some series are worth owning the physical book copy of rather than just downloading on his Kindle Paperwhite – this is one of those must-own collections.
By J.K. Rowling
Kye Review: I’m sure all of you have heard of Harry Potter if you haven’t already seen the movies. It’s still a great series, even though my sister ruins all the fun because she’s a Harry Potter geek. You can always read the books then you can watch movies.
I mean who doesn’t watch the movies? Grownups you may want to read this too it’s always a great option for reading, and it will keep you or your child a long time to read. This makes sure you don’t run out of books soon unless they run away from you. Then that’s a problem!
Mom Note: My original hope was to save these books for my kids to each start reading when they turned 11 since that’s when the series begins. I myself have never read them (GASP!) but when Universal reached out to host our family at their theme parks we rushed to read them as quickly as we could so the kids could enjoy the experience at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
I fully anticipated Kye LOVING these books. However, it ended up being Britt (our 7-year-old at the time) who became full-on obsessed with all things Harry Potter. She still (almost age 9) listens to the audiobooks on repeat and is working her way through the illustrated books as well.
The books and movies do progressively get older as the characters age and they also get darker and scarier too for younger viewers. Our five year old did watch all of the movies with us and did FINE with them and loves Harry Potter too!
It’s definitely a family movie-watching experience as it’s best to be there to give a snuggle during scarier scenes and help talk through tougher moments.
As a parent I do love the good vs evil storyline as a way to discuss our own personal battle against Sin and Satan. I know many Christians have issue with the magical elements to the stories but we present it as fiction to our children and enjoy some make-believe ourselves and see nothing wrong with enjoying the stories!
Keeper of the Lost Cities
By Shannon Messenger
Kye Review: This is a similar idea and concept as Harry Potter, but with elves and that sort of thing. Plus I personally think it may be a little bit better than Harry Potter. (Probably because you know, my sister’s a Harry Potter geek.) I hope you get this, if you do then let us hope it doesn’t run away!
Mom Note: Kye steered away from Harry Potter when his younger sister got so into it and Keeper of the Lost Cities was recommended to me and he LOVES it and considers it much “cooler” than Harry Potter 😉
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
By Jeff Kinney
Kye Review: This may express a middle schooler’s life. Filled with humor and of course middle school. This series actually is based on what it was like in middle school for the author! If you like this I also suggest that you read the series below!
Mom Note: I have heard that other parents are not super fond of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series due to the potty humor. Potty humor has never personally bothered me. There have been a few instances where storylines or plots in the stories have encouraged Kye to come talk to me about some things (one of the books talks about an older teenager going through puberty and teases some of the body changes like voice deepening and acne).
Having open dialogue with our kids is so important and setting aside time daily to go over areas in their days where they may want to share or have questions is so valuable.
Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior
By Cube Kid
Kye Review: This is a series that is basically Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but way better. Filled with lots of action and adventures throughout Minecraft. If you have played Minecraft you may have a better understanding of stuff in the book.
Of course, this book is Minecraft-based and talks about a villager who wants to become a warrior, and he’s probably not prepared for what happens in the future… Dun Dun Dunnnun! Really guys, I highly suggest that you read this series and I hope you like it!
Mom Note: We are very particular about screen time and video games and what content we allow in our home. Minecraft has been wonderful for Kye. He LOVES it.
It has many educational aspects to it and it’s very, very appropriate in aligning with our values (not overly violent, no sexual content, he doesn’t have to play online etc). I love that they now have book series based on the game as it only adds to his enjoyment of it!
By Mark Cheverton
Kye Review: This is another Minecraft series, filled with action-adventure and more. As I said for the last one, if you have played Minecraft then you will probably understand the book better. If you have not played the game it will tell you about it in the first book to every series. (If not it’s the first book of the first series.) You probably figured out that there is more than one series to the first series. They feature the same characters and everything they just are based on different problems. I hope you really like this series, it has lots of different books. So be sure to check them out!
Fudge Book Series
By Judy Blume
Kye Review: This series is full of humor and the annoyances from the main character’s little brother Fudge. This stars a 9-year-old boy who has to deal with his little brother Fudge constantly. If you have kids or younger siblings you know what that means! I hope that if you get these books you enjoy the humor concealed inside.
Mom Note: I have such great memories of reading Judy Blume books as a kid and I was so excited when Kye came home reading the books about Fudge. I was so glad to see that her storytelling is appreciated by young girls and boys alike!
The Chronicles of Narnia
By C.S. Lewis
Kye Review: This series is definitely one of the best classics of all time! It also really shows lot’s of Christian elements. I highly recommend this series and it really is a great series. I hope you check it out, now there are actually movies for the books. Be sure to check these books out and I hope you like them!
Mom Note: As a Christian parent I strive to raise my children in the Lord and LOVE how beautifully C.S. Lewis blends faith and storytelling together. A great book series to read together and fabulous movies to watch as a family as well.
By Eoin Colfer
Kye Review: This is another series that should be on the top of your reading list! It really has a great combination of magic, the real world today, and best of all the technology in the story. Now they have come out with a show on Disney Plus. If you read the books you can watch the show! That’s like the movies I mean who doesn’t watch the shows?
Mom Note: To answer Kye’s question…Kye. Kye doesn’t watch the shows haha We have not yet watched Artemis Fowl on Disney + as I have heard not-so-great reviews of it!
By Brian Jacques
Kye Review: This is really an awesome series and consists of lot’s of books. So if your child or you read books pretty fast then this is a great series for you, because the books are long and the series is long. This series is full of action, adventure, and talking animals. (Who doesn’t love those?) If you read it I hope you like it!
Mom Note: I actually had a completely random stranger recommend these books for me and there are literally TONS of them. It’s been a great series for Kye to get into because they DO take him awhile to read and slow him down a bit from flying through books. For some reason though it is a tougher series to find available for download on Kindle!
The Hardy Boys
By Franklin W Dixon
Kye Review: This series is the only series that is a mystery series I have mentioned, and it’s a pretty good one to. It stars two boys that are sons of a private detective that is widely known. They go on several cases and get into countless perils! If you like mystery, and you like action then check out The Hardy Boys!
Mom Note: This was one of the very first series Kye was really, really “into.” My husband loved talking about the books with him as he’d also enjoyed them as a child. Kye first started reading them in second or third grade and has continued to enjoy them into middle school.
The Last Kids on Earth
By Max Bradllier
Kye Review: This for me made my imagination go wild. This is a series that has four friends that live in a zombie apocalypse and have to fight out of many situations. It’s a series full of action and can make your mind go crazy with all the inventions they come up with! I highly suggest this series, so I think you should be getting it!
By James Patterson
Kye Review: This is absolutely what the second word in the title says! If you like jokes and you like a good story, I suggest that you get this series immediately. I really liked this so just try it, and you’ll probably like it!
Mom Note: I think it’s straight GENIUS of such a well known, well loved adult author, James Patterson to gear books towards the middle school market. Middle Schoolers tend to struggle to know where they stand, in life and in reading material. And his books are perfectly geared towards this age group!
By Jeff Probst
Kye Review: This is also a really great book and can really make you think. This is about four kids who get stuck on a deserted island and they have a blended family so they need to learn to work together. This is all after their parents have their uncle to take them on a trip at sea. You can infer that there was a storm and it, never mind too much info. To know more just get the books!
Mom Note: I randomly discovered these books when searching for a new series for Kye to start reading. We let him watch a few episodes of Survivor with my husband and I and he really enjoyed it and I do think it’s a family-friendly show, for the most part, and would like to include him in watching it with us in the future. These series of books are written for the middle school grades and are centered around similar ideas and concepts to the Survivor franchise.
By Rick Riordan
Kye Review: Percy Jackson is one of those series about greek mythology. It really is a great series and I suggest you read it! This series is full of lots of action and fighting if you like those like me, then get the series! The main character is of course Percy Jackson as you all should know. Make sure you read this series before reading the series below so you can understand the series below better. And if you do get this if you liked it I would suggest the series below so make sure you get it!
The Heroes of Olympus
By Rick Riordan
Kye Review: This is more greek mythology and is basically Percy Jackson with different characters and better. It even has the character Percy Jackson in some of the stories! So if you liked Percy Jackson then I would definitely get this series!
The Eragon Series
By Christopher Paolini
Mom Note: I cannot for the life of me get Kye to read these books! I purchased them after hearing TONS of recommendations for them. I think the SIZE of the books may be intimidating as they are huge and super long. It took me a while to convince him to read Redwall too and then he LOVED it so I feel like the same may be true of Eragon. I was hoping he’d jump into them because they are long and would help delay me having to buy him more books 😉
By: Rick Riordan
Kye Review: This is a cool series full of exiting twists and turns in the plot. Combining mystery and a fight for survival, as 39 Clues leads you across the world. This is probably my favorite book series this summer of 2021. Follow Dan and Amy through the entire series of 39 clues. (As far as I know I haven’t read them all yet!) (Don’t judge it’s a big series.)
By: Brandon Mull and Brandon Dorman
Kye Note: Not one of my top suggestions but is a great series of fantasy and magic! (As far as I’ve gotten.) Also in some of the books mystery is added to the mix!
Candy Shop Wars
By: Brandon Mull and R.C. Bray
Kye Note: Two great books I’m positive are within my top ten! These books bring magic and adventure to the table. Both stories have three middle aged kids trying to save the world! If you can get these books while you can!
By: Jeff Smith
Kye Note: These books are really cool combining action and adventure with comedy. I don’t suggest that you read the first book by itself, that’s why the link below will have all the stories in one book. I’ve personally read this book/series several times over.
By: Richard Paul Evans
Kye Note: I love these books! They have lots of action and adventure fighting off the evil Elgen! I have read the series over several times and definitely think it deserves a place in the top five!
The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
Mom Note: My husband and I both LOVED reading The Hunger Games when it first came out and have enjoyed watching the movies together as well. However, I am shocked that this is so frequently recommended for middle schoolers.
First, the whole storyline of the book is based on killing. Not just killing, but killing innocent people. Personally I have different feelings regarding violence. I don’t love my children being exposed to it in any form but know it’s inevitable in the entertainment world. So I prefer stories that depict good vs evil and this book is innocent children being forced to murder each other.
Second, the whole concept is very dark and there is also a large focus on love and romantic feelings and sexuality as well.
At some point my children will be allowed to read it, but I am no where near ready for my middle school son to read The Hunger Games or see any of the films.
Final Thoughts on The Best Books for Middle School Boys
We’ve just entered the world of middle school with Kye but he has always read at an advanced reading level. It can be very difficult to navigate as a parent and I’m thankful for wiser women I can look to for guidance when it comes to age-appropriate reading content for my children.
I hope that these suggestions will also be helpful to others and that Kye’s reviews of some of his favorite books will lead to other pre-teen boys embracing a love for reading as well.
We will continue to update this post with additional favorites. Want an easy way to keep track of the best books for middle school boys? Be sure to check out our Amazon List of Best Books for Pre-Teen Boys here!