by Allison Tait
As kids head to ‘school’ at desks and dining tables around the world, it is recommended that parents try not worry too much about content and time. Even here in NSW, where it looks like there might be a staggered start to face-to-face learning, the majority of term time will still be at home. In my last post, ‘When Schooling Comes Home’, I mentioned that your teen’s school-at-home day is going to be a lot shorter than the usual 6 hour school day. If you and your teen are struggling a little, educators recommend focussing on the basics – maths and literacy.
My son’s teacher recommends 20 mins of free reading time, as part of his online ‘curriculum’ each day. During this time my tween curls up on the couch with the latest of whatever book series he is reading.
I am always trying to find book recommendations for boys. So I thought I’d call on an expert on this topic. Allison Tait is an internationally published bestselling author of middle-grade adventure series books. She is also the mother of boys. Here she gives us 30 books for boys aged 13, 14 and 15.
The Most Common Question about Boys and Reading
One of the biggest challenges facing parents of tween and teen boys is how to keep them reading. How do I know this? Because they tell me.
As the co-admin (with authors Megan Daley and Allison Rushby) of the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group, a community with 11,000+ members – and counting – I am privy to the daily updates and queries of parents, carers, teachers, booksellers and various other participants.
And the ‘my son, aged 13, has stopped reading’ or ‘my son, aged 15, has lost all interest in books’ variety of question is among our most popular.
I also know because the number one search query that brings visitors to my own website (allisontait.com) is ‘great books for 13-year-old boys’ or its cousin ‘great books for 14-year-old boys’.
So clearly there are lots of parents out there looking for great books for their tween and teen readers.
I’m also mother to two boys – now aged 16 and 13 – so I have seen firsthand what happens when books have to compete with sport/school/screens/girls for time.
My boys are very different readers
The older one (aka Book Boy) has been a voracious reader since he could first make his way from one sentence to another. He even ran his own book review blog (bookboy.com.au) for four years. But he’s in year 11 now and the volume of schoolwork plus a budding career as a singer/songwriter has slowed him down a tad.
The younger one (Book Boy Jr) would much rather run. But he still reads. We worked hard to instigate a reading habit with him – 20 minutes in bed each night (pretty much the only time he is quiet) – and it continues to pay off.
He starts a lot of books and only finishes the ones that really grab his attention, and that’s okay. (As an author, I take particular note of those books and read them myself!)
So, I guess what I’m saying is that I feel your pain.
The Key to Breakthrough
What I’ve discovered, though, is that the key to breaking through the ‘reading ennui’ of this age is finding the right book – and that you might be very surprised by what that right book is!
Don’t Rule out Books
I nearly fell over when Book Boy Jr brought home an entire novel written in verse. I would never have considered giving him a book like that, but he saw it in the school library (kids need school libraries, just saying) during Quiet Reading Time, picked it up and liked it so much he brought it home and devoured it.
(In case you were wondering, it was The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, it’s all about basketball, and he loved it.)
Don’t discount a book because it has a female main character, or because it’s written by a woman, or because it’s not the type of book your young reader has ever read before.
As Book Boy wrote in his contribution to Megan Daley’s wonderful book Raising Readers: How To Nurture A Child’s Love Of Books:
“I read books that are ‘for girls’ or aimed at girls (or books with girl protagonists) because a good book is a good book, no matter who the target audience is.”
Anyway, I’ve found that the best way to find books for boys in this age group is to ask other boys in this age group for recommendations.
So here are 30 books, tried-and-tested by boy readers this age
Books for 13-year-old boys
Books for 14-year-old boys
Books for 15-year-old boys
Happy reading boys!