We looove to read over here — I post a lot of our favorites in #boymombookrecs on Instagram. But books can be a tricky thing. I totally believe a good book can be gender-neutral and appeal to both girls and boys, no matter the plot or characters. However, as a mom of 3 boys, I have also noticed that some books DEFINITELY appeal to boys more than others — and when you’re trying to get an active boy to slow down enough to dive into a book, you want something that’s going to hold his attention.
So, here are 40 tried-and-true books approved by the boys in this house. Most have been featured on my @boymoms_unite account, but there are a few new ones too — plus, each one has a quick & easy link so you can order it asap. (They’re affiliate links but I haven’t been required to share these — we just honestly love them!) These books are good for any kid, of course, but I think your boys will especially love them.
Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope by Jack and Holman Wang — These cute board books are perfect for Star Wars fans learning to read (or their brothers). Each page illustrates an iconic scene from Star Wars using spun wool (❗️) and a corresponding sight word. There’s also The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, naturally.
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell — I’ve easily read this classic lift-the-flap board book 100 times. It’s a favorite of my toddler, but it’s a fun quick read and you can make lots of animal sounds while reading.
B is for Bear by Roger Priddy — This book was the first baby gift I received when pregnant with my first, and it has been well-loved ever since. It’s everything you want in a board book: simple rhymes, lots of textures, and big clear photos to draw babies’ attention.
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 — A kid-friendly look at the first visit to the moon. Vivid details, well-written, beautiful illustrations. A must for any boys who love astronauts!
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick — This is the true story of Winnie the Pooh! A soldier rescued a bear cub during World War 1 and the rest is history. The author is that soldier’s great-granddaughter.
If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen — A fun story about an imaginative boy who designs a wild & crazy dream car. This one definitely inspires creativity and critical thinking — my boys loved the book and designed their own cars as soon as we finished it.
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin — This hilarious picture book is major favorite at our house, and I promise you’ll want a taco (or a dragon) when you’re done. We also love Those Darn Squirrels! and Robo-Sauce by the same author/illustrator team.
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown — All the books by this author have really cool illustrations and a deeper message about kindness and friendship. This one is especially funny — but we also like The Curious Garden and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.
King Baby by Kate Beaton — This picture book is a hilarious read if you've got a new baby coming to your family. My big boys still love to refer to their little brother as "King Baby."
The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy by David Soman & Jacky Davis — This sweet picture book about two brothers trying to get along is a must-have for families with multiple boys. So much to relate to!
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn — Such a sweet story & beautiful illustrations, with a message that helps both children AND adults feel better about saying goodbye. I cried the first time we read it (probably because it was also the first week of kindergarten).
Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr. — This is an oldie but it’s a favorite in our house! My boys LOVE to have me read this one, especially if we do funny voices for all the dialogue. And don’t forget the two sequels, Miss Nelson is Back and Miss Nelson Has a Field Day!
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt — This is hands-down one of my favorite childrens books of the past few years. It’s hilarious! A boy named Duncan opens his crayon box to find letters from all the crayons he’s left behind, and my boys & I crack up every time we read them.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt — From the same author of the Crayons books — this book is a clever and funny take on the classic game of (you guessed it) Rock, Paper, Scissors.
The Stink Series by Megan McDonald — These books are perfect for boys getting started in chapter books. They're funny, quick reads filled with illustrations, comics and fun facts -- the author (who also wrote the Judy Moody series) nails it when describing the life & interests of a second grade boy.
The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne — These books follow a brother-sister duo, Annie & Jack, on one adventure after another. They were the first chapter books my oldest boy read, and there are 50+ books in the series so they’ll keep you busy for a while. (We love Pirates Past Noon and Abe Lincoln at Last!)
Who Was series by various authors — Different historical figures are detailed in this series, which is surprisingly in-depth yet easy to read. They’ll have your boys spouting off all sorts of cool history facts, too. There are a ton of books (plus Who Is…?, Where Is…? and What Is…? books) but we especially like Who Was Walt Disney?, Who Was Abraham Lincoln?, and Who Was Neil Armstrong?
The I Survived… series by Lauren Tarshis — Each book in this 20+ book series is set in a real-life historic (and suspenseful) event: Hurricane Katrina, the great Chicago fire, Mount St. Helens, etc. There’s lots of action but the books cover even cringe-worthy history (Nazis, 9/11) in a kid-friendly way, & usually teach a few values along the way.
Chapter Books & Read Alouds
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary — This is Beverly Cleary’s first novel, which spawned a whole neighborhood of Henry, Beezus and Ramona the Pest. These books are a bit old-fashioned but in a good way — they’re also captivating, boy-friendly adventures with good characters at heart. Try them on audiobook too!
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown — This was Peter Brown’s first chapter book and my oldest boy LOVES it. Good for early elementary readers with great illustrations sprinkled throughout. Don’t miss the sequel: The Wild Robot Escapes.
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey — You probably know Dav Pilkey as the author of the Captain Underpants series, but I definitely like this series better (less potty humor, better storyline). I know graphic novels can be controversial but I personally think they can be a great gateway to learning to love reading. Grab the rest of the series too — book #6 comes out Christmas Eve!
Wonder by R.J. Palacio — I read this book aloud to my oldest this summer, and it instigated some really sweet conversations about kindness, popularity, friendship and more. A good read for grown-ups too.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl — If you've got a preschooler who's getting ready for read-aloud chapter books, this is a PERFECT one to start with. Short chapters, lots of candy, and a good, kind role model in little Charlie Bucket.
A Mother and Her Son: A Shareable Journal by Kara Lewis — I’ve talked about this lots on IG, but this is a journal you pass back & forth with your boy! It’s got lots of fun prompts to get you both thinking & writing. Better for ages 8+.