These days, boys who are just getting into early reader chapter books have lots to choose from. It’s never too soon to look for the fine children’s book authors who write for our young readers with sensitivity and care. We’ve listed some of our favorite books with boys at the center by well-known and respected authors–books we can recommend with pleasure to the boys we know. (Girls will love them, too!)
Greg’s Microscope by Millicent Selsam and Arnold Lobel
A terrific book for any budding scientist. As Greg begins to look at everyday items like salt, hair, and thread under his microscope, readers get ideas about a whole new world that’s waiting to be explored. Even without a microscope, it’s a good read. I love it that Greg and his friends investigate together, enjoying each others’ company as well as their discoveries. Obviously, not just for boys, but for any young reader with an inquisitive mind. Of course, it’s a wonderful companion to a first microscope.
Daniel’s Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla
Clyde Robert Bulla is one of those amazing authors for young children who can write with grace and skill–and simple words that early readers can handle on their own. In this case, the story is set over a hundred years ago in Tennessee, where young Daniel wants to carve a duck and bring it to the fair. Despite what others see as a clumsy attempt, Daniel is encouraged by a moving conversation with a famous woodcarver. A terrific gift for a young artists!
Hill of Fire by Thomas Lewis
A wonderful introduction to historical fiction for early readers, Hill of Fire is based on true historical accounts of the 1943 eruption of the Paricutin volcano in Mexico. One day while Pablo and his father are preparing the oxen to plow the fields on their small farm, the volcano begins to erupt right in the middle of their cornfield! The village becomes covered with lava and rock, forcing the villagers to relocate to another village. From there, they watch as the volcano–now called El Monstruo–continues to smolder. The audio CD is a particularly nice companion piece.
Chang’s Paper Pony by Eleanor Coerr
Chang and his Grandpa Li have come from China to live in America, and now work in the Gold Ditch Hotel in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. This easy-reader story doesn’t ignore the hardships of the Chinese immigrants during this time period, showing the way young Chang suffers indignities from the miners and from other children. Instead of the real pony he desperately wants, Chang instead gazes longingly at the paper pony his Grandpa tacks above their stove. While sweeping the floor of a miner, Chang finds gold dust and is able to use some of the money to buy the pony he has so longed for. This is a well-written and respectful story and another wonderful introduction to the genre of historical fiction for beginning readers.
Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sucie Stevenson
Newbery Award-winner Cynthia Rylant brings her considerable talents to audiences of young readers in the Henry and Mudge series. There are more than twenty books in this series to date, and each one is a well-told tale, loved by her many young fans. This is the first of the series, the one that introduces us to Henry, a lonely little boy who asks for a dog to be his friend. Tiny little puppy Mudge soon grows to be a 180-pound dog, and the co-hero of the series. The illustrations are a big factor in the success of these stories; they’re bright and colorful and accurately show a real-life dog enjoying the world with his young friend. You’ll want to dig into their on-going adventures!
The Best Seat in Second Grade by Katharine Kenah
A funny and off-beat little tale about Sam, a second-grader, who clearly has the best seat in his classroom-right next to the cage of the class hamster, George Washington. Because of his special bond with his furry little friend, Sam can’t resist bringing him along on the class trip, and as the reader can imagine, trouble follows. The illustrations add to the gentle fun of the book. It’s a cross between an humorous adventure–and a detective story–for early readers. Check it out!