Books for Boys Who Hate to Read

Many boys hate reading.

Parents know it. Teachers know it. Finding books that keeps them flipping pages is a challenge.

Below you’ll find 40 titles we recommend over and over again. Funny books. Scary books. Mysterious books. Adventurous books. Books by writers like Lois Duncan, Neil Gaiman, Kwame Alexander, Stephen King, Caroline B. Cooney and Jack Gantos.

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Funny Books for Boys

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Pages: 384
Reading Level: 5.7
Goodreads Rating: 3.72

Fictional Jack Gantos finds himself in for a wild time as he befriends an elderly woman who needs his help typing obituaries for the local paper. The obits are stacking up, and there may be a murderer on the loose.

My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner

Pages: 272
Reading Level: 4.4
Goodreads Rating: 4.16

Ben Hadley accidentally causes the school mascot to sprain an ankle. Now to make amends he must don the school’s Spud suit for the final basketball games of the year. But he doesn’t want anyone to know about his new gig.

The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider

Pages: 336
Goodreads Rating: 3.93
Read Our Review / Read Our Interview With Mary Winn Heider

Fovea Munson just wants a normal life. Unfortunately, she’s working at a cadaver lab run by her parents. Which would be bad enough, but what’s worse: there are three decapitated heads in the lab. And they’re talking.

Ben Yokoyama & the Cookie of Doom by Matthew Swanson & Robbi Behr

Pages: 304
Goodreads Rating: 4.07
Read Our Review

Ben Yokoyama decides to try and live his life by the wisdom found in fortune cookies. Easier said than done. His life is turned upside down as he discovers fortune-cookie wisdom isn’t quite as easily applicable as it seems.

Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

Pages: 265
Reading Level: 4.4
Goodreads Rating: 4.08

A run-in with the law results in Alex being stuck with community service at the local senior center where he finds Solomon Lewis, a snarky old man who hasn’t yet lost his verve for life. And he has plenty of advice for Alex.

Strangeville School is Totally Normal by Darcy Miller

Pages: 256
Goodreads Rating: 4.01
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Strangeville School is anything but normal. There are alligators in the hallways, and a cougar stalking students. The nurse wants to saw your arm off to cure you, and there’s a utility closet that disappears. That’s just for starters.

Horror Books for Boys

We Bury the Living by Tyler Miller

Pages: 191
Goodreads Rating: 4.5
Read Our Review

Finn and Jamie are sent to spend the summer with relatives they’ve never met. Relatives who live next to a graveyard. And run a funeral home. And sleep in coffins…

The Smashed Man of Dread End by JW Ocker

Pages: 304
Goodreads Rating: 3.86
Read Our Review / Read Our Interview With JW Ocker

Noe Wiley and her family have moved to a new house in a strange neighborhood. She tries to make friends, but the girls in the neighborhood aren’t very friendly. And they tell her to never go into her basement at night.

The Goolz Next Door by Gary Ghislain

Pages: 160
Goodreads Rating: 3.92
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Harold Bell lives a normal life until the Goolz move in next door. There’s beautiful Ilona, her younger sister Suzie, and Frank Goolz, the world-famous horror writer, who is on the hunt for a very dangerous ghost.

The Vault of Horror by EC Comics

Pages: 216
Reading Level: NA
Goodreads Rating: 4.33

In recent years EC Comics has unlocked its vast archives and collected hundreds of its old publications in fabulous new editions: Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, Shock, and Tales From the Crypt.

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman

Pages: 208
Reading Level: 5.0
Goodreads Rating: 3.92

16 year old Blake and his brother Quinn are opposites. Blake is responsible, Quinn is a fearless thrill-seeker. Can Blake save his brother when he is trapped by a bizarre phantom carnival?

Shrinking Man Graphic Novel by Richard Matheson

Pages: 104
Reading Level: NA
Goodreads Rating: 3.2

Scott Carey is getting smaller every day, shrinking and shrinking. Until he’s smaller than a child. Smaller than a cat. Smaller than a common house spider. Can he survive?

Mystery & Thriller Books for Boys

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

Pages: 272
Reading Level: 4.8
Goodreads Rating: 3.63

A group of teenagers decide to pull a mean-spirited prank on their least favorite teacher, Mr. Griffin. But Mr. Griffin dies, and the teens suddenly find themselves as murderers in need of hiding a body.

Uncaged by John Sandford & Michelle Cook

Pages: 416
Reading Level: 6.1
Goodreads Rating: 3.87

Shay arrives in Hollywood with $58 and a handmade knife, searching for her hacker brother, Odin. He claimed he had evidence of unspeakable experiments & a ruthless corporation. Can she save her brother?

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall

Pages: 185
Reading Level: 4.8
Goodreads Rating: 3.94

Nazi planes rain bombs on England every night. In Garmouth, every boy collects shrapnel & souvenirs. None compare to Chas McGill, who discovers a machine gun in a downed bomber and intends to fight the Germans himself.

5 Minute Mysteries by Ken Weber

Pages: 198
Reading Level: NA
Goodreads Rating: 3.16

Thirty-seven cases of murder and mayhem you can solve in under five minutes! The first book in an ongoing series that includes More 5 Minute Mysteries, Further 5 Minute Mysteries, and more.

Cave-In by Joseph Monninger

Pages: 208
Goodreads Rating: 3.72
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A group of teenagers come to an abandoned island over a holiday weekend on a class field trip. But an earthquake traps them inside a crumbling Civil War fort, and the countdown to survival begins.

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

Pages: 192
Reading Level: 4.8
Goodreads Rating: 3.71

Janie Johnson is a normal little girl until one day she glances at the picture on the side of the milk carton. It shows a missing girl. A missing girl who looks exactly like Janie. But Janie hasn’t been kidnapped? Has she?

The Third Twin by CJ Omololu

Pages: 336
Reading Level: 4.6
Goodreads Rating: 3.78

As little girls, identical twins Lexi & Ava made up a third sister, Alicia. They blamed her for everything & used her as cover to date bad boys. But now one of the boys “Alicia” dated is murdered…and then another…

Non-Fiction Books for Boys

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Pages: 200
Goodreads Rating: 3.77
Read Our Interview With Jack Gantos

As a young man, Gantos ran afoul of the law and was arrested for smuggling drugs up the Eastern seaboard. This is his true story about his youth, his time in prison, and how he came out and became an award-winning writer.

The Sherlock Holmes Book

Pages: 352
Reading Level: NA
Goodreads Rating: 4.24

Packed with illustrations, graphics and quotes, this is the ultimate guide to Sherlock Holmes and his long winding history from the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle to the big screen and beyond.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Pages: 227
Reading Level: 6.9
Goodreads Rating: 4.41

The astonishing story of how nine working-class boys from the University of Washington shocked the world and defeated both the elite rowing teams of the East & the German Olympic rowers in the 1936 Olmpics.

My Corner of the Ring by Jesselyn Silva

Pages: 256
Goodreads Rating: 3.88
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Take a seat ringside in the memoir of 12-year-old Jesselyn Silva as she recounts growing up with a single dad, putting on her first set of fighting gloves at age 7, and breaking into the boys club of Olympic boxing.

Science Fiction Books for Boys

Time Traveling With a Hamster by Ross Welford

Pages: 400
Goodreads Rating: 4.13
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“My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve.” So begins one of the most hilarious and entertaining time-travel stories ever written. Buckle up for a wild ride.

The Giver Graphic Novel by Lois Lowry

Pages: 185
Reading Level: 4.2
Goodreads Rating: 4.27

Lowry’s Newbery Medal winner about a young boy who discovers the dark secrets behind his ideal world is given an engaging makeover by P. Craig Russell in this excellent graphic novel.

The Long Walk by Stephen King

Pages: 400
Reading Level: NA
Goodreads Rating: 4.10

In a not-so-distant future teenagers across America compete in the ultimate competition: a walk across the country. Simple enough. Except once you start, you can’t stop. If you do, you’re shot. And the last one standing wins.

R is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury

Pages: 184
Reading Level: NA
Goodreads Rating: 4.12

Bradbury was the greatest short story writer of his generation. Found in Classic Stories 1, the tales in this book are some of Bradbury’s best: A Sound of Thunder, The Fog Horn, The Rocket Man, and Frost & Fire.

Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Pages: 263
Reading Level: 6.9
Goodreads Rating: 4.00

Heinlein’s controversial bestseller about a recruit of the future making his way through boot camp and into the Terran Mobile Infantry in order to serve in The Bug War against mankind’s greatest enemy.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Pages: 324
Reading Level: 5.5
Goodreads Rating: 4.3

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he’s playing a simulated war game. But in reality he’s part of a genetic experiment designed to find children who can wage war against the greatest galactic threat Earth has ever known.

Sphere by Michael Crichton

Pages: 371
Reading Level: 7.1
Goodreads Rating: 3.81

A group of scientists rush to a huge vessel on the ocean floor. It is a spaceship of enormous dimensions, undamaged by its fall from the sky. And it appears to be at least 300 years old.

Fantasy Books for Boys

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Pages: 190
Reading Level: 5.3
Goodreads Rating: 3.96

Taran, a pig keeper, just wants to be a hero. He is led into a perilous world of oracular pigs, the terrible Horned King and his Cauldron-Born army, and a quest to save the Kingdom of Prydain. Book 1 of 5.

The Hobbit Graphic Novel by JRR Tolkien

Pages: 134
Reading Level: NA
Goodreads Rating: 4.49

Bilbo Baggins has his contented little world turned upside down by the wizard Gandalf and 13 dwarves as they quest for a treasure stolen by a dragon. Full color illustrations introduce this tale to a new generation.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

Pages: 221
Reading Level: 5.4
Goodreads Rating: 3.99

This fabulous collection includes stories from Sherman Alexie, Stephen King, Jon Scieszka, Louis Sachar, Lois Lowry and more, all inspired by the haunting illustrations of Chris Van Allsburg.

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman

Pages: 192
Reading Level: 3.9
Goodreads Rating: 4.3

Volume one of P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s wonderfully creepy novel about an orphaned boy raised in a graveyard who must face the dark and deadly ghosts of his past.

Literary Books for Boys

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

Pages: 352
Reading Level: 5.2
Goodreads Rating: 3.95

Sarah and Eric have been friends forever, drawn together his obesity and her scars, which made both of them outcasts. Now Sarah lies in hospital, and Eric must discover the terrible secret that put her there.

Vision Quest by Terry Davis

Pages: 256
Reading Level: 5.4
Goodreads Rating: 3.87

You think I’m just another muscle-bound, sex-crazed, fuzzy-brained, futureless JOCK. But You’re Wrong. I dream big. I love hard. I think far. I act fast. I live humbly. I want to win. And, yeah, I’m a jock. My Vision. My Quest. My Life.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend

Pages: 272
Reading Level: 5.1
Goodreads Rating: 3.87

Adrian Mole, aged 13 & 3/4, has it rough. Luckily he keeps a hilarious journal where he tells us all about it. Everything from losing his first love to his neighbors attempts to seduce his mother.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

Pages: 212
Reading Level: 4.8
Goodreads Rating: 3.95

The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce Loski, she flipped. The first time Bryce saw Juli, he ran. A hilarious novel of eighth grade relationships told from both character’s point of view.

Becoming Muhammad Ali by Kwame Alexander

Pages: 320
Reading Level: 5.4
Goodreads Rating: 4.16

Cassius Clay is a struggling kid dealing with the challenges of racism, but he is on his way to transforming into Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer who ever lived and one of the most revered athletes of the 20th Century.

Reluctant Reader Books