Recent research and test results show that boys are not reading enough. Boys are, at the same time, not excelling at reading at the same rate as girls.
Is it lack of encouragement? Lack of interest? Are they over-scheduled or do they just not set aside “downtime” for reading? No one is quite sure where the answers lie; part of the problem is biological as boys tend to be less patient in learning new skills or doing things that aren’t physical. Part of the problem is sociological as boys tend to be encouraged to be physically active—often at the expense of things like reading and writing.
Here are our picks if you have a reluctant reader at home of the male persuasion (not that these books wouldn’t also interest girls…just that they’ll be more interesting to boys than a lot of what’s out there on the market):
A DAY WITH DOGS by Dorothée de Monfreid (Gecko Press)
Dogs in cars, dogs on skis, dogs in the kitchen, dogs at the doctor. What do dogs do all day? This rich and playful homage to Richard Scarry features a cast of funny dog characters living their everyday lives. Children can learn all about seasons, colors, food, town and country, night and day, school and work, and much more—including dog breeds, of course. Each dog has a distinctive character, revealed as they engage in funny conversations and playful vignettes alongside the descriptive labels and illustrations.
GUS’S GARAGE by Leo Timmers (Gecko Press)
Gus’s workshop is chock-full of odds and ends. When his friend Rico comes over with a problem—his scooter seat is way too small for a rhino—Gus finds just the thing to fix it. One by one Gus’s friends bring him their vehicles and Gus solves their troubles with ingenious solutions. No job is too difficult for Gus! Soon the workshop is almost empty. Is anything left to solve Gus’s own problem at the end of a long day?
I LOVE SHARKS, TOO! by Leanne Shirtliffe, Lorenzo Montatore (Sky Pony Press)
Stevie likes sharks. Like a LOT. In response to everything his mom asks him, Stevie has an excellent shark fact in response. “Brush your teeth, Stevie.” “Mom, Mako sharks don’t have to brush their teeth because they are covered in fluoride.” From morning to bedtime—you would think this might totally wear his mom down. But guess who likes, sharks, too? The book is filled with tons of fun facts, and also information about different shark breeds.
LEGO MAN IN SPACE: A True Story by Mara Shaughnessy (Sky Pony Press)
The true story of how two teens from Scarborough, Ontario launched a LEGO man 80,000 feet into space using a weather balloon, a homemade parachute, and a video camera is truly an inspirational story for the ages. A triumph of ingenuity, science, and curiosity, this is the first and only book to tell the story of how Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad accomplished this amazing true feat. With bright, original illustrations and an engaging story line, children, educators, librarians, and parents everywhere will go wild for this little LEGOnaut’s true tale of space adventure.
TOUCH THE EARTH by Julian Lennon & Bart Davis (Sky Pony Press)
Jump aboard the WhiteFeatherFlier, a magical plane that can go wherever you want, just point it up in the air, or down into the water (a la Press Here.) The WhiteFeatherFlier’s mission is to take children to places all over the world, engage them in helping to save the environment, and to teach them how to keep it clean for future generations. An interactive, inspiring, and lyrical story about how children can change the word and make it a better place by Julian Lennon, recording artist, environmental activist, and the son of Beatles icon John Lennon. Lennon will write an original song to accompany the story. All proceeds from the book will go to his charitable foundation (WhiteFeatherFoundation.com).
BROBARIANS by Lindsay Ward (Two Lions)
This is the tale of the mighty Brobarians. Two warriors, once at peace…now at odds. Iggy the Brobarian has taken over the land. Can Otto the Big Brobarian win it back? Or maybe, with a little help, the two brothers can find peace again.
COWBOY CAR by Jeanie Franz Ransom, Ovi Nedelcu (Two Lions)
A little car with a big dream… Ever since Little Car was knee-high to his daddy’s hubcaps, he’s wanted to be a cowboy. Cowboys get to drive the range, wear big hats, and sleep under the stars. Everyone tells Little Car that cars can’t be cowboys, but he can’t stop dreaming of rounding up lil’ dogies by day and talking around the campfire at night. So Little Car packs his trunk and heads Out West. Vroom! Can he prove he has what it takes to be a true cowboy? Join Little Car as he zooms into the hearts of kids everywhere.
KING ARTHUR: 10 Minute Classics1 0 Minute Classics by Sir Thomas Malory, edited by Phillip Edwards (Flowerpot Press)
Before Arthur became King and commanded a round table of knights, he was just a young squire with dreams of someday becoming a knight himself. It wasn’t until fate brought him to a sacred sword sealed in stone that Arthur learned the truth about himself and his destiny. The classic tale of King Arthur is retold in this exciting new addition to the 10 Minute Classics series.
BATTLING DINOSAURS by Anna Brett (Carlton Books)
Battling Dinosaurs is, without a doubt, the most high-tech dinosaur title on the market, bringing our planet’s most fearsome prehistoric predators to life like no other book. Thirteen fact-packed profiles supply all the need-to-know info about each contender’s weapons, armour, strength and speed. Then simply link your smartphone or tablet to a friend’s, pick your predator and let battle commence. Who wins? You decide! The latest augmented reality technology allows two players to share screens and pitch their predators into a head-to-head battle. The easy-to-download free app delivers four of the 13 dinosaurs featured in the book.
THE REALLY BIG I DIDN’T KNOW THAT BOOK: Bugs, Sharks, Dinosaurs, Cars, and Trains Edited by Johannah Gilman Paiva (Flowerpot Press)
Get ready to hear your kids say: “Wow! I didn’t know that!” as they dive in this huge, fun, question-answering book! Covering all of the most fun topics, from bugs, to sharks, to dinosaurs, to cars, to trains, students—and teachers and parents—will love learning countless things about the world around them that they never knew before!
FRIGHTLOPEDIA: An Encyclopedia of Everything Scary, Creepy, and Spine-Chilling, from Arachnids to Zombies by Julie Winterbottom (Workman Publishing)
Here’s the book for kids who love scary stuff, whether it’s telling ghost stories around a campfire, discovering the origins of various vampires, monsters, and witches, or reading creepy tales under the covers with a flashlight. Combining fact, fiction, and hands-on activities, Frightlopedia is an illustrated A-Z collection of some of the world’s most frightening places, scariest stories, and gruesomest creatures, both real and imagined. Discover Borneo’s Gomantong Cave, where literally millions of bats, cockroaches, spiders, and rats coexist—in pitch darkness. Learn about mythical creatures like the Mongolian Death Worm—and scarily real ones like killer bees, which were accidentally created by scientists in the 1950s. Plus ghost stories from around the world, a cross-cultural study of vampires, and how to transform into a zombie with makeup. Each entry includes a “Fright Meter” measurement from 1 to 3, because while being scared is fun, everyone has their limit.
WHO WINS? 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner! by Clay Swartz & Tom Booth (Workman Publishing)
Let’s say Charles Dickens challenges Mother Teresa to a lightsaber duel—will his superior artistry overcome her advantage in bravery? Or who wins a karaoke battle—Nelson Mandela or Jane Austen? They certainly both have a way with words, but Mandela’s over-the-top courage might take the day. Mixing and matching 100 historical figures in 50 competitive categories, from Ping-Pong to climbing Mount Everest, Who Wins? turns into a compelling game, which means kids learn while having fun in the process. Each of the famous people is given a short bio and ranked in six categories—bravery, leadership, artistry, wealth, wisdom, and fitness. And because there are no right answers, the reader decides, and in the very act of deciding and justifying the answer, real learning has taken place.
TIMELINE: A Visual History of Our World by Peter Goes(Gecko Press)
Take a journey through the history of our planet… A perfect introduction to history for young and old, Timeline travels the story of our world, through a lens that captures myths and legends, dinosaurs, the great civilizations, kings and knights, discoveries and inventions. Timeline shows the human race building settlements, fighting wars, exploring the oceans, living in castles, yurts and skyscrapers. It takes our planet from the Big Bang to the threats of climate change. And it does not neglect the imagination—here too are dragons, icons and fictional heroes. Each scene puts global events in perspective through space and time, drawing parallels and connections with careful attention and a refreshing playfulness.
OH, ICK! 114 Science Experiments Guaranteed to Gross You Out! by Joy Masoff (Workman Publishing)
Featuring 114 interactive experiments and ick-tivities, Oh, Ick! delves into the science behind everything digusting. Stage an Ooze Olympics to demonstrate viscosity and the nature of slime. Observe how fungi grow by making a Mold Zoo. Embark on an Insect Safari to get to know the creepy crawlies around your home. And learn what causes that embarrassing acne on your face by baking a Pimple Cake to pop—and eat. Eww!
THE SEARCH FOR THE SLIMY SPACE SLUGS! Doodle Adventures, Book 1 by Mike Lowery (Workman Publishing)
Pick up a pencil or pen. Sharpen your imagination! Here’s an adventure story where you, the reader, directly participate. Doodle Adventures: The Search for Slimy Space Slugs! marries the pleasures of doodling and drawing with the fun of a ripping good story. Like a visual Mad Libs chapter book, or a graphic novel where the reader gets to help with the graphics, it celebrates engaging, game-like, fill-in fun for middle-grade readers. Set in space, the book invites the reader to join Carl, a duck and member of a super-secret international group of explorers, on a journey in search of a very important grail-like object—a jar with an artifact that’s gone missing. By the end of the adventure, you’ll have cowritten a tale you can read again and again and show off to family and friends.
WAKE UP, SPRING Hotel Strange Graphic Novels, Book #1 by Katherine & Florian Ferrier (Lerner Publishing Group)
Hotel Strange is inhabited by an odd and lovable collection of characters: Kiki, a lazy purple fluff ball; Monsieur Snarf, a ghost and concierge; Monsier Léclair, a bookish rat; and Marietta, a young girl. Along with their helpful neighbor Célestin, they have a variety of delightful adventures. InWake Up, Spring (Book #1), the calendar says it’s spring, but winter weather won’t end. What’s happening? The quirky residents of Hotel Strange go on a quest to find out.
QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN APPLE An Unofficial Graphic Novel for Minecrafters, Book #1 by Megan Miller (Sky Pony Press)
Phoenix dreams of seeing the world outside the high walls of her village. One day, she takes a risk just to see the dark forest she’s heard tales of. It is a magical forest, but Phoenix’s forbidden trip unleashes a monster that attacks her brother, Xander. Her brother survives—but he’s turned into a dreadful, moaning zombie! Now Phoenix must leave the village to find his cure. Phoenix will have to conquer treacherous enemies—as well as her own fears—to find the enchanted golden apple, her brother’s only hope.
MOB SCHOOL SURVIVOR The Creeper Diaries, Book 1 by Greyson Mann (Sky Pony Press)
An exciting, hilarious new series for fans of Minecraft and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Gerald Creeper Jr. is a self-proclaimed pacifist, but he finds himself in the war zone when he starts his first year at Mob Middle School. At his new school, every monster in the Overworld is jockeying for power, and the skeletons seem to have it out for him. Armed with a 30-day plan, Gerald makes it his mission to use his brains—instead of his blasts—to survive the school year. The first book in this laugh-out-loud funny, heavily illustrated, diary format series for Minecrafters follows the most misunderstood hostile mob in the Overworld.
CATCHING THE JIGGLYPUFF THIEF Unofficial Adventures for Pokémon GO Players, Book 1 by Alex Polan (Sky Pony Press)
Ethan, Devin, Carlo, and Gianna are Pokémon trainers—and with the help of their favorite Pokémon, they’re ready to take on both the real world and the virtual world in Pokémon GO. Determined to catch ‘em all, explore every PokéStop, and battle their way to the top, the friends join Team Mystic and spend their days hanging out at their local Gym, a doughnut shop. But when someone breaks into the shop and steals a valuable batch of doughnuts, the friends are determined to put their brains and their games to work cracking the case. Then Devin discovers the first clue in her Pokédex; could the culprit be a member of Team Valor or Team Instinct, hoping to reduce the Gym’s Prestige? And can Team Mystic band together to track down the thief—and defend their Gym? Fans of Pokémon GO will race to the end of this exciting first book in the Unofficial Adventures for Pokémon GO Players series!
RICK BRICK AND THE QUEST TO SAVE BRICKPORT An Unofficial LEGO Novel by Tamony Hall (Sky Pony Press)
Rick Brick is an architect who remembers the days when Brickport was gleaming and prosperous. Today, the city crumbles under corruption, poverty, and crime, but a powerful young billionaire has recently stepped in to run the capital. The billionaire demands that Rick design and build a magnificent structure at the center of the city, something to bring the city back to its original splendor. But the billionaire has ulterior motives. The last brick to be used to finish the building is The Onyx Brick, older than the universe and holding all evil. Once the structure is finished, it will destroy the universe. It’s up to Rick to find The Golden Brick, which holds all good, before The Onyx Brick is put into place. Will Rick Brick save the day? Or will Brickport, and the rest of the universe, be destroyed forever? This is the perfect book for reluctant readers who love LEGO bricks.
SCIENCE NO FAIR! Project Droid, Book #1 by Nancy Krulik & Amanda Burwasser (Sky Pony Press)
It’s a pretty normal day for Logan Applebaum—until his inventor mother announces that she’s built him a new robot cousin. And Java may be really smart, but he’s also going to be a major handful. No one can know about his secret. This is going to be a long school year. With the third grade science fair coming up, though, Logan thinks maybe a super computer cousin could come in handy and he’ll finally have a shot at beating the nosey Silverspoon twins who win at everything. But when Sherry and Jerry steal Java as their partner, and then start suspecting something is up with the new kid, can Logan think fast before this crazy experiment becomes an epic disaster? Science No Fair! Introduces a new comedic pair that combines the literalness of Amelia Bedelia with a wacky modern edge, making for hours of laughter.
WELCOME TO CAMP PIKACHU Unofficial Stories for Pokémon Collectors, Book 1 by Alex Polan (Sky Pony Press)
Welcome to Camp Pikachu, where kids can act out adventures from their favorite Pokémon games and cartoons, battling other teams to earn points and badges and, if they’re lucky, make it into the Summer Camp Hall of Fame! During their first week at Camp Pikachu, Marco and his friends on Team Treecko find the perfect secret base: a tree house straight out of Fortree City. They proudly post their team flag out front. But during a game of capture the flag, someone vandalizes their base. Who did it? Marco thinks he knows: Team Fennekin, led by Stella and her brother, Sam. Sam is always up to no good. During the next round of capture the flag, Team Treecko bands together and tries every Pokémon trick they know. But when Sam gets hit by a stone mixed in with the mud balls, the game comes to a screeching halt—and Team Treecko discovers that Sam may not be quite the bully they thought he was. Just as Pokémon can Mega Evolve with Mega Stones, can a bully change his ways? Team Treecko is about to find out!
THE TRICKSTER’S TALE The Unbelievable FIB, Book #1 by Adam Shaughnessy (Algonquin Young Readers)
In Adam Shaughnessy’s debut, the first in an adventurous new series, eleven-year-old Pru and her classmate ABE—with help from an uncommonly rude squirrel and the enigmatic Mr. Fox—must save their town from being destroyed by battling Norse gods. Pru and ABE discover another world beneath their quiet town, where Viking gods lurk just out of sight. And when the pair find themselves locked in a battle against a dangerously clever enemy, they must race to secure the Eye of Odin, source of all knowledge—and the key to stopping a war that could destroy both human and immortal realms. Drawing from classic lore, The Trickster’s Tale is a tale rich in puzzles, plot twists, charming characters, and sly humour in which uncertainty opens the door to magic and the last thing you should do is believe your own eyes.