Wanted: Boy Books
While trying to wrap up the pre-nap story time with my toddler boy today, and while absently reading Goodnight, Moon in a mock-enthusiastic voice for the third time in a row, I started to wonder what on earth I’ll be reading to him in, say, three years.
Right now my problem is only how to put him in his crib without the kicking and shrieking that normally accompanies the end of reading time. We have stacks and stacks of toddler books that he loves, and as soon as I put one down, he grabs another insistently. He’s not much of a talker yet, but he will ask for books by name if they aren’t in plain sight ("Cars Cars Cars! Night-night Moon!").
But the problem I foresee in a few years is that I have no idea what to read to an older boy. For young boys, there are great protagonists in picture books like Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon and The Day the Babies Crawled Away. Even the little fur creature in Little Fur Family (an awesome book that can be hard to find in stores, but is worth ordering online) has great adventures out in his wild windy wilderness. And for older girls, I have no problem thinking of long lists of great chapter books with female protagonists. But I come up blank when I try to think of, for instance, the boy-book equivalent of The Secret Garden (no way is it Little Lord Fauntleroy). Is there a male counterpart to Anne of Green Gables? It’s not that I wouldn’t read these books to my son if he wanted me to, but I kind of doubt he’ll be that interested. Will I be stuck reading Captain Underpants until he’s old enough for Harry Potter? Are there fewer great chapter books for school-age boys in the lower grades, or does it only seem that way to me because I’m female, grew up with mostly sisters and had daughters first?
If you’re male and loved to read as a child, what did you read? What would be on your list of must-read books for a five- to ten-year-old boy?