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Turning the Page on Gifted Boys’ Reading Interests

December 29, 2008

by Thomas P. Hebert & Alex P Pagnani, University of Georgia

Worldwide, girls score 10% higher than boys in reading and writing.  Why?

Girls like fiction stories.  Educators, who are usually female, assign fiction stories.  But boys like other genres, so boys avoid the English reading assignments and read fewer books.  We need to provide our boys with choices that appeal to them.

Boys read:

  • non-fiction
  • action
  • humor
  • fantasy
  • science fiction
  • fiction with male protagonists
  • biographies

Over 30 of the books on Hebert’s and Pagnani’s suggested reading list are available at Coppell Public Library.  The list includes books for elementary, middle, and high school students, so check the suggested age level before selecting a book.  Many books are part of a series or more books are available from the same author.


Allen, Thomas (2004). George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.

Bradley, James (2001). Flags of our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo  Jima (Youth Edition) New York: Delacorte  Books for Young Readers.

Gonick, Larry (2006). The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part I: From Columbus to the U.S. Constitution. New York: Collins.

Iggulden, Gonn & Iggulden, Hal (2007). The Dangerous Book for Boys. New York: Collins.

MacPherson, Malcom (2001). The Cowboy His Elephant. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Mariotti, Steve (2000). The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Woodford, Chris (2005). Cool Stuff and How It Works. New York: DK Publishing.


Horowitz, Anthony (2001). Stormbreaker. New York: Philomel Books.

Lisle, Janet Taylor (2006). Black Duck. New York: Philomel Books.

Walters, Eric (2003). Camp X. New York: Penguin Group, Inc.


Clements, Andrew (2007). No Talking. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Clements, Andrew (2005). Lunch Money. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Lubar, David  (2007). Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie. New York: Penguin Group.

Lubar, David (2007). True Talents. New York: Tom Doherty Associate Books.

Lubar, David (2005). Invasion of the Road Weenies. New York: Tom Doherty Associate Books.

O’Malley, Kevin (2007). Gimme Cracked Corn and I Will Share. New York: Walker & Company.


Barry, Dave & Pearson, Ridley (2004). Peter and the Starcatchers. New York: Hyperion. (First in a 3-part series)

MacHale, D.J. (2002). The Merchant of Death. New York: Aladdin Books. (First of a 5-part series)

Nix, Garth (2003). Mister Monday. New York: Scholastic. (First of a 5-part series.)

Pratchett, Terry (2001). The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. New York: Harper Collins.

Reeve, Phillip (2006). Larklight. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Scieszka, Jon (2004). DaWild, DaCrazy, DaVinci. New York: Viking Books.

Scieszka, Jon (2002). Viking It and Liking It. New York: Viking Books.

Science Fiction

Bechard, Margaret (2005). Spacer and Rat. New York: Roaring Book Press.

Gaiman, Neil & Reaves, Michael (2007). Interworld. New York: Harper Collins.

Klass, David (2006). Firestorm. New York: Frances Foster Books.

Werlin, Nancy (2005). Double Helix. New York: Puffin Group.


Hobbs, Will (2006). Crossing the Wire. New York: Harper Collins.

Hobbs, Will (2004). Leaving Protection. New York: Harper Collins.

Spinelli, Jerry (2004). Milkweed. New York: Scholastic.

Spinelli, Jerry (2002). Loser. New York: Harper Trophy Books.


Adler, David A. (2007). Satchel Paige: Don’t Look Back. NY: Harcourt, Brace, Inc.

Bruchac, Joseph (2006). Jim Thorpe: Original All-American. New York: Dial Books.

DeYoung, Karen (2006). Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Harness, Cheryl (1998). Young Teddy Roosevelt. Washington DC: National Geographic Society.

Hawk, Tony & Mortimer, Sean (2002). Tony Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder. New York: HarperCollins.

Helpful Educator and Parent Resources and Web Sites

Scieszka, Jon (Ed.). (2005). Guys Write for Guys Read.  New York: Viking Books.
An excellent database that is helpful for learning what else an author has written. Simply search for the author’s name and a complete bibliography is generated.
Librarian Richie Partington’s personal home page where he continually reviews the latest books in young adult literature.
An interactive web site designed to help boys of all ages to find books that appeal to them. Young people can recommend their favorite books, and search for recommendations of others.

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