Is it just me or do we have a serious lack of quality literature for boys in the middle grades? When I “google” or ask a librarian to steer me toward the best books for boys, and I have the same titles come up that I saw 30 years ago…Houston, we have a problem. I love “Where the Red Fern Grows” as much as the next guy, but really? We haven’t moved on from that?
It seems that publishers believe all boys love the supernatural. Not so for so many boys that I know. When a battleship with creatures on it explodes or a maze the size of ten football fields with monsters running around is a popular series, it makes me realize why “The Diary of the Wimpy Kid” was so popular. Real boys. Real problems. Real solutions.
And yes, I love a good comic strip, but when parents and teachers are desperate to get a book in a boy’s hand and the only one they are interested in has about twenty words on a page, it’s an uphill battle. The stories that have real plots with characters of depth will turn our boys into lifelong readers.
As we ponder our next book, we realize that one of the best-loved aspects of “The Great PJ Elf Chase” was the endearing young male characters. It’s clear to us that realistic fiction for the middle grades with boys as the main characters just might be a welcome title to many bookshelves.
In the meantime, I’m glad that “Harry Potter” came on the scene even though he, too, has fantastic ways of doing things. James Patterson and John Grisham decided to write books for boys. And they are good ones at that. But, that list is a short one when you consider all of the beloved female characters in middle grade books for girls.
What’s your favorite middle grade book that has a boy for a main character?