Here's a list of great books and authors for 8 or 9+. Some are so exciting you might want to steal them for yourself. Some are gory, scary and generally terrifying. For some boys, this is perfect. Others won’t ever sleep with the lights off again.
The books are marked in order of difficulty: (3) are the easiest to read; those marked (5) are for very confident readers. For reluctant readers who need exciting but short books that are easy to read try quickreads.
For a more sophisticated reading list - age 12+ - click here.
Where to find these booksThe Book People stock some of these titles often in large collections at £1 or £2 each. Your local bookseller will be very knowledgeable and can help you zoom in on exactly the right book for your child. Amazon reviews can be helpful, and you can try your local library. Don't forget, your child's school library will stock most if not all of these titles.
If your son is stuck on Horrid Henry, Captain Underpants or Diary of a Wimpy Kid, you might like to try:
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett (3) These are gripping, comic fast reads full of action/mild peril. for 8+
Eoin Colfer writes the series Artemis Fowl which charts the adventures of a teenaged criminal mastermind. (3-4)
Most boys will be gripped by a good adventure story. If you think they'd like Famous Five or Secret Seven, try them by all means. These are the best of the easy to read, modern thrillers:
Anthony Horowitz (3) author of hugely popular action adventure (Alex Ryder novels, most famously Stormbreaker) and horror; be sure which it is that you are buying! Very fast paced. As your child grows older, they might like Ian Fleming's James Bond. It's worth knowing Charlie Higson's Young James Bond series is probably too racy for boys under 12.
H.I.V.E. (3-4) is a highly reviewed action/adventure fantasy series by Mike Walden (4) based around a spy school.
Malorie Blackman (4) writes gripping thriller/adventure novels in real life settings: Pig Heart Boy is often studied in year 8 at secondary school. These are available from thebookpeople.
Explore other worlds and strange cultures in these fantasy novels:
Phillip Reeve (4) author of the well-written Mortal Engines series: steampunk action/adventure.
Percy Jackson (4) series by Rick Riordan (4) myths and legends themed action/adventure series loved by boys and girls.
Harry Potter (4) series is justly popular. Nuff said.
The Hunger Games series (4) utterly gripping, very accessible thriller, post-apocalyptic/dystopic fantasy. These are somewhat dark (bit scary).
Michael Morpugo is the very famous author of War Horse, Kensuke's Kingdom, Private Peaceful and more. These are well written (sometimes very well written) and popular novels of varying levels of difficulty from (3)-(4). Some of these novels deal with bereavement and war, so check the content if you have a super confident but very young reader. Available on thebookpeople. These are action/character-based novels which are a good way to run up to more 'literary' books.
C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia (3) is a seven book fantasy series with plenty of action and adventure. Later (14+) try Fantasy.
Michelle Paver (4) author of award winning fantasy/historical adventure novels, most famously her stone age series. Very exciting, very well written.
G.P. Taylor’s Shadowmancer (5) is his most famous book: a dark fantasy action/adventure, part of a trilogy. Please note: the language of this is rather complex.
His Dark Materials (5) is the award winning Fantasy action adventure trilogy from Philip Pullman, whose other novels are also highly reviewed. Parts are scary and somewhat disturbing.
Now for the scary section...
Darren Shan (3) author of very popular thriller/horror novels, most famously Cirque du Freak.
Charlie Higson (4) author of terrifying horror novels, thrilling and fast paced. Not for the faint hearted.
The Graveyard Book (bit scary), and Coraline (4) by Neil Gaiman are beautifully written, eerie but poignant books. Later (14+) try edgy thriller/sci-fi and Neil Gaiman’s adult novels.
Skulduggery Pleasant (4) series of very popular adventure novels, which are somewhat scary as you can tell from the cover and the website!