I also have been asked three times in 24 hours for recommendations for book gifts for boys. I figure the question must be in the air so for the record, here are my suggestions for books that guys absolutely love:
Guinness World Records 2007
The gold standard for guy-hood fascination. Readers and nonreaders LOVE the Guinness World Record books. Give this as a gift and you will be appreciated.
Calvin and Hobbes
It continually amazes me that guys and girls cannot remember their multiplication tables but can recite entire pages of Calvin & Hobbes dialog and strips from memory. Yes, graphic novels are all the rage, manga "rules" but no comic or graphic will ever top Calvin and his tiger in our hearts.
I Spy & Can You See What I See?
Just check the bindings of these books in any school library and you will KNOW how beloved this series is. In a time when computers can make anything possible, Walter Wick's images are actual photos NOT Photoshop renderings. He designs his sets and layouts with an artist’s eye. The optical illusions book is amazing, drawing you in and making you wonder, how did he do that?
Do you have to give a book for a guy who is marginal about the whole reading thing?
The Lightning Thief and the sequel, Sea of Monsters by Rockstar Rick Riordan
Received an email from a friend who thought her son, now a 6th grader, would NEVER become a reader. Over Thanksgiving he didn't watch TV or play videogames, he just read this series and then began working through the Alex Rider books. News like that gives his old librarian-for-life a case of the warm fuzzies.
Guys Read, edited by Jon Scieszka
Small bites of prose and illustrations. They don't have to commit to the whole book, just jump in where it looks interesting. Don't miss Jack Gantos's piece though!
Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
Gadgets, explosions, danger and high speed chases. See above.
- Point Blank
- Skeleton Key
- Eagle Strike
For a WWII buff there is Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac. This terrific read follows young Ned Begay from his early years at boarding school to his enlistment in the Marine Corps following Pearl Harbor. Tapped to help develop a top-secret code, he becomes a code talker. Ned is there in the thick of it at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima. He draws on the strength of his Navajo heritage to survive and lives to tell the story of the Navajo code that was never cracked by the enemy to his grandchildren. I love this book.
Tangerine by Edward Bloor
My reading friends tell me this is one of their favorite books. This was Bloor's first book and has made me a fan for life.
If the boy-o in your life has not read Holes by Louis Sachar or Hatchet (and its multiple sequels) by Gary Paulsen then those are good bets too.
At the junior high library today, I noticed that the Warriors books by Erin Hunter were flying off the shelves.
TA Barron's Lost Years of Merlin was a fantasy favorite with guys before there was a Harry Potter. Boys revere these books which tell the story of Merlin's early life. Mike Wimmer's covers are wonderful.