Favorite Chapter Books For Boys

A GREAT list of chapter books and series for boys aged 8-12. Everything from action, adventure, fantasy, mystery to pets and the wild west!

I posted my 20 of my favorite girls’ chapter books a few weeks ago, and now I’m excited to share my favorite chapter books and series for boys! It’s most definitely not just for boys (nor is my girls list just for girls), but these are books that generally appeal to boys.

This age range is vital for boys and reading–it can really set the tone for how they feel about books going forward. I think the key is to find a series or genre that they can get into, and often it will take a few tries until you find one that clicks. Whether they like adventure, action, mystery, or fantasy–it’s on this list.

favorite chapter books & series for boys | oldsaltfarm.com

Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Please see my full disclosure.

I decided a long time ago that I would read the books that my kids were reading, so not only would I know what was in them, but so that we could have conversations about them. Even better—we could read them together!  Many of the books on this list I had already read as a child, but several have been published since I had kids, and I read them at the same time as my son. What FUN!  We eagerly pass copies back and forth, talk about what we think is going to happen, and then discuss what we think should have happened. 


The Great Brain

Oh my goodness, I LOVE this series.  JD narrates the stories about his scheming and con-artist brother Tom, and these are books about their hilarious adventures.  Talk about entertaining!

Leroy Brown, a.k.a. Encyclopedia Brown is a star detective in his neighborhood, and solves crimes using his uncanny ability to retain all sorts of trivia.  His dad is the chief of police, and every night at the dinner table, Leroy helps him solve puzzling mysteries.  SO fun! 

Dark is Rising

This book centers around the story of Will Stanton, as he finds out he is the last-born of the “Old Ones”, immortals that are dedicated to fighting to keep all mankind free from darkness and evil.  Words used to describe this series?  Epic.  Best-selling.  Award-winning. Celebrated.  It has been one of my favorite series since I was young, and I had to fight my brothers to read them!!  If you have a child that loves fantasy, this is a best bet!


What a fun series this is! It’s my favorite (and my son’s favorite) series since Harry Potter.  It’s the story of Kendra and Seth Sorenson, who find out that their grandparents are the caretakers of a secret preserve of magical creatures–and it’s not the only one!  They discover magical abilities, and Kendra and Seth must face challenges such as defeating an evil witch and a powerful demon, defending the preserve from an evil society, and ultimately, protecting the world from a horde of imprisoned demons.

Harry Potter

How can you have a list like this and not include Harry Potter?  What I love so much about JK Rowling is something difficult to accomplish–her books appeal to the young as much as they do the “not so young”, and it’s been one of my personal favorites for a long time.  It’s funny–I resisted this series until the 4th book came out, and then I was so curious I decided to try it. I was immediately hooked!  My son loved it too, and my girls are almost old enough to start the first book.

Hardy Boys

This series most definitely takes me back to my childhood! Written in 1927, the stories revolve around two brothers, Frank and Joe Hardy, who solve even the most baffling of mysteries. Yep, it might seem a little old-fashioned in today’s world, but I love that these boys are respectful to their parents, there isn’t any bad or crude language, and you don’t have to worry about one word that’s written in the pages.  They’re adventurous, fun, and have gotten many boys interested in reading that haven’t been interested before. 

The Lighting Thief

When Percy Jackson finds out he is the son of  the Poseidon, his whole world is turned upside down. He ends up in a special training camp for demi-gods–other children of the gods–and learns to adjust to this new knowledge.  He’s soon thrust into adventures and a quest to beat the evil lord Kronos, and save Olympus with the help of his two friends, Annabeth and and Grover. ***Rick Riordan has also written two other series: The Red Pyramid and The Heroes of Olympus, which are very good as well.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Ralph is no ordinary mouse, and he lives in the knothole of a hotel room. He’s seen plenty of guests come and go, but there is one young guest named Keith that will change his little mouse life when he introduces him to a motorcycle.  Curiosity overcomes caution, and soon, Ralph is in for an adventure!  Such a fun book–and a favorite in this house!

 The Indian in the Cupboard

A magic cupboard? A plastic Indian that comes alive? It’s the perfect recipe for an exciting story lessons learned. A great book that’s appealing to adults and children alike.

Call Me Francis Tucket

Francis Tucket is 14 years old, and traveling to west to Oregon in a wagon train when he is kidnapped by Pawnee Indians. As he searches for his family, two years are spent learning how to survive in the wilderness, and gives readers a peek into the life of the Wild West. He meets Mr. Grimes, and later helps rescue Billy and Lottie, and the three of them encounter soldiers, storms, and even treasure.


When siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy step through the wardrobe and into the land of Narnia, they find a frozen land enslaved by the wicked White Witch.  Aslan, the Great Lion returns when all hope is lost, and great sacrifices are made to overcome the witch’s power.

Treasure Island

It’s said to be the most popular pirate story ever written in English, and I think would have to agree! I read this years ago in my own childhood, and loved it. It’s told through the eyes of Jim Hawkins, a cabin boy, it details a perilous voyage across the Spanish Main. It’s full of mutiny (i.e. Long John Silver), piracy, and treasure, and it’s sure to please. A fantastic tale–a definitely favorite.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

This is the story of a French biologist and his assistant, in search of a mysterious undersea creature that’s attacking ships. Soon they discover that the creature is actually a submarine, and are soon taken captive aboard the ship and meet the brilliant and also mysterious Captain Nemo. They are in for an incredible journey, full of excitement and danger! (The link above is to an abridged version, but for older kids the original classic is wonderful.)

The Call of the Wild

Buck is enjoying his comfortable life as a family pet when he is taken by dog traffickers, and steal him to be a sled dog in Alaska.  He is soon introduced to a very harsh environment, and struggles to survive. He is passed from owner to owner, all of them incredibly cruel, until he meets John Thornton, who ultimately saves his life. But when Thornton is killed, he heeds the call of the wild. This unabridged version is for age 12 and up, in my opinion. I included it because if you have an 11 or 12 year old, this may really appeal to them.

Share and save for later!


  1. Thank You for these recommendations. And for the Girls list you posted earlier.
    I appreciate all the good “old time” books and when I go to the library I can never remember which ones they are.
    Loving having this to reference.
    Thank YOu, Thank You, Thank YOu.

  2. John Grisham has a series for kids – Theodore Boone – Kid Lawyer. Great series! As one of my favorite authors, he’s fast becoming my son’s favorite, too!

  3. I was just going to comment on the same series that Sharon mentioned above. We love Theodore Boone!

  4. And the unabridged version of Call of the Wild was really rough still for my 13 yr old/8th grader. But he’s also muddled through Animal Farm this year. Up next is Tale if Two Cities. Can you tell how excited I am? Lol I wasn’t reading these books until high school. When did this become standard for Jr. high? He’s n ot even in the high school credit class… (He is in the HS credit classes for science and algebra, but we didn’t put him in the ELA high school credit class… I’m really glad, too, about now… Yikes.)

    1. It’s true–every grade seems to have been pushed forward, and I think the same thing about my girls in second grade!! The unabridged version is definitely more difficult, so I hope the classic starts version will work for those younger than that. It’s such a great story–I love introducing the classics at young age. Animal Farm in 8th grade? That does seem young!

  5. I loved The Great Brain! I can’t wait for my oldest to get just a little bit older because I’m hoping he’ll love it too!

    1. I just laugh thinking back to when I read them…SO fun!! I think my girls are going to love them too—I hope so!!

  6. You should really try the book “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson. My kids have all loved this book (both boys and girls) and the other books in the series. I think there are 4 books in the series. I am not a huge fantasy fan, but really loved these books. It kind of tells the story of how Peter Pan came to be.

    1. Those are great books, thank you for listing them here!! I probably should have made a longer list, lol. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.