15 Favorite Chapter Books & Series For Boys {ages 8-12}

 The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks

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.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain

Tom’s mischievous exploits with his friend Huck Finn have thrilled many children over the years, and he’s most certainly an all-time favorite. I think this is for slightly older kids–probably at least 10, but maybe even 11.

Call Me Francis Tucket (The Francis Tucket Books)
Gary Paulsen

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.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2)
C.S. Lewis

This is the second book in the classic series The Chronicles of Narnia, and an incredible story. 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 (Sterling Illustrated Classics)
Robert Louis Stevenson

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 Spanizh 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 (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))
Jules Verne

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 unabridged version (which the above link is to) is most definitely for older kids–12 years old or so.  We also own the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Great Illustrated Classics) which is for the younger children, 8 and up.  I think reading and loving the classics can start young, but you can’t always start with the full, unabridged editions. The one  I linked above is also a stepping stone book intended for younger ages as well.

The Call of the Wild
Jack London

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.  REALLY good book. Once again, in my opinion, the unabridged version is for age 12 and up. I included it because if you have an 11 or 12 year old, this may really appeal to them. There are also several other versions (The Call of the Wild (Classic Starts)) that are targeted for younger ages, which I suggest using. We have the classic starts version, and my girls really enjoyed the story when I read it to them (age 7).

 I’d love for you to add your favorites for this age range!!  ENJOY!

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  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. :)

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