7 Books to Engage Teenage Boys
Convincing any teenage boy to sit down and read a novel in his spare time can be a challenging feat – especially when he already feels as though he’s dedicated most of his day to academic pursuits. However, reading is an activity that can help to calm nerves, maximize cognitive function, and allow young men to unwind in a stimulating and healthy way.
While in school, teenage boys follow strict schedules regarding their education. However, taking the time to indulge in a good book can reduce the performance pressure that surrounds school life.
In spite of these positive considerations, boys have been scoring lower in reading assessment tests for a number of decades now. Encouraging young men to read books that they enjoy, relate to, and connect with may help promote a more active reading hobby. Many reading experts agree that boys need to pick books that interest them, and fortunately there are numerous books out there that may rank high in young male appeal. Following are just some of the mind-expanding options to choose from.
1. Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A classic of literature, and regarded by many to be the “great American novel”, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn introduces teenagers to a vibrant collection of unique characters and personalities. In the story, Huck escapes his abusive father at a young age, taking to the Mississippi River on a raft.
On his adventures he meets an escaped slave named Jim and the two of them set off on an adventure that leads them into many daring situations and engaging social interactions. Filled with action, fun, and wit, as well as a subtle undercurrent of various serious themes, Mark Twain’s classic is a masterpiece for men both young and old.
2. Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451
Perhaps the ideal literature to impress upon young men the value of a good book, Fahrenheit 451 is a novel set in a distant future world. In this reality, television dominates the masses and the totalitarian regime outlaws the written word, ordering “firemen” to burn them. The firemen are officials who have the job of starting fires rather than stopping them. The story follows the experiences of one firemen who starts to see how beneficial the printed word can be.
3. Stephen Crane – Red Badge of Courage
Coming of age stories can be particularly poignant to young men who are only just beginning to find their place in the world. Known as a war novel, the Red Badge of Courage is at its heart a coming of age story that takes place upon the battlefield.
A young boy, Henry Fleming, leaves his mother behind to join the Union Army, and explore the true depths of his courage. In his first battle, Henry fails to live up to his own expectations and resolves to redeem himself in the next skirmish he faces. This is a novel that addresses the struggle to find bravery as well as the tragedy of war.
4. Charles Dickens – David Copperfield
Charles Dickens’ name is one that most students come to learn during their education of the English language and literature. However, David Copperfield is a story can be overlooked in favor of classics such as “The Tale of Two Cities”, or “Great Expectations”. This is quite unfortunate, as it can be a great starting point for young men who are starting to explore the merits of classic literature.
This Dickens story is a coming of age tale that doesn’t place the protagonist in a situation that allows him to find his identity all at once. Instead, readers have the opportunity to explore the truth of humanity and a cast of characters surrounding, challenging, and helping a boy as he finds his way to manhood. This can be particularly moving for teenagers, who with the help of proper guidance, are learning how to become men themselves.
5. Gary Paulsen – Hatchet
A favorite book of many young men, Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet explores the challenges that face a teenage boy when his small plane crash lands in the Canadian wilderness. Presented with a life-changing situation, Brain Robeson must find a way to survive in unknown lands armed with only his own intelligence and a hatchet. Without the comfort of other people to lean on, Robeson learns how to trust his own instincts and rely upon himself.
6. Jack London – The Call of the Wild
Most teenage boys will feel the “call of the wild” at some point during their youth. Young men are often struck by the desire to find their own path and discover freedom, while still recognizing the rules of the world that they live i, and the consequences that can come with stepping out of line. London explores this concept using the lives of dogs within the Alaskan Klondike who fight to survive in a world filled with challenges.
7. Scott Westerfield – Leviathan
This descriptive book for young boys explores the ever-evolving battle between technology and biology. Set in 1914 in a time where Europe sits on the very edge of war and the British and Germans are arming themselves with futuristic biotechnology and new weaponry, the novel explores an unlikely friendship that emerges between youngsters from the two opposing sides. Their uneasy alliance changes the course of their lives and the war, showing the true power of friendship.
Always Encourage Reading
While helping young boys to understand the advantages of reading can be difficult, it’s worth noting that the hobby can help teens learn new cognitive and problem solving skills that stimulate the brain and enhance learning capabilities. By reading in their teenage years, young men can enhance their cognitive reserves and build an enjoyable hobby for the future.
In addition, through reading, teens can learn about the various complex aspects of the world around them through complicated characters from distant cultures. Reading can help teens expand their horizons, and discover solutions to the internal problems they may face.
Paige Maslen is the Associate Director of Marketing, Media, and Public Relations at Army and Navy Academy, a private military boarding school in San Diego County, California. Her specialties include strategy and content for the school’s digital properties. In her free time, Paige enjoys hiking, tennis, and yoga.