Early Chapter Books about Boys {Stand-Alone Novels}

This week, my book list features early chapter books about boys, but unlike last week’s list which highlighted first chapter book series about boys, today I look at a selection of stand alone novels. It was a surprisingly difficult list to make and I’d love for you to add a few suggestions in the comments.

A list of early chapter books about boys for kids

Early and First Chapter Books about Boys

A reminder for those of you new to my book list series: I’ve chosen books I think are appropriate for children who are not ready to read middle grade novels independently (save those for family read aloud time) but need something a bit more substantial than an easy reader. In general these are for children are ages 5-9, but of course your child’s needs may be different. You can read more about what I’ve learned in my post, {Tips from a Parent} Choosing Early Chapter Books for Kids.

Because many kids are now using an e-reader, I’ve indicated which books are available in digital format. (Note: All books are chosen by me and my kids. Book covers and titles are fffiliate links.)

Chalk Box Kid. Introverted Gregory moves into a new home, starts a new school and suddenly has to share his bedroom with his uncle. Amidst all the disruption he finds comfort by drawing a garden in chalk on the wall behind his house. A lovely story that many kids will relate to. Technically, this classic from 1987 is not a stand-alone book; you can read Gregory’s further adventures in The Paint Brush Kid.

Jeremiah in the Dark Woods is a merry book with a host of familiar fairy tale characters, a hero named Jeremiah Obadiah Jackenory Jones and a handbag-wielding grandma. Unfortunately, it is more readily available in the UK than the US. Its colorful pictures make it a great transitional chapter book for early readers. I’m waging a campaign to get the book in the US at least on the Kindle, so pop over the the Amazon page and click on the Kindle request link in the right sidebar!

Case Of The Elevator Duck. When Gilbert finds a duck in the elevator of his apartment building he is determined to solve the mystery of its owner. A fun choice for kids who like mysteries, it’s also available for the Kindle.

Look Out, Jeremy Bean!. Jeremy wants to start a collection, but his friends are already collecting rock, stamps and bugs, so his grandfather teaches him how to collect stories. Jeremy Bean is a good choice for the earliest chapter book readers.

Freckle Juice. Judy Blume’s classic, short novel is still as much fun as it was in 1978. Andrew thinks if he was covered with freckles like Nicky, he would have an easier time getting out of washing his neck. Sharon decides to sell him her super secret freckle juice for just 50 cents. What could possibly go wrong?

How Oliver Olson Changed the World. Helicopter parents don’t let Oliver do his own homework!  Oliver is relieved when he is finally allowed to work on his own solar system project with his friend, Crystal. There’s just the little matter of what to do about Pluto…  A wonderfully written, funny book from a talented author.  Also available for the Kindle.

The Seven Treasure Hunts. After finishing this book Kiddo informed me that there weren’t actually 7 hunts (he’s very particular about the proper use of numbers) but that he enjoyed the book anyway. Two friends engage in a series of games in which they leave clues to find hidden objects, but an older sister tries to thwart them. Byars is a reliable author with a number of early chapter books to her name, including one of my favorites, Boo’s Dinosaur.

Stone Fox. Willy is determined to help his grandfather save the farm so he enters a dog sled race. He is up against the formidable Stone Fox, who wins the race every year. I found this book to be both thoughtful and suspenseful. The ending of the race is abrupt, however, and kids will surely want to talk about it with their parents (get those reading discussions going!). Also available for the Kindle.

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. This very short novel tells the story of Jonathan who crosses a snowy mountain to fetch a pot from his aunt. Crossing the mountain, he repeats the mantra “there are no bears at all.” When he does meet a bear, he manages to hide in a rather clever way. This is a simple story which kids may be able to read in one sitting. It has received a lot of criticism as being not worth of its Newbery – I won’t comment on that except to say that, considering its woodcut illustrations and the emphasis on familial relationships, I found it a nice, if tame, book. Also available for the Kindle.

Balto and the Great Race. Recommending this book is oddly appropriate after the snowstorm that just pummeled the northeast! In 1925, Balto leads a team of dogs carrying much needed medicine through a blizzard to a remote village in Alaska. Based on a true story, this book is a good choice for history-loving kids. I do realize that technically this book should be on my Early Chapter Books about Animals list, but I hadn’t read it then and Balto is a male, so…. okay it’s a stretch, but you’ll forgive me.  Also available for the Kindle.

The Whipping Boy. This Newbery award-winning twist on the prince and the pauper story was one of my Classic Children’s Books from the 1980s. It’s a fast-paced, comical adventure with a bit of a life lesson thrown in. The Whipping Boy is a good choice for kids who are almost ready to ease into middle grade books but still prefer to read shorter novels. Also, it’s a terrific read aloud.

Georgie Lee. Sadly, Denslow’s book it is out of print. (Check your library! Request a Kindle version!) I just finished reading this book and the story moves at a gentler pace than many books about boys, although there is still a lot of humor. I always appreciate stories with positive relationships between children and their adult caregivers. In this case, J.D. spends the summer on his grandmother’s farm. He is less than enamored with the resident cow, Georgie Lee, claiming he’d much rather have a smart cat as a pet. Each chapter is an individual adventure and in the end, J.D. realizes that the cow may be much smarter than he originally thought. I really enjoyed this book and I’m going to go so far to say it might make a better read aloud than an independent read.

The Math Wiz. Of course I need to include a book about a boy who loves math! My numbers-obsessed son enjoyed this book, although unlike the 3rd grade protagonist, he also loves athletic pursuits. The text includes pictures of the creative ways Marty sees the world in mathematical terms. Also available for the Kindle.

Further Suggestions: If your child is reading early chapter books I recommend checking out both the Random House Stepping Stones series, Trophy Chapter Books and Puffin Chapters. The books definitely vary in quality but the three publishers have a large selection or books at this reading level. Personally, I would steer clear of the rewrites of classic novels in the Stepping Stones series, but I have a general distaste for that kind of book. A child of 8 does not need to read a heavily abridged version of Gulliver’s Travels. There are plenty of quality, age-appropriate books out there.

As a final note I feel compelled to say that you should not dismiss the books on this list just because you have girls! This is not a book list for boys. I can see no reason why girls will not enjoy these books, too.

Has your child been reading early chapter books? Which ones has he or she been enjoying?

Other book lists in this series:
Early Chapter Books about Animals
Early Chapter Books about Girls {Series}
Early Chapter Books about Girls {Stand-Alones}
Early Chapter Books about Friends + Families
Early Chapter Books about Boys {Series}

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  1. Jen says

    We haven’t read any of these so lots more for our library list! I actually think of any other stand-alone books about boys pitched at this level. Maybe Storm Boy by Colin Thiele but that might be for a slightly older age group.

    • MomandKiddo says

      Yeah, there seemed to be a dearth of stand-alones about boys. Maybe it was just me, but I had a hard time finding them.

    • MomandKiddo says

      Thanks, Kelly – I always need reminders of books I’ve forgotten. Sometimes I refer to my own lists to refresh my memory!

  2. Mary Jones says

    My 2nd graders enjoyed “The Chocolate Touch” by Patrick Skene Catling, and “My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannett as read-alouds. By the end of the year some could read them independently.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      Both, excellent choices, Mary. I’ve put My Father’s Dragon on a few other lists, I felt a bit shy about adding it again, but it’s a wonderful trilogy of books.

      • Mary Jones says

        Sorry, this was the first list I came to on your site. After looking around a bit further I saw that you had posted the dragon books. Another stand alone book that my second graders love is “Jack Plank Tells Tales”. It’s about a pirate, Jack Plank, who isn’t very good at pirating so he becomes the cook’s mate. When the pirate business slows down, Jack has to be let go. He ends up at the boarding house of Mrs. DelFresno, unsure of what he can do besides be a pirate. Mrs. DelFresno’s 11 year old daughter helps him investigate many options, but he discovers he can’t each one because of an experience on board ship, which he tells colorfully. Here is a link to a summary and review. http://www.powells.com/biblio/9780545004961

        • Erica MomandKiddo says

          No apologies, necessary, Mary. I’m glad you mentioned My Father’s Dragon, because it belongs on this list, too! :) I don’t know Jack Plank Tells Tales, but it sounds fun. I look forward to reading it.

          • Mary Jones says

            I am really enjoying your site. I was especially checking out chapter books for boys for my classroom, but I am enjoying all your lists and will recommend your site to my teaching friends.

  3. Jessica B. says

    I’m excited to look into these. The only one we’ve read is The Seven Treasure Hunts, and I laughed because my boys wondered why there weren’t seven as well! They were wondering if some of the book had been left out :) BTW I’m with you on the abridged “young readers” versions of the classics. We stay away from them…my personal experience tells me that this carries the danger of turning kids away from the real (beautifully told, linguistically rich) book later because they’ve “already read it” and they know the ending. Same with movie versions of classics. Not until we’ve read them first.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      I’m happy to hear you agree with the abridged versions, Jessica. Whenever I see those I just cringe!

  4. Texas mom says

    Thank you! Somehow we ended up reading our son mostly heroine books for the past 2 years since we began reading chapter books to him. It’s great to have some boy-centered books for h!

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