Recently an expatriate friend living near Paris, France, was wondering what kind of fun and interesting fictional books their twin 12 year old boys could read in English to keep them in touch with American culture.
In response, I put together a list of books here below that I thought boys from ages 9 to 12 might enjoy trying to read. Girls might like them too, but I chose this compilation especially for boys who want something to kick start them into reading. There are many other books I could recommend, but if you are looking to get them jump-started on something easily accessible and fun, these below I would recommend first. Note that all the links go to my Amazon affiliate program.
Books that have a special Americana bent to them:
Hank the Cowdog series (down-on-the-ranch humor)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (school kid humor that will open the doors to understanding modern American boy humor)
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (classic American outdoor adventure; the outdoor part is the story might as well describe the outdoors of where we currently live in California)
The series of books “Freddy the Pig” by Walter Brooks (anthropomorphic animal stories, with some gentle humor, that does a good job explaining through elaborate plots the different aspects of how American life, culture, and politics work – they were a big hit with my twelve and under crowd)
The animal stories by Thornton Burgess (nature stories that my daughter Noelle absolutely loves; shock full of real facts about nature in the context of fictional animal stories)
The Wizard of Oz series of books (the boys liked this as the books are far more interesting and gritty than the movies)
“Lawn Boy” and “Lawn Boy Returns” by Gary Paulson (humor about a boy running a successful business – this one really gets the American obsession about being successful in business life from a kid’s point of view; it had Gideon (age 10) laughing all the way through the books)
I’m listing a few Non-Americana books here below, but I include them because they are very popular in the United States and easy to read with good story lines:
ALL the books in Chronicles of Narnia series (I think that even though this was written by CS Lewis, a British writer, it is probably more popular in the United States than in Great Britain. An absolute MUST read.)
For 11 and 12 year olds, I recommend ALL the Artemis Fowl series of books by Eoin Colfer (it is the kind of science-fiction humor that made me smile and laugh as an adult; big people get the humor too and it is not inappropriate humor; a lot of advanced vocabulary, but accessible because the writing is so good, that in context, you understand it)
Thanks to Daniel, a reader of this 10ktotalent blog site, I am adding to this list the Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques. Several other friends over the years have highly recommended these adventure books of a mouse-warrior in a medieval setting.