Eleven-year-old Boy Seeking Page-Turning, True-to-Life Stories

Drew is an eleven-year-old boy who loves to be outdoors. Some of his favorite things include:  nerf wars, exploring, rip-sticking and jumping on the trampoline. Drew doesn’t love reading, but he doesn’t hate it either. As his mom says, “he is growing in his like of it.” A slower reader by nature, Drew’s favorite books draw him in right away with a strong hook. He leans towards nonfiction and historical fiction. If a book looks too big or has too small of print he has a hard time starting it. 

Drew’s mom asked me for a few personalized picks. To help me help him, I asked Drew to share three of his favorite books and one he was not so crazy about. Here are his favorites:


1. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

The story of a prince and his whipping boy who inadvertently trade places. The excitement of the chase coupled with the struggle to get back to the castle without being caught by robbers kept Drew turning pages to find out what would happen next in this short and classic story. 

Readers 8 and up

2. Tales of the RAF by Don Patterson

A series of books that tell the story of young Harry Winslow and his friendships with the pilots of the Royal Air Force in World War II England. There are at least six books in this series and Drew has read every one. 

Readers 8 and up

3. God Knows my Size by Silvia Tarniceriu

The story of 13-year old Silvia, born into a large Christian family in communist Russia, who decides to find out for herself if God is real by asking him for three things. Drew’s teacher read this one aloud in class and he loved it so much, he bought the book for his mom as a Christmas present. 


One book Drew did not like was Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The style it was written in was a little difficult for him and it didn’t have a strong enough hook.


When coming up with personalized picks for Drew, I looked for books that were either smaller in size (and not too overwhelming) or had a strong hook to keep him turning the pages. Here is what I came up with…

1. Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle

Mountain Dog is a novel-in-verse about a boy, Tony, who moves from the city to the Sierra-Nevada mountains to live with his great uncle when his mom is sent to prison. With his world turned completely upside down, the connection with his Uncle’s dog, Gabe (a search-and-rescue dog), helps Tony transition to his new world. The search-and-rescue aspect of this book brings in some action and the fact that this book is a novel-in-verse means there are not too many words on the page to turn off readers who may be "growing in their like" of reading. I hope this is a book Drew will connect with.

Readers 8 and up

2. Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation)

Unbroken is a longer book and may be a bit intimidating, BUT I think it has a very strong hook and tells an amazing true story. The young readers version comes with word choices that fit better with younger readers, softens some of the harsh details of POW life found in the adult version, and contains pictures throughout the book making it more readable and less intimidating. Listening to the audio version of this book might be a great way to "read" this story as well. The Heroes of History series offers another version of Louis Zamperini's story. Whatever version you pick, I hope Drew will read and be inspired by Louis Zamperini's amazing life story. 

Readers 12 and up

3. Lincoln’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly

A thick book that might be a bit intimidating, BUT there are lots of pictures, short chapters, and the last 50 or so pages are appendixes and historical information from the time period so it really isn’t as long as it looks. The book begins at the end of the Civil War and while it took me a little bit to get into it (one reason I was a little hesitant to recommend it), it isn't too long before the action picks up. You know the story is well written and engaging when you find yourself hoping while you read that Lincoln lives. This book is the young reader version of O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln and it is a good one. As a fan of nonfiction and historical fiction, I hope Drew can look past the size and give it a chance. 

Readers 10 and up

Bonus Picks:  

I am giving Drew two bonus picks. One, because I think it could be a good fit (based on his favorite God Knows my Size), but I just wrote a blog post on it. And one series that most elementary school kids have been exposed to, but might connect with Drew if he hasn't tried it already.  They are:


You can read my thoughts on The Hiding Place here. I think the young readers version would be a great choice for Drew. (Readers 9 and up)

And, if he hasn't discovered them already, the I Survived series may connect with him. My son's favorites were I Survived the Eruption of Mount St. Helens and I Survived the Joplin Tornado, but there are a ton of titles to choose from in this popular series.  (Readers 7 and up)

Drew, I hope a few of these books grab your interest and keep you growing in your like of reading. Thanks for letting me pick a few books for you!


Interested in receiving personalized picks for your child? Let’s talk! Head to the Contact page and send me an email to get the ball rolling.  


(PS Reader age recommendations are just that, recommendations. I list them, oftentimes pulled right off of Amazon, to give you a general guide.)

(PPS All links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you like what you read here, using these links is a small way you can support the blog. Thank you!)