Character Building Chapter Books for Boys

Now that I’m a “boy-only mom” (because my daughter is in college) choosing read-aloud books requires a new consideration. Will the potential book appeal to my boys?

I can’t get away any longer with reading books that have any sort of girly-girl flavor. Lucky for me, there are TONS of wonderful living books to fill the time. Also lucky for me, I LOVE these books just as much as my boys!

What Makes A Book Appealing To Boys

What makes a book appealing to BOYS? Adventure. Mystery. Intrigue. Strong characters. Humor. Battles.

What makes THESE particular books appealing to ME? Many of them have great characters who display great character. Leadership. Courage. Strength. Perseverance. Tenderness. Friendship. Boundaries. Repentance. Forgiveness. Humility. Resourcefulness. Honesty.  

In today’s world, my boys can never get enough examples of people who display good character. I especially love those whose characters face and overcome trials or temptations.

Some of these books also contain the plot of good overcoming evil which can so beautifully illustrate the point I like to remind my boys often: good wins in the end. God wins. That’s a message I want to be burned in their souls so they never lose hope when the evil of this world seems to speak louder than anything else they might hear.

These character building chapter books for boys make great read alouds or read alones for all ages.

This post contains affiliate links.

Character Building Chapter Books for Boys

Ah. These are good books indeed. They don’t necessarily fit into a historical period or work with any academic lessons. Well, some of them might, but for the most part, they’re just good books.

I thought about arranging them in some order of age-appropriateness or character quality, but each of them fit into too many categories. I just couldn’t come up with a better plan than listing them alphabetically.

Please let me know which of the list you’ve enjoyed in your home! Or, give me other wonderful ideas for reading with my boys!

P.S. There are occasional curse words in children’s literature. Gasp! Be assured the words are easily skipped over or replaced with less offensive words if you are reading aloud. If you hand the book over to your children to read alone and don’t want them reading curse words, you may want to do a quick internet search to be sure the particular book has no bad language.

The List of Chapter Books for Boys

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Beatinest Boy by Jesse Stuart

Call It Courage by Armstrong Perry

The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy

The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat

The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Father Brown Reader by Nancy Carpentier Brown

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes

The Good Master by Kate Seredy

The Green Ember by S. D. Smith

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Kingdom Series by Chuck Black

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis

A Penny’s Worth of Character by Jesse Stuart

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

Rascal by Sterling North

Redwall by Brian Jacques

The Rightful Owner by Jesse Stuart

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe

The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit

Sugar Creek Gang Series by Paul Hutchens

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

The Terrestria Chronicles Series by Ed Dunlop

The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill

A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy

Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White

The White Stag by Kate Seredy

The Wonderful Oz by James Thurber

Lamplight Books for Boys

Many of these are available in audio drama, too. That’s how we’ve enjoyed most of them. I’m rather sure I would enjoy just about any book from Lamplighter.

The Battle by A.L.O.E.

Buried in the Snow by Franz Hoffmann

Charlie’s Choice by M. L. Nesbitt

Hedge of Thorns by

Sir Knight of the Splendid Way by W. E. Cule

Sir Malcolm and the Missing Prince by Sidney Baldwin

Teddy’s Button by Amy LeFeuvre

The Wanderer by A.L.O.E.

White Gypsy by Anette Lyster

My, my. There really are more good books than there is time. I’m always surprised when I survey how many wonderful books we’ve enjoyed together over the years – whether as read-alouds or audiobooks.

Since this second son of mine likes reading to himself more than the first, many of this list I can just turn over to him. That’s my secret plot to make sure most of our read-alouds are new to me. I don’t find too much pleasure in re-reading even a good book when I know there are so many wonderful new-to-me reads waiting!

Your turn! Add to my list so that I can always have great character-building chapter books for boys at the ready!

Other Posts You Might Enjoy

Fairy TalesBoyschoolingcharacter books


Need Help with Character Training?

Either of both of these homeschool masterclasses can be helpful! They include creative ideas for reaching our children in ways other than strict discipline or lectures.


  1. Thanks for the great book list! I love your ideas!

  2. Great reference! Thanks

  3. Thanks for the list! Other great chapter books for boys: Kingdom Tales Trilogy by David & Karen Mains (Lamplighter Publishing), Christie’s Old Organ (Lamplighter Publishing), Lost On A Mountain In Maine by Donn Fendler, The Sugar Creek Gang series by Paul Hutchens, The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, The Terrestria Chronicles series by Ed Dunlop, The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne

  4. Ooh! I forgot about the The Swiss Family Robinson, The Terrestria Chronicles and the Sugar Creek Gang! These reminded me of The Kingdom Series, too. I’ll be adding all these wonderful books to the list. 🙂 I haven’t heard of the other books and can’t wait to check them out. Thank you!

  5. The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be!!! I read that aloud to my son when he was fairly young–he is gifted and didn’t even mind the deep vocabulary–he was smitten with the story! I enjoyed it too. (Also Owls in the Family and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Lynette’s suggestion The Coral Island is a great one too ( I loved reading it as a kid!). One that was not mentioned (and obviously there too many to mention, but this is one we enjoyed): The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney. Such a great journey of reflection for a young mind! I also enjoyed that one even as an adult. Thanks for the list!

  6. You’ve given me another one to check out! 🙂 I’ve never heard of The Seven Wonders of Sassafrass Springs and can’t wait to find it. Thanks, Ginette!

  7. We love Narnia and Hugo Cabret! We also loved Wonderstruck!

  8. I’ve never heard of Wonderstruck, but my library has it!! Thanks for the suggestion!

  9. Thanks for awesome lists. I have bookmarked this site!
    My boys (and girls!) loved the Ralph Moody series. So did my husband and I! It all starts with an incredible and touching adventure in Little Britches. So many life lessons learned through that series!

  10. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂 We have only read Little Britches from the series, but thoroughly enjoyed it.

  11. A great list, but I wouldn’t limit it to boys, as my daughter has enjoyed many of the books on this list. We would add Freckles~A Young Man’s Courageous Adventures in the Limberlost Forest. There were some titles we have not read. Thanks for the suggestions. We are always looking for quality books.

  12. Freckles is by Gene Stratton~Porter and can be purchased through Focus On The Family if you have trouble finding it.

  13. Completely agree, Carol. My daughter enjoyed a great many of these books, too. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation of Freckles. I’ve added it to my Amazon cart!

  14. Polly Fry says:

    Check out Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare and By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman.

  15. Ooh, both of those are great books for boys, too! Thanks, Polly!

  16. Some books I’ve read to my two tween boys are: Janette Oke’s Seasons of the Heart series about Josh Jones (they LOVED it!), Grandma’s Attic series by Arleta Richardson (another HUGE favorite), By Secret Railway, The Little House Books as well as several other extra books about the Ingalls-Wilders, Hidden Rainbow, The Secret Garden, all of Patricia M. St. John’s books, and well, I could go on…and on…!

  17. Thanks for the additions, Sharon!

  18. Lori Chenoweth says:

    My son is 9, but while his appreciation for a good plot is high, his reading level is still coming more slowly. I have had him listen to a lot of books on audio to continue to develop his literacy, language development, and appreciation for the syntax of words, etc. I am interested in identifying some high interest stories on a more easy reading level. Thank-you for any help you are able to give. I would really appreciate that. My email address was listed when I posted this comment. Sincerely, Lori

  19. Great question, Lori! My son loved several series during that stage: Encyclopedia Brown, Cam Jansen, Magic Treehouse, and the Boxcar Children books come to mind. There are several easier chapter books that aren’t necessarily parts of a series like Stone Fox, The Courage of Sarah Noble, Molly’s Pilgrim, Sarah Whitcher’s Story, The Sword in the Tree, The Whipping Boy, The Hundred Dresses, and the Hundred Penny Box. Sadly, my son also enjoys the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series – ugh. I’ve also heard boys love the Geronimo Stilton series, but I don’t remember either of my boys gravitating to those.

    I think it’s great that you’re encouraging audio books at the same time! Be sure to stop back by and let me know if any of these titles worked for your son. 🙂

  20. Yay! Thank you! -Mom of 3 Boys ❤❤❤

  21. any good non fiction books you can recommend?

  22. Caro, for character building or another topic? 🙂

  23. Thank you for your list I too am now a boy Mom as my girls have all graduated. I would like to ad a series to your list called Micheal Vey by Richard Paul Evans. My girls liked it and my boys are now getting into it. The main character loves his Mom, he is respectful it teaches values without being obvious about it.

  24. Ashley N Hunt says:

    Thank you so much for this list. Truly amazing.

  25. Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates – so much to be said about hard work, upstanding character, care and compassion for others, helping the poor, how to treat one’s family; and lots of interesting bits about Dutch culture. It isn’t packed full of adventure, but my adventure-loving 6 yo listened to every bit of this story and was deeply enthralled.

  26. Yes, that’s a great one! Thanks for adding it to our list!

  27. I am doing distance learning with my grandson who is a 4th grade. We’ve enjoyed Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Frindle by Andrew Clements. Thank you for your suggestions.

  28. Thanks for adding these, Dani!

  29. I’m kind of surprised and maybe I just missed it, but I didn’t see the Wingfeather saga. My kids are still to young but my husband and I both listened to the audiobooks and really enjoyed them. I listened initially to see if they would work for my oldest who enjoys audiobooks during our afternoon quiet time. He’s only six so we have a few more years before he’s ready but we can’t wait to read them to him.

  30. We also enjoyed the “My Father’s Dragon” series!

  31. Also, “Snow Treasure,” by Marie McSwigan, for courage, bravery, and sacrifice. “My Father’s Dragon” is for younger readers and this one is for probably middle grade readers, and is based on a true story.

  32. Thanks for the suggestions, Sarah!

  33. Do you have a printable version of this list?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *