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Topic: Recommendations for boys with short attention span

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Subject: Recommendations for boys with short attention span
Date Posted: 7/20/2007 2:22 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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Hi everyone.  I'm looking for YA books for my sons who frequently start books and lose interest rapidly -- with some exceptions.  For example, they can sit down and read the longest Harry Potter books with no trouble.  Others that have engrossed them are the Pendragon series by DJ MacHale, and Children of the Lamp by PB Kerr.  On the other hand, they have started lots of books only to rapidly lose interest and never finish.  I think a contributing factor is that they've been spoiled with too much instant gratification entertainment like DVD's and video games.  I think if they are not grabbed by the book within the first chapter, they jump to the "it's a stupid book" conclusion and put it down. 

With the coming school year and the daily reading requirements it will bring, I need some suggestions of some good fast-paced adventure-type books they can read.  I'm hoping they can eventually come to love reading more and move into books that take a little more patience to read and enjoy.

Any ideas?


Date Posted: 7/20/2007 4:24 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2007
Posts: 23
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Cooper Kids series by Frank Peretti

Strange Matter series (forgot the authors name)

Remnants series by K.A. Applegate

CyberQuest by Sigmund Brouwer


If your sons are into comics, I have 3 books on my shelf which are classics.... but in comic strip form! It makes it a little more interesting.

Last Edited on: 7/20/07 4:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/21/2007 1:13 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2007
Posts: 269
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Cirque Du Freak books..I think there are 13 or more of them

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke...(this is a series)

Magik, Flyte, Physik - I can remember the author of these books though

Date Posted: 7/22/2007 5:59 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,743
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You didn't mention their ages, but I would recommend Gary Paulsen books, especially the series about Franics Tuckett (takes place on the Oregon Trail) or his series about Brian surviving in the Canadian wilderness (Hatchet, Brian's Winter, The River, etc.)

Will Hobbs is another good author, again with historical settings.  I would also recommend another fantasy series, The Warriors, by Erin Hunter.

Good luck!!


Last Edited on: 7/22/07 6:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/22/2007 11:55 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2007
Posts: 24
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I know Eragon and Eldest managed to hold my brother's attention well enough to get him to buy them.  He's no longer a YA, but he hasn't out grown his short attention span.  Of course I enjoyed the books too.

Date Posted: 7/23/2007 2:07 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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Thanks for the suggestions.  Keep em coming!

My boys are age 10 and 12.  The older one reads at or slightly above grade level, and has the shorter attention span with reading.  The 10-year-old is very bright with all things language-related.  He reads, writes, and spells at 7-8th grade level, so they both read at about the same level.

They both loved Eragon and Eldest, and are anxiously waiting for Mom and Dad to finish the new Harry Potter so they can read it. I think fantasy adventures seem to be their favorite style.  They liked Hatchet and Brian's Winter too.  They like going camping and fishing, so they got into those outdoor survival stories.


Date Posted: 7/26/2007 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2007
Posts: 284
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The Alex Rider adventure series seems to attract boys your sons' ages.  Also the Artemis Fowl novels.  While Eragon and Eldest are long, they are REALLY good if they like fantasy. 

Date Posted: 7/26/2007 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2007
Posts: 32
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"Twisted" by Laurie Halse Anderson

She just commented on her website how a male reader just wrote the following to her: "Alright so there I was, vacant as can be, in Books a Million, and I saw this bright red thing poking out amongst the other books. It turned out to be some creepy pencil, and I thought the book was going to be some sadistic story about a random kid, but then it turns out that it was the most (awesome) accurate book I've ever read that was in first person of a high-school boy. And it wasn't one of those crappy ones that are all generic and stuff.

Anyways, I recomended it to all my friends, and so far everyones loved it ('specially the dudes).

Oh, um... is the game that Tyler was playing real? If so it'd be so freakin' aweomse to play. :D

Keep up the great writing. And God Bless. XP"

Date Posted: 8/7/2007 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2007
Posts: 284
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ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card keeps my 7th and 8th grade boys (students) tied to the pages.  If they don't like computers or games or anything to do with sci-fi, they might not like this one.  MOST boys love it, but don't let anyone share the surprise ending. 

Philip Pullman's THE GOLDEN COMPASS, part of "His Dark Materials" trilogy, is for older teens.  It is being made into a film to be released in the next few months.  While it is a bit dark, I loved all three:  THE SUBTLE KNIFE and THE AMBER SPYGLASS follow.  Some deaths, though, so not for younger readers.

Another upcoming move is one of my very favorites, THE DARK IS RISING series.  You can begin with THE DARK IS RISING which was a Newbury Honor book, and if you like it, go back to the first book UNDER SEA OVER STONE.  Susan Cooper, author, weaves two families together to the fourth novel, THE GREY KING which is a Newbury winner.

Finally, try Jonathan Stroud's THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY which is another one my male students really enjoy.  Probably no younger than 7th grade for this . . . .



Date Posted: 8/13/2007 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2007
Posts: 34
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Maybe try the Redwall series by Brian Jacques? My friend is a very picky reader with an extremely short attention span and he only reads that series and Harry Potter.

Date Posted: 8/15/2007 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 699
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I thought my sons were never going to be interested in reading, when in 7th or 8th grade they were suddenly reading some classics like "The Invisible Man" and "The Time Machine".  Apparently their English teacher (they're twins) got tired of them complaining about books being boring and decided to try out something a bit more challenging.  I was shocked, because I had never seen them read anything other than comic books that wasn't assigned to them.

I loved the Gary Paulsen books, like Hachet, but couldn't get them interested in them, either.

Good luck!

Date Posted: 8/15/2007 5:27 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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Good  suggestions.  My oldest has read Ender's Game, and liked it.  It's interesting that someone mentioned the Artemis Fowl series because my boys didn't really like it.  (In fact, I have three Artemis Fowl books available on my shelf as a result!).  The older one didn't make it through the first, and the younger one read them all and wasn't that thrilled with them.

Date Posted: 8/15/2007 5:30 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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Another series they liked was the Children of the Lamp series by PB Kerr.  I read all 3 of those myself so far and enjoyed them too.  Here's hoping there's another one in the works...

Date Posted: 8/16/2007 12:28 AM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2006
Posts: 197
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You said they liked the outdoor survival-type books, have they read Surviving Antarctica by Andrea White? That's a good one.

Date Posted: 8/16/2007 2:41 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2007
Posts: 284
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I'm the one who mentioned the ARTEMIS FOWL novels because some of the 7th graders have really enjoyed them.  I do agree -- they are generally for a younger bunch, but if they like the mix of leprechauns, humans, good, evil, they often enjoy them.  I much prefer the Alex Rider series and "serious" fantasy like Tolkien, but I was sharing my experience as a 7th-8th English teacher. 


Just FYI,


Date Posted: 8/19/2007 9:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2007
Posts: 6
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I have a little brother (13) who has a very short attention span and never reads -- and he loved the Eragon books.  Also, he likes the Gregor the Overlander books by Suzanne Collins.  I've read those myself, so I know they're good!  :)

Last Edited on: 8/19/07 9:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/20/2007 10:33 AM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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Thanks for the input Paula.  I think your perspective as a teacher of that age group is good to have.  I think the problem with my 7th grader is that he has to start a book in the right frame of mind, or he loses focus and it automatically gets lumped into the "boring" category regardless of how good it really is.  That's why I'm looking for more suggestions of things that have lots of action from the start of the story, so that it grabs his attention from the beginning and increase his odds of liking it.


Last Edited on: 8/20/07 5:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/28/2007 1:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 192
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You might also want to consider checking out Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series -- Over Sea, Under Stone Though I would suggest starting with The Dark is Rising since OSUS is more of a prequel, Greenwich, The Grey King, and Silver on the Tree... Its one I fondly remember starting my love of reading and I adored Eragon and Eldest as well as Ender. And has two added benefits the longest book is 274 pages and the main character is around their age -- 11 at the start of TDIR

Date Posted: 8/30/2007 2:36 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2007
Posts: 46
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My boys loved Lloyd Alexander's "Prydain Chronicles" at about 6th grade.  Bill Wallace's "Trapped in Death Cave" was a favorite, too.  One of my sons liked "The Three Investigators" series.  These are older books but still have appeal.

Date Posted: 8/31/2007 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2007
Posts: 284
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One of my seventh grade students just handed me Ranger's Apprentice, Book One:  Ruins of Gorlan


When he did, half the class said, "Yeah, that was a GREAT book!" 

I teach all male students . . . so I'll be reading over Labor Day and thought I'd pass it on.  The reviews on the cover and inside are excellent.


Paula, 7th and 8th boys English

Date Posted: 8/31/2007 5:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/1/2007
Posts: 15
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Maybe Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom? I admit I recommend this to just about everybody, but it is young adult and it usually keeps up a fast and exciting pace. It starts with Mister Monday. Unfortunately the last two books (of 7) aren't out yet.

Your library probably has this series.


And I THINK Roger Zelazny wrote some YA (A Night in the Lonesome October and A Dark Travelling, maybe), but you probably want a second opinion on that because it's been a long time since I read them (I was a young adult at the time, anyway). His stories are generally past-paced adventure SF&F stories, although not all are kid-friendly.

I agree that Ender's Game is good but it's also a bit dark too.

Date Posted: 9/1/2007 2:03 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2007
Posts: 101
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My 15 yr. old is similar. He can read a Potter book in 24 hours straight through. He has also enjoyed the Artemis Fowler series by Eoiin Colfer. Also, check out the new YA books by Rick Riordan. I think "The Lightening Thief" is the first in the series.

I gave him a book of mine from my teens that to this day is still one of my all time favorites. "The Outsiders" by S. E. Hinton. He really liked it and read it so fast that I went out and bought every book by S.E Hinton that I could find. He read them all in about a week.


Date Posted: 10/14/2007 5:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/11/2007
Posts: 5
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I think that they might like the sons of dark series by Lynett Ewing

Date Posted: 11/11/2007 6:47 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2007
Posts: 19,371
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My son's all time favorite book is "The Phantom Tollbooth".  He read it in 6th grade and as an 8th grader  still claims it's his favorite.   He also enjoyed the "The Series of Unfortunate Events" of which there are 13 books and "The Chronicles of Narnia" of which there is 7books.  Believe me when I say he will not read unless forced, but the books I've mentioned he's read without complaint and enjoyed them.

Date Posted: 2/7/2008 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2008
Posts: 4
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You didn't say the ages of your boys, but having two of my own (ages 11 and 14), and being a high school librarian, I can tell you two popular series that boys of this age are enjoying are the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson (made for YA, not adults!), and the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix.   I still have boys checking out the Alex Rider series at the high school level, and the Lemony Snicket books.  Good luck!