Good adventure books for 8yo boy?

It’s very exciting to see my son G- learn how to read! Six months ago he was proud to sound out rudimentary street signs and newspaper headlines, and now he’s leaped straight to “level 4” beginning reader books, skipping the first three levels.
Important caveat: my kids are in a Waldorf school, and the Waldorf educational approach has them starting reading later than more traditional pedagogical approaches, it’s typically not until 2nd grade that they really get going. A-, 11yo, is an extraordinarily strong reader, so I have quite a bit of confidence in the approach…
Anyway, the problem is that G- wants to read books that are topically a bit beyond where I think he’s comfortable…

Like just about every boy I’ve ever known — myself included! — he’s into dramatic stories and his two favorite topics are Star Wars and Harry Potter.
Problem is, they give him nightmares and make him have nighttime fears, so while it’s fun to read about Darth Sith and Lord Voldemort, they’re really not appropriate and certainly not the best stories for him.
He does really like The Magic Tree House series, we’ve enjoyed The Hardy Boys books, but what I’m wondering is if there are some books that are written for beginning readers but live somewhere on the continuum between Magic Tree House and Harry Potter?
A series that has some “coolness” to it, has fun stories with action and adventure, but are still very mild and don’t have troublesome images, scary covers, or overly aggressive themes. It’d probably be a bonus if there’s a strong Dad character in the story (I am highly troubled by how many children’s stories involve either one-parent or zero parent family units, but that’s another discussion entirely)
Anyway, blog reader gang, any recommendations on books or series I could steer him towards so he’d enjoy what he’s reading, think it’s cool, and not be troubled by the storyline and pictures?

16 comments on “Good adventure books for 8yo boy?

  1. At 8 years old, I was reading all the Science Fiction I could get ahold of. Of course, “Star Trek” was really big then too.
    Sci Fi as a genre is much more optimistic than most other literature types and can be very mind-expanding, if you are into that sort of thing.
    I believe it helped form my life as my personal goal is to create the infrastructure to travel to the stars!
    They can be strong incentives to do well in maths & science! The thinking: ‘if i want to be out there too, i gotta do well in school, especially…’
    My 2cents,
    Pam Hoffman
    p.s. i don’t remember having any bad dreams after reading either and i have a VERY active imagination.

  2. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. When I was a beginning reader I adored the Little House on the Prairie series. It’s not quite Harry Potter, but the reading level is relatively simple and all of the books have a very strong two-parent family (although they’re not quite AP…). The 3rd book in the series is Farmer Boy and might be fun for him to read if he wants something a little different. My cousin’s son likes Cam Jensen (

  3. Might I suggest “The Spiderwick Chronicles?” The movie was fun, the books, I thought, were better. The characters are interesting the stories are adventuresome, and it is written at about this level of reading. (My 8 year old and six year old both enjoy them…they read at basically the same level). Also, my 8 year old loved the Captain Underpants books. Um, not my cup of tea, but, hey, if he’s reading, I’m happy. I also found some good stuff at My boys and I read “The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles” (written by Julie Andrews years ago!) this spring as a bed time story and they really loved it, it also lead us to many other great books. Find one you like on Amazon and follow the suggestions, you are sure to find some great things. We currently have a whole stack of “getting to it” books. For a reading mama, it makes my heart sing. 🙂

  4. What about the Encyclopedia Brown books? They’re short stories about a little boy who solves mysteries around his neighborhood. His Dad is the police chief in the town (I believe) and he helps his Dad solve cases sometimes.

  5. PS. Meant to say earlier, The Spiderwick Chronicles (and the subsequent book) also have the added benefit of being about kids dealing with divorcing parents. My son really identified with Jared Grace in a lot of ways.

  6. We had the same issue in our house– my son is now nine and loved the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (a great way to tie in ancient history lessons too) but I think if Harry Potter gives nightmares (as it did with us at 8) Percy Jackson is one to hold off on for a year or so…Have you tried the Gaurdians of G’ahoole series? My son totally loved those at age 8– just enough cool adventure without too much scary stuff. We liked the Boxcar Children so-so, loved the graphic novel series “Bone” (I found it a bit violent though). Spidewick Chronicles actually scared the pants off my little guy, but he is very sensitive…

  7. i love your blog! i’m a writer and an AP mom of three- co-sleep, nursed until 3, the whole shebang.
    books: check out Chinaberry website for children
    they have the most amazing, amazing book selections i have culled from the last few years. what about the Black Stallion series? i adored those as a kid.
    or Dragon Rider , Gone Away Lake , Hatchet

  8. I’m not really the first one to suggest the Hardy Boys series, right?
    I mean, HB & Nancy Drew were staples in my childhood! 🙂
    I’d forgotten how depressing James & the Giant Peach was in the beginning until I bought it recently for DD and decided to put it away until she’s much older.
    But nice things about HB is that there’s a *little* bit of suspense, but it always turns out to be readily explainable! 🙂

  9. Now you can shoot me for somehow reading that WITHOUT noticing that you mentioned the HBs.
    Okay, what else at that age?
    How about Tuck Everlasting…
    Is he ready for the “Wrinkle in Time” series by Madeline L’Engle? I was 8 when I read those I believe.
    Sorry for the hasty post… I really should go to bed now. 🙂

  10. When they are ready, it clicks. And so far reading has “clicked” very differently for all of our kids. Most are “late bloomers”, except the youngest who taught herself how to read, go figure. Our oldest boy loves the adventure stories, as well. Two recommendations, from him, that are a bit outside that catagory, however, similar in their suspense and mystery, are:
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid (
    The Penderwicks (
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a new book, with a contemporary/”cool” style to it. The Penderwicks is more traditional, with a tag line that reads “A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy” (a single Dad, too). Both are great reads!

  11. There are lots and lots of “adventure” books for boys (and girls!)…although many of them center on a boy who finds himself on his own in the wilderness for a period of time. If I remember right the family always shows up at the end though. Two of my all time favorites are My Side of the Mountain (and I think there is at least one sequel to that) and Hatchet. These are about older boys (probably 12 or 13?) but the material is appropriate for younger readers. The other series of books that boys seem to love (even though I initially thought of them as girls books) is the Black Stallion series. There are lots of these – definately enough to get him through a whole summer. Good luck! And congratulations on raising enthusiastic readers. Kids learn so much when they want to read everything in sight 🙂

  12. Hey Dave, My son since learning to read also enjoys adventure. Have you checked out the Captain Underpants series?
    By the title I was rather opposed to it but after someone else gave one to him and reading it with him, I was happy to buy more for him.
    There is some “bathroom” humour but it remains clean. Basically silly things like the “evil enemy” is Professor Poopy Pants who doesn’t actually have poopy pants, it’s just his name.
    They have some adventure, are really funny, and have definitely been well written for kids.
    Here is my Amazon link or you can probably find it at your favorite local bookstore.

  13. I second the recommendations on Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
    We have read the Hobbit together.
    There’s Rowan of Rin (Rowan of Rin #1) and other books in the series. Nothing too scary but plenty of adventure.

  14. There’s a brand new adventure book out called “Ricky’s Adventures” by Rick S. Decker. Its a wholesome collection of short stories about a 12 year old boy being raised in 1969 Florida. Ricky is a great role model for kids. He’s fun and couragous with a positive outlook on life. Available everywhere, I hope you will try this wonderful new book. Rick

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