10 Books My Son Can’t Put Down

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best books for boys We have been reading a lot this year and I wanted to do a book gift guide for independent readers. I decided to go to my best source, my son. This list may be about books my son can’t put down but they aren’t only the best books for boys they can be for boys or girls. Go ask your child what book they think is the BEST book and come back and leave the title in comments! Let’s keep this list growing.

All our book lists contain affiliate links.

best books for boys

Scholastic Year in Sports 2014
by James Buckley Jr. is a wonderful series by Scholastic that brings together sports news and stats for a fun non fiction book for sports fans. My son adores this book and absorbs all the facts like a sponge. He loves to wow his dad with the stuff he reads in it and I like how that motivates him even more to read.

lego book

LEGO Minifigure Year by Year: A Visual History
by Gregory Farshtey and Daniel Lipkowitz is a fascinating book filled with Lego history. I love reading this with my son and showing him the Lego I remember from childhood and how far it’s come since the late 70s. Like many of the books in this list it is non-fiction and can be flipped through casually or cover to cover.

nerf book

NERF: Ultimate Blaster Book
by Nathanial Marunas is missing right now and this is a big deal. My son adores this book and can often be found flipping through it very seriously as he decides which NERF blaster to ask Santa for this year. The book covers NERF history and all the different blasters. I think it’s interesting to read about product development but this isn’t your average bedtime book. I can guarantee you it’s been read like one at our house though and once we find it it will be read over and over again.

awesome facts

5,000 Awesome Facts
by National Geographic Kids was a great bookstore find. This book has provided many hours of solo reading for my son. He’s a great reader but prefers to read stories with someone and read facts solo. This book is almost always on the floor next to his bed. It’s filled with fun facts about pretty much everything. The lists are themed and the full color pages are attention getting. Great book for fact junkies.

ricky1

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot (Book 1)
by Dave Pilkey  These early chapter books are about a little mouse Ricky who is not the most popular mouse. He gets picked on at school until he ends up saving Robot’s life and the two of them become best friends! You’d think that with a giant robot as a best buddy a little mouse might let it go to his head. Ricky is a good mouse through and through and as the series continues he and Robot continue to save Squeakyville from all sorts of evil. The books are full color and have a super cool comics throughout and an even cooler flip book in the middle.  You can read more about these books on this post .

percy jackson

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
by Rick Riordan was a huge hit at our house and the only reason we aren’t reading the next book in the series right now is because we picked up Harry Potter. This book is exciting, scary at times, and totally engaging for kids. The author knows how to suck kids in and make them beg for ONE more chapter. What I loved about it was the link to Greek Mythology. It gave me lots of topics to get deeper into with my son as we read the book about Percy Jackson and his other demi-god friends. Great adventure book for kids.

harry potter

The Complete Harry Potter Collection
by J.K Rowling is a staple at our house. We started reading the series when my son was 5 and spaced out the books reading one every year or so until this year when we read Goblet of Fire and Order of The Pheonix ( still reading this one) one right after the other. I love sharing this series with my son because he can see how much I love these books as well. It’s an effortless way of promoting reading.  The world of Harry Potter is so detailed and as children read further into the series they must make connections not only from one page to the next but one book to the next. It’s been a great opportunity to work on comprehension.

pokemon essential handbook

Pokemon: Essential Handbook
by Chris Silvestri There are a lot of Pokemon books on the market but this one gets the biggest possible thumbs up from my seven year old son. We had to replace his first copy because he read it so much it fell apart. This book is an encyclopedia of all the Pokemon characters. Each description includes a little blurb about the Pokemon and some stats. We have had a blast reading this book together. He memorizes everything about the Pokemon, looks to see which ones are about his height, about his weight and of course asks me to quiz him on all of the above. I can not tell you how much he loves this book. It goes everywhere with him and when he says ” Where is my book?” we know which book he is speaking of. If your child is into Pokemon they will love it.

encyclopedia brown

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor
by Donald J. Sobol is not a new series. While I never read them as a kid my husband did and was delighted to share them with my son. I was also delighted when he loved these detective books as much as my husband remembers loving them way back when.

big book of why

Sports Illustrated Kids Big Book of Why Sports Edition
by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids is another sports fan’s dream. This book has sports history and fun facts that will not only satiate curiosity but will let kids see how much more there is to sports than just the game they see. I love all the obscure facts and honestly I have learned more from this book than all the time spent watching sports with my boys ( I am usually reading in all fairness) and love that it can be read at random, no need to go cover to cover.

book list for boys

 

What books do your independent readers love? Share the title or link in comments and we will make this list even better!

Hexbug Races

hexbug activities for kidsSimple activities using toys we already have in our playroom are my favorite. Finding new ways to use the toys inspires creativity and play. This Hexbug race activity was a spur of the moment idea that I made my son pause as I ran downstairs to grab my camera. We played from after dinner all the way until bedtime and again after school the next day. We didn’t places bets but the way my son was hooting and hollering you’d think he had money on his little Hexbugs. Here is how we set it up simply enough that anyone can do this with very little planning. I apologize for the terrible light in the photos, I could have re-taken the photos in the daylight the next day but I try my best to always share it like it is, and this was done after the sun went down with bad photography light. The good news is that didn’t change how much fun it was.

Gather your materials. You will need some Hexbug Nanos , habitats, and bridges.  I have links to the exact toys we have at the end of the post. If you want to take a more hands on approach you could try making your own bristle bots and make your own mazes with Lego! With a little extra planning there is no reason you have to use these exact toys.hexbug races supplies

Set up the course. We don’t have a ton of tracks so our courses were short but we made two identical ones with what we had. You could do this with one track and a stopwatch too, just send the bugs in one and a time and time them.hexbug nano races

After you set the courses turn the bugs on and the first one to do the whole course and find the exit wins. hexbugs racesIf they exit before going through the whole course they have to start again.hex bugs races

That’s it.

That kept my son completely engaged and cheering for ages.hex bug collage

We turned the races into a championship having the winners of each race go head to head until we had a grand champion. My son decided to make the winner a medal with a pipe cleaner and bead.hex bug champion

Some activities have a clear academic goal,some are about creating something together,  some are for physical development, and some are just about having fun with your kids. They are all important.

 

Quick Links Supply List
This is a list of the supplies ( or very similar) items used in the post. This list contains affiliate links.

Hexbug Nano Hex Cells
Hexbug Nano Curved Bridges
HEXBUG Nano, 5-Pack
Hexbug Nano Habitat Set

Cork Board Spider Web Craft

spider web craft for halloween This spider web craft is not only an adorable addition to your Halloween craft display ( am I the only one with a mantel full of kid made stuff? ) it is also a wonderful activity that develops the pincer grasp , a major part of fine motor skills. By pushing those thumbtacks in, pulling them out, and repositioning them your child will be developing these skills. Wrapping the yarn takes major concentration and I am glad it did. I would watch frustration levels and be there to offer help if needed but my ” I will do it with NONE of your help Mama” 4 year old managed even if she went at it a different way than I would have.

Test our your cork to make sure the thumbtacks are nice and snug and please only use these tacks with children who are absolutely not going to put them in their mouths. They can be very dangerous if swallowed. Always be in arms reach and carefully watching.

Gather your materials. You will need a cork hot plate ( from IKEA), some thumbtacks, yarn, and a plastic spider. spider web craft supplies

Start by pushing in the thumbtacks. spider web craft geoboardWhen I explained the idea to my daughter I said the spider needs a web and that the tacks will make the edges of the web, the yarn will be the threads. She went to town adding tacks. spider web craft for kids fine motor development

Next cut a length of yarn long enough to make a good web, but short enough for a child to handle. Tie it onto a tack. cork board spider web craft

Wrap! spider web yarn art for kidsWhen she started wrapping it was all loosey goosey and I interfered. I didn’t want it to frustrate her when it was all slack. I shouldn’t have stepped in because she had a plan and really it’s NOT my web. I was the only thing frustrating her. Luckily she is almost as subtle about her feelings as I am and told me in no uncertain terms to back off. I did. It’s hard sometimes not to jump in and I find it’s way way easier not to when it’s your students than when it’s your own kid. I know this lesson will pop up in all sorts of arenas over the next dozen or so years. Back off. Got it… I hope.

It took her a minute ( and I stayed quiet letting her be) but she got the hang of wrapping, of how she had to hold the cork still, and wrap the yarn, pulling it tight.

spider web activity

When the web is complete it’s time to add the spider.

 

 

Word Building With Letter Magnets & Word Families

word family activity with letter magnets As children get a firm grasp on letter sounds they will be able to manipulate those sounds to create new ones.  My daughter has been playing with letter sounds for a while ( I think she is desperate to catch up to her big brother) and rhyming is one of her favorite things to do. All of her time rhyming has definitely helped her be able to isolate and substitute sounds and I wondered if she was ready for some word families. She was. I chose the word families that we used in this activity ( all, ap, at, it ) because she can sound them out without help. I wanted her to be able to build the words without me, because you are using masking tape you can easily switch up the word families as your child develops.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some masking tape, some letter magnets ( try to find ones that are fully magnetic instead of having little magnets glued on the back to be safe) , a cookie sheet, and a marker. The older brother overseeing the activity is completely optional. word building word families with magnets supplies

 

Add a few strips of masking tape on your cookie sheet.Write the word families you want to work on with your child. You can do a few or stick to just one. Here is a list of the 37 most common word families. word building with magnets

Take a few moments to have your child sound out the word families for you to make sure that this activity will be challenging but not impossible. When we give children challenges they grow but if we give them impossible tasks we end up discouraging them and sending them the message that learning is too hard for them. word building with magnets

 

Add a bunch of letter magnets ( I had 3 packs available) and help your child do the first modeling sounding out the word family and then adding the first sound and sounding out the word again.  Then let them at it.word building with word families

She started adding the magnets then sounding them out with her brother overseeing under strict instructions “To let her do it herself.” Sometimes she’d add one that didn’t make sense, he’d shake his head ,  and she’d just remove it and try with another letter. After a few letters he declared he wasn’t needed and left. I left words that she sounded out but might not know the definition of like pall. Even though should couldn’t tell me what a pall was she was sounding out the words correctly so I decided to leave it be. When kids are a little older I would ask is that a real word? Then ask them to look it up to find out.word building with letter magnets

I am so happy I caught this picture. After she made a word it was so amazing to her she turned to me saying ” Mama I did it again!” as if the other times were just flukes. I LOVE moments like this when kids take ownership of their abilities. She KNEW she could do it at that moment and continued to build the rest of the words.word building learning is fun

We will do this again soon with a few of these word families and mix in one or two new ones. Remember kids love repetition, it feels good to know what to expect and it gives them a chance to master something.word building with magnets and cookie sheets

 

Recycled Robot Craft inspired by The Ricky Ricotta Books by Dav Pilkey

robot craft for kids I love books.  More than my love of books is my love of getting KIDS to love books, especially my own kid. Before I share how we made this super rad robot inspired by Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta Mighty Robot series of books, I need to tell you that this post was sponsored by Scholastic.  I am so glad that the publisher sent me these books because my son loved them. LOVED. So much that we decided to make a shiny recycled robot craft that reminded us of the shiny full color pages of these awesome books. The whole book is beautiful and I really think those silky full color pages made reading the book even more enjoyable for my son.

Gather your materials. You will need some recycled materials. I save anything that looks interesting so I had some ribbon spools, plastic lids, card board, crusher lids, etc… you will also need metallic paint, a hot glue gun, and something to protect the surfaces you are working on.

ricky ricotta mighty robot supplies

Start by spray painting some of the recycled materials. When you read the books you will see that the Robot is really shiny so my son and I decided we needed to get really shiny silver paint. You might want gloves for this too. My nails are still silver.ricky ricotta silver robot

When dry gather all your pieces and plug in the hot glue gun ( ours is a low temp one) robotricky ricottaand let your robot builder go nuts!robot craft

He has inherited my love ( need?) of symmetry. At one point he was asking me where I think he should put something and when I suggested something asymmetrical he responded with ” Um I don’t think so, that would wreck the symmetry! ” OK then.

I think the robot turned out to be pretty awesome, well worth the days and days of silver spray painted hands ( seriously use gloves!)

robotoooo

 

About The Books!

RickySeries

Ricky Ricotta Series by Dav Pilkey illustrated by Dan Santat

These early chapter books are about a little mouse Ricky who is not the most popular mouse. He gets picked on at school until he ends up saving Robot’s life and the two of them become best friends! You’d think that with a giant robot as a best buddy a little mouse might let it go to his head. Ricky is a good mouse through and through and as the series continues he and Robot continue to save Squeakyville from all sorts of evil.

When my son and I snuggled up in bed to read the first book I did most of the reading. The books themselves are below my son’s reading level ( The series is listed as DRA 20 )  but reading levels are not the only things parents need to consider. Do you always read at your maximum reading ability? I can guarantee that I do not. Reading for pleasure isn’t always challenging. We flew through the first book and he begged me to read the next. I read it then left him the other two books and told him he could stay up as long as he was reading. Less than half an hour later he came downstairs to ask me if we had the 5th book! He’d read the other two books immediately. My son is a great reader but he doesn’t LOVE reading fiction, so his desire to read more more more was huge. I was THRILLED.dav pilkey bo

When I asked him what he loved about these books he said the illustrations by Dan Santat were amazing, the cool features like comics and flip book in the middle , and how quick they were for him to read. Patience is not something most 7 year old boys have in spades so I get that. The illustrations really are awesome but I want to let you know that the whole book is full color. The book is really beautiful , seriously every page feels special. I have already been telling friends in real life about how these are great early chapter books for reluctant ( and not reluctant) readers and I am thrilled to share it here too.

Visit the Ricky Ricotta Official Site
Learn more about author Dav Pilkey
Follow Scholastic and ScholasticTeach on Twitter
Like Scholastic Parents and Scholastic Teachers on Facebook

As stated above this post was sponsored by Scholastic.