My Son Offers His Favorite Book Picks for Read Across America

I asked my son to share some of his favorite books, in honor of this week’s Read Across America — the National Education Association’s annual celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and the excitement of reading. Here’s what he picked, along with his reasons for doing so.

My son is now 10, and plowing through young adult fare like there’s no tomorrow (although we try to steer him towards the younger young adult books as much as we can), but he threw in a picture book below that clearly made an impression a few years back, as well as a few graphic novels. His comments are in quotations; my own are in brackets.

  • The Raft, by Jim LaMarche: “It’s really well drawn and it has an awesome plot.”
  • The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Book 4): “It’s very well written and it has almost all the different kinds of literature in it — fiction, fantasy, comedy, mystery. It’s technically even partially a non-fiction book — it teaches you about the Greek gods.”
  • The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook: “I like it because I enjoy science quite a lot. This book is overall a very good book and it has inspired me further.” [This has been a favorite for several years; he was so taken with it at first that I was inspired to write a review myself, even though I usually stick to LGBT-related fare. It revolves around three friends — a self-professed nerd, a tough girl, and a jock — who find a common love of science and help save their town from an evil scientist. Great for inspiring an interest in STEM subjects, but also deals with issues of bullying and friendship.]
  • Doraemon: Gadget Cat from the Future, Vol. 1: “Two words: insanely funny.” [The Doremon books are a Japanese graphic novel series from the 1970s. The English versions, as I understand, were created to help Japanese children who are learning English. My spouse brings them back for our son when she goes on business trips to Japan. The stories revolve around a 10-year-old boy who is often the target of bullies, but who is helped by a cat-shaped robot from the future. I find them a little sophmoric, in the vein of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but that’s probably only because I’m no longer 10 years old. If they help our son get a glimpse of another culture, however small, I can’t complain.]
  • The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 1 (Tintin in America / Cigars of the Pharaoh / The Blue Lotus): “It has its fair share of funny moments and is always going heavy on the action.” [This was a gift book. I'm a little ambivalent about Tintin myself. I love the action and mystery. The archaic views about non-Western cultures, not so much — but the books do give us a reason to discuss such prejudices, which can be useful.]
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “I like it because it is filled with comedy and action and is the first book in a very, very good series.”

I’m especially thrilled that he’s now reading the Harry Potter series. We read the first three books to him when he was much younger, but stopped when they got darker. He picked them up again on his own, though, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I reread the series every few years, myself — I’m not sure if I’m more impressed by J.K. Rowling’s world-building or her unparalleled sense of adolescence and its discontents. I can think of no better literary companions for my son as he transitions from childhood into young adulthood than Harry and his friends.

What are your kids reading these days?

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