Rah Rah for RA!: Male Protagonists for Teen Readers

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us.

Hi Ladies!

I loved your Animorph series, and now I’m looking for book recommendations for my son… He’s not an avid reader, but he loved the book “Blood Song” by Anthony Ryan and really likes books with young male protagonists (pretty much from any genre besides romance).  I don’t really like him reading very mature scenes sexually or otherwise (he’s 12) but we’re pretty open minded besides that.

Do you have any recommendations?

Hi! We’re always into encouraging people to read no matter their levels of love for reading. It’s great that he’s open to so many genres, as that gives him lots of room to explore. We’ve put together a few titles that we hope represent a good swath of options!

22443261Book: “The Rithmatist” by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite fantasy authors still writing today. He typically writes adult fantasy, but he also has a few young adult options. “The Rithmatist” is one of these. It’s the story of Joel, a young boy who dreams of being a Rithmatist, a magically trained individual who can use chalk drawings to create a wide spectrum of spells, including making chalk creatures that come to life. But, being the son of a poor family, his chances are few and far between, and he’s forced to watched other students train in his beloved art while he works at the very school he wants to attend. When students start disappearing and magical forces seem to be stirring, Joel and a few friends become caught up in a scheme that stretches beyond their school walls. It’s a fun, action-packed book, and I think Joel is just the sort of character who would appeal to many boys in middle school. I wrote a full review of this book a few years back, so check that out for more insights.

685472Book: “The Black Stallion” by Walter Farley

This is a classic children’s book. But it is also a classic go-to for librarians looking for a book to recommend to reluctant readers. Many a teen and adult will point to this book as one that started off their love of reading. Stories of children and their dogs/horses always seem to be a hit, and combine this one with a shipwreck, survival, and, lastly, sport horse racing, and you have a home run! For young readers who want a book set in the real world and with less fantastic elements, this is a lovely tale of the bond between a horse and a boy. It’s also the first of a long series of books, so if it does turn out to be a favorite, there are a lot more where it came from!

38709._sx318_Book:  “Holes” by Louis Sachar

Another book that was quite well-received when it was published and still holds up well now several years after the fact. This story of a young man who finds himself sent to a juvenile detention center where the punishment is to dig holes. Big ones. Every day. But as Stanley toils, he begins to notice strange things about the caretakers of the camp. Why are the kids digging these holes exactly? The story is a fantastic mystery all told through the extremely humorous narration of the main character. This is a good tale for young readers who enjoy books set in our real world and like to untangle mysteries.

6186357Book: “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

If YA dystopia is what you’re looking for, “The Maze Runner” is sure to scratch that itch. Unlike other similar books, in “The Maze Runner” the protagonist is going in almost as clueless as the reader. Thomas wakes up in a moving lift, and doesn’t remember anything about his life except for his name. He’s deposited in a clearing that is surrounded by an ever changing maze, and with other teenage boys who don’t know where they are or why they are trapped there. The only way out is through the maze, but no one has made it out alive. And then, a girl arrives, apparently the only girl that has ever been there. The group has to work together to figure out if they can escape. Filled with suspense and intrigue, “The Maze Runner” is some heart pounding YA adventure!

50Book: “Hatchet” by Gary Paulson

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be lost in the woods with very little resources, “Hatchet” is basically the go-to book to explore that concept. After Brian is the only survivor of a small plane crash in the wilds of Canada, he is armed with the clothes on his back and a hatchet that his mother gave him before he left on his trip to visit his father. Now he has to find shelter, food, water, and all the resources he will need to survive. As he is left to his own devices and has to find a way to survive, Brian reflects on the life he hopes to return, as well as his insecurities that seem so meaningless now. This is a classic survival story, and one that has entranced readers for years and years!

28954126Book: “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds

Our book club had a session about this book, a contemporary middle grade sports story that addresses family, the past, and trauma. Ghost is a boy who is haunted by memories of his violent father, and the night that his father tried to kill him and his mother. The incident has left him with a lot of pain and a lot of anger, and usually he channels it through basketball. But when he impulsively challenges a track star to a race, and shows just how fast he is, he’s recruited for the team. Ghost has to learn how to be a team player in a sport that he isn’t familiar with, and has to find his passion again as he copes with his past. Reynolds is one of the brightest authors writing today, and his stories are not only very funny at times, they are also filled with pathos and relatability.


4 thoughts on “Rah Rah for RA!: Male Protagonists for Teen Readers”

      1. Ladies, these are awesome recommendations! My son has read all of these! Do you have any other recommendations in the fantasy genre with a male protagonist?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha oh no! The problem often run into when looking for books for kids who already love to read! We’ll think of some more and maybe add them to the comments here in a bit! Off the top of my head, I might recommend the “Gone” series by Michael Grant. He helped write the Animorph books. This series has some similarities in being about a bunch of kids, this time in a city where adults suddenly disappear and some kids end up with powers. The series does have some creepy scenes and darker story lines, probably about in line with the Animorph books. – S


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