By Jean Lee Latham
A classic piece of historical fiction, this is the true-to-life, brilliantly woven tale of Nat Bowditch, son of a sea captain, and compiler of The American Practical Navigator, a book of high sea navigation still in use today. Educational and engrossing all at once, one of the favorite historical novels of my childhood.
By Gene Stratton Porter
An all-time favorite in the Clarkson home, this is Porter’s tale of a thin but doughty orphan dubbed “Freckles,” whose grit and daring get him a job as the guard of the valuable timber in the “Limberlost.” Challenged by the timber-stealing Black Jack, and smitten with the grace and verve of the “Swamp Angel,” Freckles is a boy who does not flinch, his strength of mind and good heart helping toward the goal of doing his job and discovering his past.
By Marguerite Henry
A classic tale of a horse and his boy by a writer who knew and loved to write about horses, this book follows the story of how a boy named Justin, and the horse he raised, created the new breed of the Morgan saddle horse. Based on a true story.
By Esther Forbes
An outstanding novel of the Revolutionary War, this story of a young silversmith apprentice named Johnny, delves into the causes surrounding the American Revolution, introducing child readers to the history and culture of those times through the story of one boy’s adventures. This is truly history in a story.
By Ralph Moody
Based on a true story, this first title in the “Little Britches” series offers a glimpse into life in pioneer times in Colorado, a taste of the hard, wind-bitten work of making a good existence in a new land, the struggle of it, but also the sweetness that comes with love, family, and endurance. Great theme of a father/son relationship and based on Moody’s memories, this is a great series for boys. I like to think of it as the boy’s rough equivalent to the “Little House on the Prairie Series,” with Moody’s boy hero as the pioneer counterpart to Laura Ingalls Wilder.
This is Pyle’s medieval tale of the wise and faithful Otto, son of a German warlord, a boy with a strong conscience who is taken captive by his father’s enemy. Caught up in a world of revenge, war, and battle, Otto endures through it to become a man revered for his wisdom and peace and his silver hand. Great, classic drama with Pyle’s matchless illustrations.
By Sterling North
The charming story of an eleven-year-old boy and the raccoon who becomes his boon companion in escapades galore, but also in the hard work of learning to say goodbye when it is time. Based on the author’s own childhood in Wisconsin, this boyhood memoir offers readers a taste of what North himself called “a better era.”
Rarely have we so enjoyed a summer read-aloud as The Summer of the Monkeys. By Wilson Rawls, the beloved author of Where the Red Fern Grows, this is the rollicking tale of a boy who discovers a gang of escaped circus monkeys in the woods behind his house and takes them on in a tale of adventure, compassion, and boyish fun.
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson’s historical adventure novel about a brave boy on his way to knighthood during the War of the Roses. When a black arrow flies through a castle window with a note promising an arrow for four more of the castle residents, including Dick’s uncle, a mystery begins in which Dick begins to question his father’s mysterious death. Forced to escape after a confrontation with his uncle, Dick eventually encounters “The Black Arrow,” a mysterious outlaw. Great historical drama, classic portrayals of nobility and courage. The Scribner’s edition has illustrations by the matchless N.C. Wyeth.
By Elizabeth George Speare
One of my favorite’s of Speare’s novels (and she has several great ones), this story of Daniel, a young boy who witnesses his father’s cruel death at the hands of the Romans, comes back to me still. Living with outlaws, struggling with his hate, Daniel meets a curious new rabbi, a strange teacher named Jesus who takes his turmoil and begins to teach him about… forgiveness. (Caution: Daniel’s father meets a cruel death by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.)
By: Mark Twain
Twain’s classic tale of two boys, one a prince, one a beggar, who switch roles for a day… or a few more as it happens. Told with Twain’s usual wit and vivacity, the story follows the growth of the two boys as their minds expand with the exploration of their new worlds, teaching them how to better live, and rule, within their own.
By Elizabeth George Speare
Another favorite by Speare, this is a grand boy’s book about a young boy left to fend for himself in early Colonial days when his family leaves him for a brief time. Befriended by a local tribe of Indians, the boy learns to survive in the woods by following their ways, and grows to love their fellowship. Torn between awaiting his family’s return and following the tribe, he must learn to weigh the hard questions of loyalty, survival, and faith.