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Customer Discussions > Juvenile Fiction forum

Realistic Fiction for 10 year old boy - advanced reader

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Showing 1-25 of 32 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 18, 2009, 5:46:17 PM PDT
J.Prather says:
My son is just turning 10 and really likes realistic fiction - none of the fantasy stuff. He's read alot, so the obvious choices (Clements, Diary of a Wimpy KId) are out. Anyone got any ideas?

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2009, 12:40:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 19, 2009, 12:40:33 AM PDT
Boric says:
If he's an advanced reader for his age he might enjoy books like CS Forester's Hornblower series.

In terms of historical fiction, a lot of boys really like Rosemary Sutcliff--The Eagle of the Ninth, The Lantern Bearers etc, but some of her books, like Simon (and probably The Lantern Bearers) are definitely aimed at an older reading level, while retaining content suitable for younger readers.

Gillian Bradshaw has also written some good historical fiction that would be suitable for a young reader with good skills, eg The Sand Reckoner, Island of Ghosts and The Bearkeeper's Daughter.

He doesn't like Fantasy, but what about science fiction? Orson Scott Card's Enders Game is very good.

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2009, 3:44:18 PM PDT
S. Herring says:
I agree, the Hornblower series will definitely be great for him. Also Winnetoe by Karl May, and what about A Boy in War? I think he'll relate to that and enjoy that too!

Posted on May 20, 2009, 5:09:24 PM PDT
jd says:
A few recommendations off the top of my head (f.y.i. most of these are historical realistic fiction):

Holes--he's probably already read this. If not, it's outstanding. One of the most perfectly-plotted books I've ever read. And it's mostly contemporary. The main characters are teenagers, but it doesn't have any inappropriate content for younger kids. There is violence, but very little and mostly of the fistfights-between-boys variety.

Deathwatch by Robb White--an exciting life or death adventure in the desert as a teenage boy is pursued by a deadly hunter. Written for teens, and it does have some violence, but nothing too graphic. It's a tense, exciting adventure story.

Bud, nod Buddy and The Watsons go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Curtis is one of the major talents to emerge in children's fiction in the past few years. His books are a rich blend of humor, pathos, warmth, danger, historical detail and sharp characterization. Their main characters have such strong and well-concieved voices and personalities. I've read very few adult novels written better than these. Both are historical, but both are absolutely outstanding. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Dragonwings by Lawrence Yep is another very good historical novel--it seems to start slowly, but once it gets going it's absolutely packed full of plot and excitement.

The My Name is America series has a few good titles. Many are written by well-known authors. Each is a fictional diary of a boy who lived during some important era in American history.

A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago are funny, quirky historical novels with a priceless Grandmother character. Your son may prefer A Long Way since it features a brother and sister. Year Down Yonder focuses on the sister.

Number the Stars is another realistic historical novel where the main character is a girl, but if your son can get past that (I know, many boys can't), it's a really exciting adventure story fraught with danger involving the Danish resistance during World War II. It also has moving messages about tolerance and loyalty. A great read.
I hope your son hasn't read all of these, and if he does try them, I hope he enjoys them. Stop by your local library and pick some up. You'll probably be able to find all of them. Enjoy!

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2009, 8:54:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 20, 2009, 8:54:55 PM PDT
Kate Coombs says:
How realistic? What about the Alex Rider spy stories by Anthony Horowitz? Another book I really like is Alabama Moon by Watt Key. It's partly a survival story and is a new favorite of mine. A classic survival story is Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, and an older one along those lines is My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Another thought is the historical suspense books by Leon Garfield, e.g., Footsteps (probably out of print, so try the library).

Some of the biographies and other nonfiction books available these days are also really wonderful--The Trouble Begins at 8 is a new biography of Mark Twain by Sid Fleischman, for example, or there's The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlansky or Oh Rats! The Story of Rats and People by Albert Marrin.

Posted on May 21, 2009, 10:24:13 AM PDT
J.Prather says:
Thanks to all for your suggestions! I now have a new list to work from. He has read some of these but there are definately alot that I had not thought of! Thanks again.

Posted on Jun 13, 2009, 1:14:36 PM PDT
Kathy says:
By the way, if your son does read Dragonwings by Yep and wants to read more there are several books in this series. Here they are in order: The Serpent's Children 1849; Mountain Light 1855; Dragon's Gate 1867; The Traitor 1885; Dragonwings 1903; Dragon Road 1939; Child of the Owl 1965; Sea Glass 1970; Thief of Hearts 1995. He might also try books by: Mildred Taylor; Theodore Taylor; Scott O'Dell; Gary Paulsen; Jean Fritz; James Collier; Robert Newton Peck.

Posted on Jun 13, 2009, 3:29:00 PM PDT
C. Pawloski says:
Carl Hiaasen, if he hasn't read them already.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2009, 8:01:43 PM PDT
Belle Bright says:

I am a children's writter. I have an adventure series that I think your son would really like. You can read some of the inside of my book, "Beyond The White Abyss." Just go to Belle Bright or click on the title of the book at https://amazon.com. I also have three other books in the same series. "The Treasure The Cave & The Castle." and "The Trail of the Wolf Call."
I hope you will look at my blog on amazon books.

Author Belle Bright

Posted on Jun 18, 2009, 8:55:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2009, 8:57:34 AM PDT
C. L. Strand says:
Sign of the Beaver
Black Storm Comin'
Forgotten Fire
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of WWII by Joseph Bruchac

Also I love Gary Blackwood... The Shakespeare Stealer and Year of the Hangman are excellant.

Posted on Jun 26, 2009, 1:10:08 PM PDT
HMS Ralph says:
I am the author of a great (if I do say so myself!) Civil War novel for teens entitled "Echoes of Andersonville." It's about a little-known fact of the war-the infamous Southern prison in Andersonville, Georgia where more than 13,000 Union soldiers died during their captivity. It's historically accurate and chock full of plenty of action, heartbreak and drama. It's available from Amazon. It's intended for all youth (boys or girls who love history, especially the American Civil War) ages 10-15.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2009, 11:26:52 AM PDT
K. McNamara says:
Cynthia De Felice - Under the Same Sky
Cynthia De Felice - The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whittaker (historical fiction)
Jane Cutler - Song of the Molimo - (historical fiction - 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair)

Posted on Jun 30, 2009, 7:06:10 AM PDT
singing says:
Try the series of Henry Reed books by Keith Robertson. My advanced reader son, who recently turned 11, tore through these a few weeks ago. The main characters are older--eighth grade in the one I read--but since these are older books (pub dates from the 1950s to the 1970s) you do not have to worry about inappropriate material. Henry Reed is the son of a diplomat, and the books are about his adventures when he is home in the US for the summer.

No Talking, The School Story, and Frindle by Andrew Clements are all excellent.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2009, 3:34:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 30, 2009, 3:54:54 PM PDT
Sharon says:
The Cay by Theodore Taylor is historical fiction about a boy and man stranded on a Caribbean island during WWII. Tangerine by Edward Bloor set in present-day Florida is also good that boys would enjoy. Also On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer--about a twelve year old who deals with death of a friend; similar to A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2009, 10:05:26 AM PDT
Read - "Magic Dragster"

A boy helps an old neighbor restore a junior drag racing vehicle, and all heck breaks loose at home over his 40mph racing interests.
Meanwhile his teen sister begins dating a rival JR Dragster who feels too big and too 'hot shot' to still be competing against kids.

Posted on Jul 1, 2009, 3:00:06 PM PDT
BYUSC says:
F. Paul Wilson has some great young adult books. Sometimes they dive into a little Sci-Fi, but for the most part they are detective mysteries. You can see my reviews of some of Wilson's fiction here: http://mgabasahon.blogspot.com/2008/06/one-with-tomb.html

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2009, 5:51:23 PM PDT
Erin says:
Try Swindle, by Gordon Korman. Boys are loving this title at the Library! Lots of humor, real-life pre-teen drama and a heist gone bad! ;) He might also enjoy books by Roland Smith.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2009, 10:32:11 AM PDT
How about Tiger Rising, and the Eco-Adventures from Carl Hiassen - HOot, Flush and Scat? How about the Everest Trilogy and the Island trilogy by Gordon Korman? They're real life adventures and funny and exciting. Or even the young reader's edition of "Three Cups of Tea". Even Cynthia Lord's "Rules" and on a more serious note - Ellen Klages' "Green Glass Sea". If he likes hilarity - try anything from Australian Paul Jennings weirdly funny short stories.

Posted on Jul 11, 2009, 11:55:01 AM PDT
S. Pittman says:
How about the James Patterson books for Children? Maximum Ride Series. The 1st one is "Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment." Then, "School's Out Forever", "Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports", The Final Warning", and "Max." My12yo advanced reader devoured them. You could also try some of the classics. My son read "Gulliver's Travels" in 5th grade, and really liked it.

Posted on Jul 11, 2009, 9:27:10 PM PDT
T. Cooper says:
Try "Schooled" by Gordon Korman. My ten year old loved it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2009, 10:58:14 PM PDT
Stranded: Book One: The Dragon Ship Series

good clean fun, backyard adventure, 10-13 approx. age level, very realistic

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2009, 8:13:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2009, 8:17:16 PM PDT
Belle Bright says:
Belle Bright says:
If your son likes realistic fiction, I have a great series. It is about a boy named Andy who looks for adventure. The Trail of the Wolf Call, is about a boy named, Andy. He has a pocketknife, a rope, a compass, watch, and some rocks. He feels he is prepared to go hunting for a wolf. Little does he know that dangers are lurking all around him and his friend Robert. Andy must use his skills and ingenuity to save them both. Once you begin to read this adventure, you can't put it down until the story is over. Take the challenge. No sex, violence or bad language. You can purchase this book for $9.00 on Amazon.com

Posted on Aug 10, 2009, 9:33:32 PM PDT
Hatchet, Island of the blue dolphins

Posted on Aug 11, 2009, 8:54:04 AM PDT
Hi JP,

Not sure whether you're still checking here, but I'll add my two cents' worth (alright - more like about a dollar-fifty), just in case. And others may benefit from the suggestions as well:

As a fourth grade teacher and an avid reader of children's / YA books, I LOVE both Clements (have read 12 of his chapter books) and the three Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney - very good choices! Wimpy Kid #4 comes out in October, and Clements has a new one coming in April, so your son can look forward to those. Hopefully the following suggestions will be helpful. Check the reviews for more info on any of these authors / titles, or feel free to contact me.

It will take a LONG time to run out of Gary Paulsen titles, and many are just great, with quite a few realistic fiction titles. But be careful of content in some of them - a bit mature in places. My favorites are the Brian books (in order - Hatchet, The River, Brian's Winter, Brian's Return, and Brian's Hunt, with non-fiction companion book Guts), Harris and Me, The Haymeadow, and The Voyage of the Frog. Paulsen has some amazing non-fiction books, dealing with his dogs, and the books read like fiction: Woodsong; My Life in Dog Years; and Puppies, Dogs & Blue Northers. I read Woodsong to my fourth graders every September, and anyone who ever reads this book can never look at dogs in the same way again. I sincerely HOPE you are still reading TO your son (studies say about two years above his reading level is best, though you could vary this) - if so you could read Paulsen's Winterdance to him, substituting the 4-letter words and skipping one or two short sections. Otherwise a book that kids AND adults invariably LOVE (check reviews), of which I've read sections to my fourth graders (WITH substituted words). If your son's "realistic fiction" interest also includes historical realistic, Paulsen's best are probably the five Tucket books (available in one combined edition as Tucket's Travels), Nightjohn (with a bit of slavery violence and gore, but a wonderfully powerful book - sequel is somewhat more "mature"), and Soldier's Heart.

Get a list of Newbery Medal and Honor books (wikipedia) and start reading through those that look good - there are certainly some duds, but this list of the (supposed) best books usually delivers (maybe check Amazon reviews on them first). My favorites include Julie of the Wolves (Jean Craighead George) and The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 (historical - Christopher Paul Curtis). Some of the modern Newberys have tended to be a bit more racy and / or questionable in parts.

I love the four Joey Pigza books (Jack Gantos), starting with Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, with lots of humor, about a boy with ADHD.

Avi is a consistently good author of many genres - if historical fits with your son's interests, there are several great ones, including Crispin: The Cross of Lead (with sequel I haven't read), Beyond the Western Sea (two books, starting with The Escape From Home), and The Secret School (with female protagonist). Windcatcher is a good realistic fiction title.

Will Hobbs has excellent books with a lot of adventure in them - my favorites are Jason's Gold and its sequel (hist. - Alaska Gold Rush), Far North, The Maze, and Jackie's Wild Seattle.

An excellent gem, though out of print and obscure, is Dayton Hyde's book, Strange Companion, in the vein of Hatchet (written before Hatchet) - might try inter-library loan or a used Amazon copy?

If your son is open-minded enough, not minding female protagonists, Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt is great.

Also, if he likes science / nature / animal wildlife / ecology, the books of Jean Craighead George could be great (again, mostly female protagonists). What they sometimes lack in adventure, they make up for with fascinating learning, all meticulously researched. Favorites are Julie of the Wolves and its sequels, also My Side of the Mountain and its sequels (male protagonist), and the Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets (non-fiction short stories of pets her family has had, very entertaining). And many of her picture books are great and jam-packed with great scientific learning, not just "little kid" stuff, often written at a higher reading level - favorites are The Wolves are Back (blew me away), How to Talk to Your Dog, How to Talk to Your Cat, The Hole in the Tree (easy reader, out of print). I wouldn't just start with randomly chosen books by this author - many are VERY slow-paced and are NOT for many readers, though great for others.

Where the Red Fern Grows (set in the 1920s or 30s) is still one of my favorites, the ultimate dog story.

Another great read-aloud that you would want to substitute some of the language (and gloss over a few of the passages) with would be A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, about two unprepared men hiking on the Appalachian Trail. This is an adult bestseller - uproariously hilarious, very interesting (though some of the sidebars move slowly), and one that will open his / your eyes to something new if you've never done backpacking. I've read the first 105 pages to a couple of my fourth grade classes (a turning point in the book - again, somewhat "cleaned up") and am partner-reading it with an advanced 6th grader. I've explained lots of great new vocabulary (not referring to what I've censored).

A VERY useful website for anyone dealing with children's / YA books is:
which lists duos and series books in order, very comprehensive. Be sure to bookmark it before you forget.

Dwight Blubaugh

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2009, 9:11:36 AM PDT
FourWinds says:
Muskie Attack: An Up North Adventure. He'll love it!
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Initial post:  May 18, 2009
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