We Recommend: Nice Boys, for a 6-Year-Old

It’s We Recommend! In which we post a request that's been sent to us, and do our best to get that person the right book. Know a kid who needs a book to read? Send us (thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com) his or her likes, dislikes, favorites, quirks, and any other reading information that might be helpful, and we will think on it, and pose it to our oh-so-helpful readers. And look in the comments—all the best recommendations are there.

An interesting…well, I won't say conundrum, because it's not, but it certainly will get you thinking about gender and books and stereotypes and bravery, if you're that sort of reader.

See, we got the following lovely email:

For our almost 6-year-old boy Sam we're looking for books that show boys being wise, intuitive, and brave. He is naturally attracted to the qualities in many books written for girls, and we feel he is not being exposed to enough wise, intelligent, kind and brave boys.

Some books he's loved in the past: 
Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy (by David Soman, Jacky Davis)
The Children of Noisy Village (by Astrid Lindgren)
Fairyopolis: A Flower Fairies Journal (by Glen Bird Liz Catchpole and Cicely Mary Barker)
– We Are in a Book (Mo Willems)

Six-year-old Sam seems to like: nature. fairies. the outdoors. fun. insects.

I agree with him—these are all good things. And while there is a tiny bit of hesitation in me regarding the idea of such a purposeful read, I am fairly sure that this hesitation is reflexive and purposeless. So I will say that the very first book I thought of is the oh-so-wonderful Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White, which has the most brave, kind, wise and intelligent boy of all. AND it has nature. And magic! And swans.

But then I thought it might be too old, even as a read aloud? Is it too long? Would it be too much? Would Stuart Little be better, as it is much more episodic? But Stuart Little doesn't seem to match the young man in quite the same way. 

And then I thought: insects! Perhaps James and the Giant Peach, one of the greatest books in the world? But what about the two aunts getting squished flat so early on, and their terrible cruelty?

Oh dear, oh dear, it seemed like I would know, but maybe I won't know? A great read aloud, that's magical and kind and outdoors. Readers: I must return to my heart of hearts, and simply ask you to correct me in the comments, where you can put in a whole bunch of other books that make more sense. And truly, it is oh so wonderful.


16 thoughts on “We Recommend: Nice Boys, for a 6-Year-Old

  1. I’m a fan of the Library Mouse series (the mouse is a boy mouse). Rainbow Fish books are also good (although seemingly gender neutral). Diamond introduced our family to Akimbo, which are super read alouds. And how about good old Frog and Toad or other Lobel books like Small Pig?
    Hope that helps. As usual, Diamond has a great suggestion as does Els.


  2. Seconding the My Father’s Dragon books. Adding Babe the Gallant Pig (which is surprising gentle especially if your first exposure is the movie although there are still some scary parts: the sheep rustlers and the death of Maa). My 5yo also likes the No 1 Car Spotter books and The Stories Julien Tells (and the books about his younger brother Huey). We haven’t read the Stuart books by Sarah Pennypacker yet but Looove her Clementine books. And last but not least: Henry Huggins.


  3. I love Diamond’s suggestions, and I’ll also go out on a limb and recommend the Henry and Mudge early reader books. There are bunches of them, and they are just the gentlest books about a boy named Henry. Both my boys loved having them read to them (even though they’re really easy!) even as they got closer to ten years old!


  4. Second Trumpet of the Swan! Depending on his attention span for chapter books, here are some favorites of my son at that age (and me!): James and the Giant Peach, and the lesser-known but absolutely wonderful Danny the Champion of the World (condones pheasant poaching); My Father’s Dragon; Henry Huggins; Frog and Toad, Owl at Home, and Grasshopper on the Road. And for non-human creatures that are wise, intuitive, and brave, the Finn Family Moomintroll.


  5. I second the fantastic Danny the Champion of the World – such a great depiction of a close father/son relationship! I also recommend Kevin Henkes’ The Year of Billy Miller, a lovely story about a second grade boy learning to believe in himself – with a sweet supportive family.


  6. The above are great suggestions! I also like Jacqueline Jules’ Freddie Ramos series. A young boy gets super-fast sneakers. And contemplates how best to use his powers. In beginning readers.


  7. Read Aloud ideas:
    “The Wheel On The School” by Meindert DeJong
    We have a Chinaberry audio book of that story and it is just beautiful!
    “Ronia The Robber’s Daughter” by Astrid Lindgren
    Ronia is the main character, but her friend Birk is very important to the story too.
    “Wolf Story” by William McCleery is just lovely


  8. The first thing that came to mind was Amos and Boris, though the characters are animals, and I haven’t read it since I was a kid, so I have no idea if it holds up.
    Suggestions about which I am more sure: Beverly Cleary:
    Ralph S. Mouse/Mouse on a Motorcycle etc. Both the mouse and the boy are noble.


  9. Aw. Thanks! My parents were HUGE William Steig fans for read loads when I was in early elementary school.


  10. My first instinct was “Tales of My Father’s Dragon,” as so many other suggested.
    I would also recommend “Emmet’s Pig” by Mary Stolz. I have a copy from the 1970’s that is still cherished.


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