I need a book to get for my nephew (13, developmentally delayed)

Okay, no problems finding books for his siblings for Christmas - I am, after all, a librarian, which means I have great contacts - but I can never figure out what the hell to get my nephew. He supposedly reads somewhere around a 4th or 5th grade level, but I don’t know if he reads for pleasure or not. (I don’t have as much contact with the kids as I ought to.)

I asked our children’s room librarians for help and I’m skimming through the books they showed me, but I think they’re way, way out of whack. (Frankly I think the vocabulary in these books marked for 9 year olds is more appropriate for the older boy at 14, and even then I’m not sure. These kids aren’t voracious readers like I was at that age and I don’t know that any of the three of them would keep going through a book they found difficult at first glance. Which means that when I try to think of the stuff I read at that age it’s all totally wrong.)

I often get him joke books or Eyewitness-type things, which are I supposed well received, but I have a hard time picking them out too. I’d like to get fiction or at least more thoughtful nonfiction because he’s getting older and there’s no reason why his disability should cut him off from a lifetime love of reading, you know? But I have absolutely no clue what to get him. I’m not even all that great at getting books for boys in general.

The only things I can think of that he definitely likes are humor and animals.

Oh, and need answer fast!

Does he like comic books or superheroes? I’m trying to entice my younger nephew as he’s learning to read by giving him Incredibles books, which are about $10 and targeted for 8 and up (above my nephew’s age, but it’s stuff he wants to read). There are also others, such as Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius.

They’re at least engaging, and if he’s interested in them it’ll probably lead into reading other stuff.

Do they still make the Choose Your Own Adventure series? I remember reading something a few years ago that they were reissuing them. I loved them when I was 8-9, and provided he doesn’t have certain issues (forgetting what page to turn to before he gets there, for example, or easily transposing numbers) they should go over pretty well.

There’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham, a fairly funny book about a black family in the 1960s with a trippy scary ending. It’s excellent. There’s The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, really good fantasy. I’ve read the latter to my second-grade students, and another second-grade teacher has read the former to hers, so the vocabulary is at least appropriate as a read-aloud.

Choose Your Own Adventure are definitely still out there, but they might be pretty young for him.

If he likes animals, though, what about a beautifully-illustrated book about, say, marine animals or large predators? He might enjoy skimming the pictures, and might struggle to read captions for especially compelling pictures.

That’s usually what I get (photo books with some text) but I was thinking he ought to be old enough to enjoy something more wordy.

Choose Your Own Adventure might be good. I don’t think they’re aware of any comic book stuff except for the movies.

The Dangerous Book for Boys can be enjoyed by virtually any boy at any stage of development. He can thrill to the St. Crispin’s Day speech or learn to build a catapult or turn boogers into invisible ink; there’s something for everyone!

Another good bet is the Boy Scout Handbook. When he turns 15, get him The Big Damn Book of Sheer Manliness.

I thought about the Dangerous Book for Boys, but frankly given the quality of supervision they have at that house I’m not sure if that (normally quite safe) volume is a good idea.

Any suggestions for comic books/graphic novels for a kid who isn’t superhero savvy past the movie versions?

Some of them are the movie versions – such as this Incredibles one, which I got for my nephew.

And if not superheros, there are also a lot of Star Wars comic collections aimed at younger readers… Clone Wars tie-ins, I think. You could probably get some good suggestions just calling up a few local comic book stores, and asking for recommendations.

uncle john bathroom readers, or the old standby… D’Aulaires’ Book of Myths

I, of course, have to make the shameless recommendation of the Babymouse series. (And even though it’s pink, it’s not just for girls.) Other good series include** Lunch Lady,** Frankie Pickle, and Johnny Boo.

And actually, he would probably love Axe Cop. It’s a comicwritten by a 5-year-old, and drawn by his 29-y.o. brother, a professional comic book artist. It’s probably the greatest achievement in comic books in the last year, IMO. The trade paperback (collecting all the online episodes) comes out in 2 days.

I don’t know how funny it is, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about Frindle by Andrew Clements. It’s usually recommended to grade schoolers. But it came out when I was 15 and I’ve always thought it looked like fun. I may just read it someday:


I have a 12 year old who tests reading at 3rd grade level. The lunch lady graphic novels are fun.


Missile Mouse is good, too.

I heartily concur with the graphic novels mentioned. And one of the all time best, especially for boys who may not read for pleasure, is this one, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.. A friend of mine, a reading specialist at my school, is using it with her 5th grade small group of struggling readers. I’m using it with my 3rd grade AIG students. Really, really terrific book.

How about some cartoon books, like Peanuts or Calvin & Hobbes? My 10-yr-old likes the Foxtrot collections, but those may be a higher reading level.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Hilarious and easy to follow.

I know it’s too late for Christmas, but for next time, if your nephew has a specific interest, a book of facts about that subject would probably have a series of short entries (and probably illustrations) rather than a longer story line that might discourage him.
If you’re not sure what he’s currently in to, most boys I’ve known around that age are interested in anything gross. My nephew’s not a big reader and he loves “Oh, Yikes!: History’s Grossest Moments” and “Oh Yuck! An Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty.”

Calvin and Hobbes

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is loads of fun.

Graphic novels might be a good place to start.
toadspittle that Axecop looks pretty good. Thanks!

Those books are really hard to find in real life, that I’ve found. I’ve wanted to give them a whirl for a few years, but would have to nickel and dime myself via Ebay for them or drop a huge wad for the entire set. It looks wonderfully fun.

Sorry, I made a mistake. I was thinking of : Horrible Science and Blood Curling Box

What about John Bellairs? I’m not sure what the official reading level for his books are, but I first read his books in fourth grade. I’m rereading the Curse of the Blue Figurine (both for fun and for an upcoming book talk I’m giving in a few weeks). It’s definitely at a higher level than, say, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so it might fall into one of those books you mentioned marked for 9 year olds but that has much higher vocab.

Also, what about the Bunnicula books? They’re books about a vampire bunny, and while a thirteen year old boy might think they’re not really cool, they’re actually pretty easy to read but they’re also very witty. I’ve reread them as an adult and been really impressed.

One other thought was Goosebumps books. I know R.L. Stine is doing a Horrorland series that’s linked to Goosebumps as well. They’re not exactly high literature, as I’m sure you know, but they’re pretty easy to read and fun and pretty boy friendly.

ETA: Just realized this was a Christmas present thread so my suggestions may be a little bit too late coming…