I always like free books. If you have a voracious reader you likely are constantly looking for cheap and free books as well. If you have ever taken a look into public domain books, you may end up spending loads of time trying to find appropriate books for your boy.
We are here to help and have put together a list of authors and books boys enjoyed a century or more ago. This does not mean your son, born 100 years after these were popular, will enjoy the books. But I think it is worth a try!
But first, here are some things to keep in mind about older, public domain books.
Based on interest level, they will likely be a higher reading level than today’s books.
Subject matter may be less politically correct than you are comfortable with or used to. However, many books of today are based on war, hate and revenge. It is just that public domain books may be losly based on actual people groups and events. So explanations may be needed.
The books will read differently than today’s books. Less magic and created worlds. Typically they will be loosely based on stories of real people and real events, but are often embellished so do not take these books as actual history. Instead, if your son really enjoyed one of the books, then use that to look into the real people and events.
Sooo, if you are still interested to get you started here are a few authors and books to check out:
Percy Keese Fitzhugh wrote several books about boys in the Boy Scouts. Remember that the Boy Scouts originally were for teen boys, so don’t expect the characters in these books to be young boys. You can check out his public domain books on Guttenberg Press here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/2132
Dime Novels (actually cost $2.50/year for one book a week) were written specifically for middle and young high school boys. But again, these books were often written for boys who were in their teens. So again, recognize that the reading levels may be more difficult than expected. Also, the layout of these books (if you get copies of originals rather than text conversion) are very “dense” as compared to today’s books. This may be difficult at first.
Here are some books from a series called Beadle’s Boy’s Library of Sport, Story and Adventure
Vol. I, No. 1. Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood by Pentriss Ingraham. Download it here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15583 His author page has a few other books for boys and can be found here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/6139
Thomas Mayne Reid wrote several Beadle’s Boy’s Library books and was a favorite author of a young Teddy Roosevelt. His Gutenberg author page with dozens of his books is here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/6260
The Lost City by Badger, Jos. E. Badger (Joseph Edward) found here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/783
Harbaugh, T. C. (Thomas Chalmers) has two books on Gutenberg, though I am not sure if they are from Beadle’s Boy’s Library. You can see his books here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/36351
Old Grizzly Adams, The Monarch of the Mountains, by Frank Powell was very difficult to locate online. I found it, but thought it would be easier to upload the PDF version of it. If you print it on 81/2 X 11 paper, both sides, your son should be able to read it just fine. Online text versions are poorly translated and not very readable. You can download a scan in PDF here: old_grizzly_adams
Four Fellow Scouts, by J. Stanley Henderson can also be downloaded in PDF here: four fellow scouts
Enjoy! And there will be more links to come.