Public Domain Dime Novel Books for Boys

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:

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: His author page has a few other books for boys and can be found here:

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:

The Lost City by Badger, Jos. E. Badger (Joseph Edward) found here:

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:

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.


10 Mind Expanding Questions to Ask While Reading Out Loud

timmy_paReading out loud to our sons is great for bonding and enjoying common experiences. We know it develops vocabulary, increases listening skills, facilitates bonding and so much more.

But did you know you can supercharge his “mind expansion” by asking the right questions? Here are 10 questions to ask your child during or after reading a book which will help develop and grow not only his vocabulary and listening skills, but also help expand his mind.

  1. Using the cover art, the teaser text, the inside flap and introduction, what do you think this book will be about? What led you to that conclusion?
  2. How is the author telling us this story, from what or whose point of view?
  3. What do we know about the main character and why do we know this about him/her?
  4. Is the author setting us up to think something might happen, and if so, what in his writing leads you to believe that?
  5. What mistakes and what wise choices has the main character made and are they deserving of criticism or respect?
  6. What does the author mean when he/she uses a certain word/phrase/sentence? Why do you think the author use this word/phrase/sentence instead of some other description, explanation, etc.?
  7. How is the world the book characters lives in different from my world?
  8. How would you solve the problem the characters find themselves in?
  9. What was the plot of this book and how is this book different from other books we have read in this genre?
  10. Why do you think the author chose to tell this story, does the author have a bias or strong opinion that is coming through in the book?

Keep these questions handy and use them. But beware, your child might start thinking more independently and much deeper than his peers. This may cause problems with his teacher who may try keeping him quiet during book discussion time!

Special Reading Nooks

Not all boys want a special place to read, but for some it can be very helpful in motivating them to read, in setting up a good routine and lowering distractions. (But for some it can become a distraction, so be wise.)

I went on Pinterest and took a look at the reading nooks that people are pinning but found many were over the top and elaborate. Built in units, converted closets and outside converted sheds all seemed like a bit much to me.

I wanted something that was quick and easy and could be made with materials around the house as I figured that was what a parent would actually do! Most of us are not going to build something elaborate.

Then I realized something. Boys love to build simple forts. Why not let your son build a simple fort and make it his reading nook?

I assume your son is more than experienced with building inside forts, so I will let that up to your and his imagination. For outside forts I put together a few suggestions. I am sure you son will be more creative than me. Here is what I came up with in a few minutes on a walk around my  backyard:

I used an old sheet, lawn chairs, lawn chair cushion, table, tacks and a few rocks. Quick and easy!

It may be fun on a warm evening to allow him to read out in his fort with a lantern!

I would love to know what ideas you have. Go ahead and post them below.

If you want, you can check out my Pinterest Board featuring some reasonable Reading Nooks here: Boy Friendly Reading Nooks

Fun Bookmarks for Boys

One of the consequences of a female dominated world is that many of the “reading” materials are centered around girls. But don’t let that stop you from finding great boy “stuff” for your reader!

I started a pinterest board to highlight bookmarks a boy would use. If you know of some other great bookmarks let us know below!

Check out the pinterest board:
Bookmarks for Boys


Meet J Arthur Moore


Author J. Arthur Moore standing in his home by many of the books he read as a child.

J. Arthur Moore, husband, father, grandfather, teacher, historian, model train set collector, book collector, helpful neighbor, photography enthusiast, and author!

After contacting Mr. Moore (Joel) and asking him if he could send me some information so I can highlight his “boy” books on our site he invited me to his home. I have to admit, I really enjoyed my morning with Joel. As fellow educators we had loads to talk about, not the least of which was our love for getting boys to read.

Joel was a gracious host. He is a retired History teacher but still has a real passion for getting kids into knowing about and understanding history so it will come as no surprise that his 6 books all combine great stories that are engaging and filled with researched history.

While at his house Joel showed me volume after volume of manuals and books compiled from first hand accounts of the civil war. I am pretty sure you could wallpaper a house with the maps and letters he has accumulated. All of which went into providing details to assure accurate historical fiction. But don’t let that scare you from getting his books. They are very fun to read and mostly teach history “on the sly.” Joel has a particular interest in the boys who fought during the civil war. I was shocked when he shared that more than 250,000 boys, aged 17 and under fought in the Civil War.


J. Arthur Moore even has books his father and grandfather read.

Joel also combined another of his beloved hobbies with his books. He enjoys photography and all of the pictures in his books are his own. One thing I realized about Joel, he treasures relationships. He spoke of several relationships with his children, grandchildren and even neighbors. He also spoke of several former students that he still keeps up with. So it should come as no surprise that the pictures of the book characters are all individuals that are in some way or form involved with Joel personally.

Along with being an author Joel also runs a few websites and speaks to audiences about his books and also about the boys of the civil war.

Joel was kind enough to give me copies of his 6 books. I asked him if Boys Reading Club could use the books for giveaways after they were reviewed and he said he would be thrilled for us to do that! So keep an eye out for multiple book giveaways coming May 2015!

Here are Author J. Arthur Moore’s books, all of which are great for boys middle school and up. However, they are great books for a father and elementary son to read together. I know both generations would bond over the moving struggles of the main characters.

UPDATE: Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness is now out in a second full color edition. It has also been awarded the bronze medal for fiction-historic-era/period from the Readers’ Favorite book competition.

Also, if  you would like an autographed copy, books can be purchased directly from Joel by contacting him through the website

The first 4 books are a novel in four parts called Journey Into Darkness. They are available as separate books or as one large novel.

On the Eve of Conflict – Readers learn about the Civil War while following 10 year old Southern boy, Duane Kinkade’s experiences. With his father away, Duane, his mother, dog Pounder and friend Jamie must survive a difficult winter. In the spring Duane sets out in search of his father.

Up From Corinth – Now 11, Duane finds himself at the battle of Shiloh. There he comes face to face with the harsh realities of the Civil war. After some hardships he finds himself in the care of the Union Army with his identity being concealed by a surgeon and his young ward who befriend him. Finally as spring comes he begins a trek back to the Confederate Army.

Across the Valley to Darkness – Now 12, Duane finds himself in more difficulty. A rapid chain of events carries him from capture along a snowy road by a renegade band of Union cavalry to near death in a blizzard in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, to Lee’s Army of Norther Virginia in its winter camp around Fredericksburg.

Toward the End of the Search – Turning 13, Duane reunites with his Union friends after the battle of Gettysburg. He witnesses several war campaigns. A letter about his pa sends the veteran of 2 and a half years of war heading home.

All 4 of the above books are also available in one volume  Journey Into Darkness

Other books by J Arthur Moore:

Summer of Two Worlds – Born of pioneer parents, prairie orphaned at three, he was adopted by a Sioux warrior. Among the Sioux he was know as Prairie Cub. The name Michael was all he had of his ancestry. He lived the life of a Sioux warrior’s son until his twelfth summer. When the course of history doomed the Indians’s way of life, his father, Thunder Eagle, realizing his son’s white heritage gave him a chance for a future, sent his son back into the white man’s world.

Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness – Co written by J. Arthur Moore’s grandson, Bryson B. Brodzinski.

Bitter over his father’s death at Shiloh Blake sneaks away from family and friends to get revenge on the Union Army. What he finds will change his life forever.

Here is a video trailer for the updated version of Joel and his grandson’s book:

You can learn more about these books and J. Arthur Moore at these websites:


If you are near the Philadelphia, PA area and would like to contact the author about coming to speak or do a book signing, or if you want to drop him a note email me and I will give you his contact information.

Author of 6 historically accurate books for boys. Enjoy and grow in reading and learn history! Learn more at BoysRead.Club

The Great Value in Reading to Your Elementary Son

Many parents stop reading to their child once he is able to confidently read on his own. But there is great value in continuing to read to your elementary aged son. Here are three values to consider.

Vocabulary – Often boys will want to get to the story and won’t necessarily stop to figure out vocabulary. Yes, eventually they will read the word in different contexts and will figure it out, but they can learn the vocabulary much faster when a parent stops and discusses what a word means. But even if you don’t stop, often children will pick words up easier if it is read to them versus reading it themselves. (This has to do with working memory if you wanted to know.) Plus you will likely be able to read books at a higher comprehension level opening up classics and rich texts.

Comprehension – It is true, some children naturally comprehend well. But other children need direction and all children can benefit from the discipline of asking questions while reading. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Who or what is this about?
  • What is happening to him/her or it?
  • Is there a problem and if yes, what is it?
  • Why does that matter?
  • How can it be solved?
  • What do you think will happen next – are there hints the author is giving us?
  • What can I learn (is there a way to prevent the problem or a better way to handle the problem, does my family subscribe to a set of beliefs that would give me direction in handling this problem, does my faith give me direction in handling this problem?)
  • Does the author have some kind of bias or is he or she expressing assumptions that give us a hint of their beliefs?

reader_2I am going to make a confession here. My children would complain when I would ask questions. They just wanted me to read the story. All of my children, now grown, are great thinkers and all comprehend remarkably well. If I learned anything it was to read all the way through the chapter and ask the questions after, not during the story. But despite their objections the discipline of questioning paid off. Make sure your questions are not just asking for concrete or factual knowledge. Delve into inferences, explore intent, talk about characters strengths and weaknesses, make predictions, draw conclusions at different points of the story and see how your conclusions have changed. Reflect on why you like or dislike the characters, plot, climax, and conclusion.

Bonding – to pass on common experiences, teach values, acknowledge fears and joys, demonstrate your commitment to spending time with your child, give a confidence along with teaching to be resilient, nothing compares to actually spending time with your child. And a high quality way to spend time with your child is to read to them.

So, pick out a good book to read to your older elementary child, sit together and build some memories along with vocabulary, comprehension and bonding. Share, learn and grow together. Sooner or later your son will be too old, so take advantage of these times and read together.

185 Ways to Give Praise

185 Encouraging Words and Phrases to Give Praise to Your Son For Reading and More

  1. A Big Hug To You
  2. A Big Kiss For You
  3. A Plus Job
  4. Awesome
  5. Beautiful
  6. Beautiful Sharing
  7. Beautiful Work
  8. Bingo
  9. Bravo
  10. Creative Job
  11. Dynamic
  12. Dynamite
  13. Excellent
  14. Exceptional Performance
  15. Fab
  16. Fantastic
  17. Fantastic Job
  18. Give them a Big Hug
  19. Good
  20. Good For You
  21. Good Job
  22. Good Learning
  23. Good Planning
  24. Good Thinking
  25. Great
  26. Great Discovery
  27. Great Work
  28. Hip, Hip, Hurray
  29. Hot Dog
  30. How Nice
  31. How Skilful
  32. How Smart
  33. How Supreme
  34. Hurray For You
  35. I Knew You Could Do It
  36. I like the Way You Did That
  37. I Like You
  38. I Love You
  39. I Respect You
  40. I Trust You
  41. I Value You
  42. I’m Proud Of You
  43. Looking Good
  44. Magnificent
  45. Marvelous
  46. Neat
  47. Nice Work
  48. Nothing Can Stop You Now
  49. Now You’re Flying
  50. Now You’ve Got It
  51. Outstanding
  52. Outstanding Performance
  53. Phenomenal
  54. Remarkable
  55. Remarkable Job
  56. Say, “I Love You” – often
  57. Say, “Thank you”
  58. Spectacular
  59. Super
  60. Super Job
  61. Super Star
  62. Super Work
  63. Sweet
  64. Terrific
  65. That is Dazzling
  66. That is Delightful
  67. That is Divine
  68. That is Glorious
  69. That is Glowing
  70. That is Gorgeous
  71. That is Sizzling
  72. That Makes Me Happy
  73. That Makes My Heart Warm
  74. That Will be Famous
  75. That’s Swell
  76. That’s Amazing
  77. That’s Correct
  78. That’s Good Manners
  79. That’s Incredible
  80. That’s Perfect
  81. That’s Remarkable
  82. That’s Right.
  83. That’s the Best
  84. This is a Magic Moment For Me
  85. Way To Go
  86. Well Done
  87. What A Good Listener
  88. What An Imagination
  89. Wonderful sharing.
  90. Wow
  91. You Are Exciting
  92. You Are Fun
  93. You Are Responsible
  94. You Are So Important
  95. You Are So Responsible
  96. You Belong
  97. You Brighten My Day
  98. You Care
  99. You Did That Very Well
  100. You Figured It Out
  101. You Have a Great Sense of Humor
  102. You Have a Wonderful Smile
  103. You Learned It Right
  104. You Made My Day
  105. You Make Me Feel Good
  106. You Make Me Happy
  107. You Make Me Laugh
  108. You Make Me Smile
  109. You Make My Life Complete
  110. You Mean A lot To Me
  111. You Mean The World To Me
  112. You Tried Hard
  113. You Work Hard
  114. You’re a Genius
  115. You’re a Jewel
  116. You’re a Star
  117. You’re A Step Ahead
  118. You’re A Treat
  119. You’re A-1
  120. You’re Admirable
  121. You’re Adorable
  122. You’re Brilliant
  123. You’re Dependable
  124. You’re Dreamy
  125. You’re Enjoyable
  126. You’re Golden
  127. You’re Grand
  128. You’re Impressive
  129. You’re Inspiring
  130. You’re Invigorating
  131. You’re Lovely
  132. You’re My Dream Come True
  133. You’re My Prize
  134. You’re Priceless
  135. You’re Radiant
  136. You’re Ravishing
  137. You’re Really Cool
  138. You’re Reliable
  139. You’re Renowned
  140. You’re Second To None
  141. You’re Smashing
  142. You’re Splendid
  143. You’re Stunning
  144. You’re Thoughtful
  145. You’re Unrivalled
  146. You’re Unsurpassed
  147. You’re A Darling
  148. You’re A Good Friend
  149. You’re A Good Helper
  150. You’re A Joy
  151. You’re A Real Trooper
  152. You’re A Treasure
  153. You’re A Winner
  154. You’re Adorable
  155. You’re A-OK
  156. You’re Beautiful
  157. You’re Caring
  158. You’re Catching On
  159. You’re Exciting.
  160. You’re Fantastic
  161. You’re Getting Better
  162. You’re Growing Up
  163. You’re Important
  164. You’re Incredible
  165. You’re On Target
  166. You’re On Top Of It
  167. You’re On Your Way
  168. You’re One-of-a-Kind
  169. You’re Perfect
  170. You’re Precious
  171. You’re Sensational
  172. You’re So Creative
  173. You’re So Heavenly
  174. You’re So Kissable
  175. You’re So Much Fun
  176. You’re So Sweet
  177. You’re Special
  178. You’re Spectacular
  179. You’re Such a Joy
  180. You’re The Best
  181. You’re Unique
  182. You’re Wonderful
  183. You’ve Discovered The Secret
  184. You’ve Got A Friend
  185. You’ve Hit A Homerun

As originally published in

Help Your Son Develop A Love For Reading

We have heard it over and over, reading is our path to understanding and learning. However, reading is so much more than just gaining academic knowledge. If we only emphasised muscle development as the chief benefit of play, we would be missing so much of what children get from play. Children learn socialization skills, empath, gamesmanship, patience, perseverance, and develop and strengthen certain parts of their brain through play. And so too, reading does so much more than just strengthen academics and develop vocabulary!

caleb_reading_wdadI want boys to realize that reading opens up a wonderful world of friends as well as fun, action, adventure, horror, empathy, understanding and more. Possibilities a boy may never have imagined can be developed while reading. Many a breathtaking journey has been traveled, unchartered areas of the globe discovered, magnificent new friends met, all through reading.

Don’t let you son sit on the sidelines. If he is undisciplined, disinterested or unable to read fluently enough to participate in these wonderful adventures, it is time to take action.

Try one or more of these strategies to help your son develop a love for stories, knowledge and fun contained in books. These strategies will help all boys, but are especially important for reluctant, struggling or disinterested readers.

Expose your son to carefully chosen books. If your child needs to gain weight you would not place dull bland food in front of him. Instead you would fill his plate with wonderful tasting and inviting food. If you desire to entice your child to read you will need to do the same by exposing him to wonderful and inviting books! Not only should you choose well written and well illustrated stories you should also match your child with books that will fill his interests. If your child is a struggling reader, it may mean you will need to spend some time finding books both at his reading and interest level. Which brings me to our next strategy.

DSC_4057Use the libraries and librarians as a great resource. Check with your school and public librarian as they will have access to both interest and reading levels for most books in the library. Trust me, your librarian is used to boys with reading levels below their age (1st grade reading level with 3rd grade interests) and above their reading levels (8th grade reading level, 5th grade interest) and should be able to point you to an acceptable collection of books. And while we are mentioning librarians, they are typically more than happy to help you learn the electronic catalogue systems, which often supply you with reading and interest levels. Ask them to show you and your son how it works. My local library will even show you how to get dozens of free classics on your electronic reading device.

Reading to your son on a regular basis holds great potential to ignite a passion for lifelong reading. Nothing develops a better love of books as well as the stories and adventure contained within them than joint participation. Just your presence alone is often enjoyed by boys and you can really develop a love for books if you read in such a way that heightens the author’s work. Some parents want to open a book and begin reading, and then are disappointed that their child appears disinterested. If that is your son, then start with a discussion of what he thinks the book will be about. Challenge him as to why he thinks the story will progress in a certain way. If you know something about the story, present a question he will want to anticipate the answer to. For instance: “in caleb_reading_wdad2Treasure Island, young Jim meets an “old sea dog” who tells him tails of sailing on the open seas, what types of tails do you think he will hear about?” (By the way, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is available on tablet reading apps such as Kindle, Nook or Kobo for free as are a host of classics boys have loved for many years.)

To help reading times be successful you may need to modify your practices.  Allow your child to color or play with something quiet.  If you allow them to have a toy, make sure it is something simple like modeling clay or building blocks.  Then teach your child how to use their hands and listen.  Ask lots of questions to monitor their listening skills. When reading to your child, express your surprise and excitement. Ask your child to guess what will happen next. Talk about why certain twists and turns surprise you. Talking together helps your son create categories in his mind which strengthens comprehension and can only help to increase his joy of reading.  A fun alternative is to read a chapter together, then have your child read the next chapter on his own.  If you model advanced thinking skills, your child will most likely continue these thinking skills while he is reading on his own.

By reading yourself your child will learn by example. Talk about the books you are reading. Express your pleasure or disappointment in the stories and material you read.  My dear Mom recently died and my Dad has moved in with my wife and me.My Dad and I still talk about the books we are reading! During the special reading times, if at all possible you should participate.

Create special reading times. These can be family times when you purpose to cut off media distractions and read to your son or all read along side of each other. In our family we rewarded our children each night they got into bed (brushed, flushed and dressed for bed) by a given time by allowing them to stay up thirty extra minutes to read. Each of my children learned to love this “extra” reading time. If these special times become routine they are especially effective.

Reward your son with recognition. While all children love recognition, most boys seem to thrive with recognition. If you allow your children to watch TV or use a computer or video game, why not have them “earn” time on those less mentally stimulating activities?  We would allow our children 30 minutes of TV for every hour they read.  Then they could trade in an hour of TV for 30 minutes of video games on the computer. If you want to set up something more formal you can print out incentive charts. You can reward your child for minutes read, chapters read, books read, etc. Develop something that works for your son. Then when your son reaches the goals you set up, make sure they are praised and recognized for the achievement.

All four of my children learned to love reading. While two seemed to naturally devour books, two needed extra prompting. With the simple strategies above you too can pass on the joy of reading to your children even if they are not natural lovers of books.

Do you have ideas to add? Please add to the discussion below.