What Books Will Boost Self-Confidence in My 10-Year-Old Son?

From The Guardian:

Q: What books would help instil confidence in a preteen boy?
Stay-at-home mother, 33, trying to help her 10-year-old son to become calmer and more confident

A: Fiona Noble, children’s books editor at the Bookseller, writes:
The act of reading can itself create an oasis of calm in a busy world, and I believe children’s fiction can play a powerful role in building confidence and resilience. Look for stories showing characters facing and overcoming fears and persevering in tough times. SF Said’s modern classic Varjak Paw, with wonderfully menacing artwork from Dave McKean, is about a young cat on a voyage of discovery and self-acceptance in the big city, replete with martial arts and terrifying villains. Another thrilling tale of bravery is Katherine Rundell’s epic adventure The Explorer, last year’s Costa children’s book of they ear. Four children lost in the Amazon jungle face a compelling physical struggle to survive while each facing their own, more personal battles.

Nonfiction may also offer inspiration. In Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different, Ben Brooks looks beyond the stereotypes, at a diverse selection of male lives, from Lionel Messi to Barack Obama and Daniel Radcliffe.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

PG would add The Dangerous Book for Boys to this list.

You can get a sense for this book from the book’s first page, which describes Essential Gear for boys:

As a former boy of a certain age, PG can attest to the attractiveness of the items on this list to such a boy, not necessarily because they’re essential for specific tasks, but rather because they’re highly beneficial for the imagination of such a boy and contribute to his self-confidence.

If a boy is prepared to write down a description of a crime he might witness, even in the tamest of neighborhoods, he becomes more observant and feels a bit of mature responsibility for the safety of others. A small flashlight will keep him amused for hours and he will certainly use it to examine a map, even one he draws himself, in the dark or perform a late-evening security check of the perimeter of his home.

11 thoughts on “What Books Will Boost Self-Confidence in My 10-Year-Old Son?”

  1. I was raised on a farm. It’s good for young people (both boys and girls) to feel like they have the tools on their person to deal with what ever may come their way.

    I am naked without a jack knife, a small note book, pen or pencil, and a few band-aids. I like to have a crescent wrench, a combo screw driver, pliers, zip ties, duck tape, and a length of tie wire somewhere close at all times. When I am on my bicycle, I also carry a three-way allen wrench.

    Inspiring books are wonderful, but a few tools in my pocket or close at hand give me a different kind of confidence in the material world.

    • Tools, yes.
      One of my better xmas gifts as a kid was a toolbox.
      Real tools, kid sized. Saw, Hammer, screwdriver, etc.
      Another year it was a microscope. They were cheap in those days.

      A few years after that I signed up for THINGS OF SCIENCE.


      Every month a new kid friendly kit.
      I got to build a telescope. It could be morphed into a theodolite with another kit.
      An analog computer. A periscope. Other cool stuff. Mostly cardboard but it worked.

      All educational stuff but I got to *do* things. Built things.

      I loved to read. A paperback novel a day. Comics galore.
      Reading is great but if you want to teach confidence, teach them how to build things, do things, go places.
      The last is increasingly hard these days but the first two are still doable.

  2. “What Books Will Boost Self-Confidence in My 10-Year-Old Son?”

    Not a one if you the parent don’t show that ‘you’ have confidence in him.

    @ Democritus Jr.

    Yeah, right now I’m smelling the scorch of a soldering iron cooling down (I was cleaning up a few pre-used switches for a project I’m playing with.) The knowledge that I can repair/build/modify with my own two hands has lifted me out of dark times/thoughts more than once. And that all started by my dad letting me fix(bungle) my bike. 😉

    • Fix (bungle) things. Take minor injuries once in a while when doing so. However… This is a single mom, who honestly has two strikes already against her when trying to raise a self-confident son. (NOT her fault, simply the way it works.)

      Actually, the best thing for her to do would be to contact the local Big Brothers or equivalent organization. Books (much as I love them myself) are a far ways from having a good and confident male example to emulate.

      Failing that – I know that much of it would “trigger” many these days, but I would recommend Swiss Family Robinson as one of the books. Although it is told from the father’s viewpoint, it is really about the Robinson sons growing up, gaining confidence by doing difficult things, and eventually becoming quite good men.

      • By your comments I am 100% sure you are an awesome mom and your son will be awesome too. Bless you.

        Swiss Family Robinson was one of my favorites growing up too. I’d also recommend The Fountainhead and prepare your son for every academic loser he runs into through his teens and early 20’s badmouthing this book.

        • Thank you! I’m going to show this to my (grown) children and tell them what an awesome mom they have.

          They’ll probably hit the floor laughing, since I’m their father. (Grin.)

          BTW, they DO have an awesome mom; I just try to keep up with her on the dad side.

          Oh, and I am guilty of a misread on the OP – the questioner is not a single mom, she is a stay at home mom. Very different thing. Sigh…

          • “They’ll probably hit the floor laughing, since I’m their father. (Grin.)”

            that made me laughout loud. Thanks Writing Observer

        • Oh! Forgot to add that my son IS awesome, for which I can take only partial credit. USMCR, works his tail off at a job, always willing to go help other people. (He’s off somewhere this morning – at age 22, I don’t track him any more – but I believe it is helping someone he barely knows from work get moved.)

  3. Anyone notice a common thread in the comments, including PG’s? Skills! Most children grow up with nothing to do except entertain themselves and maybe do a few household chores. Their lives are structured to protect them from that dangerous reality outside, at the same time they’re inundated with reasons to fear. They’re offered nothing to give them real self-confidence. Gold stars and good grades? Most have seen through that before they reach puberty. Certainly there are books that can inspire, but how much of that translates into real life?

    • For urban reality experience, there are always plenty of volunteer things where they will be exposed to the good, the bad, and the ugly – while still being reasonably safe from horrible consequences. (Yes, when they were younger, it was “voluntold” not “volunteered” – by me, by the Church, by the demands of scholarship granters – but they have mostly learned to enjoy them for their own reasons.)

      NOTE: I do not include “volunteer” things that are simply going off and marching for a cause. Whatever the cause, whether it is considered “left” or “right.” I mean things like working a food distribution, a fund raiser, neighborhood cleanup, painting a house for Habitat, etc. Not just showing up, carrying a sign, and being loud.

      For “wild” reality – well, I used to be able to recommend the Scouting organizations. Unfortunately, they seem far more focused these days on the showing up, carrying a sign, and being loud than they are at teaching skills of any sort.

  4. I grew 2 inches at 26 and it boosted my confidence pretty drastically. If you feel comfortable thinking outside the box definitely check out heightify.com. They sell subliminal tracks that increase height at any age, which I didnt even think was possible.

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