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Best Non-Macho Books for Boys

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 1 of 15

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: 13 great books for boys that go beyond macho-man stereotypes If you look inside the toy chest of my four-year-old boys, you’ll find little more than matchbox cars, capes and a few swords thrown in for good measure. I often wonder whether it’s society, their chromosomal makeup, or a combination of the two that pushes them toward all things rough and tumble. Regardless, I get it. My concept of manliness is built on similar, innate principals. But it also contains a healthy dose of “softer” things like compassion, thoughtfulness, and emotional availability — things I desperately want to pass on to my boys. And one way I do that is by reading them books which encourage a level of emotional intelligence not typically found in stories featuring dump trucks or superheroes. Interested in finding similar-themed books for your son? Then read on to learn my favorites. And be sure to let me know any suggestions you may have in the comments.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 2 of 15

    The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, illustrated by William Nicholson
    Cultivates: Vulnerability

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: The Velveteen Rabbit The velveteen rabbit is insecure around all the fancy toys in the nursery until the skin horse tells him that the only way to become real is to be loved by a child. And that’s exactly what happens. The rabbit and the boy become best friends — until the child becomes sick and must get rid of all his toys. A fairy comes to the confused and discarded rabbit and informs him that he is finally real, not just to the boy, but to everyone. The rabbit hops off joyfully, having taught the reader that love is what really gives us life.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 3 of 15

    The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, illustrated by George and Doris Hauman
    Cultivates: Perseverance

    Best “Non-Macho” Books for Boys:  The Little Engine That Could This timeless classic teaches an important lesson with four simple words: I think I can. Toys are left brokenhearted when the engine that’s delivering them to needy boys and girls breaks down. They ask several other engines to help, but only the littlest, least qualified agrees. Yet the willingness and enthusiasm of this little engine to take on a challenge makes him the most qualified of all, and a good role model to boot.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 4 of 15

    Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw
    Cultivates: Unconditional love

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: Love You Forever The story begins with a mom caring for her infant son, telling him that she’ll love him forever. It ends with the man, who now has a child of his own, caring for his elderly mom, telling her the exact same. I Love You Forever shows readers what unconditional love looks like while also providing them with generational perspective.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 5 of 15

    Calvin Can’t Fly, by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Keith Bendis
    Cultivates: Individuality

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: Calvin Can’t Fly His bird buddies are drawn to worms and flying, but all Calvin wants to do is read, which earns him nicknames like Nerdy Birdie. Things quickly change when the birds head south for the winter and Calvin saves their lives thanks to the knowledge he’s picked up by being a bookworm. He teaches us that it’s cool to read and to be yourself.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 6 of 15

    Old Bear and His Cub, by Olivier Dunrea
    Cultivates: Respect

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: Old Bear and His Cub This delightful story proves that not only do bears have tender sides, but that fathers do, too. The Old Bear nags his son to do the right thing, whether it’s finishing his oatmeal or bundling up when leaving the house. But then Old Bear becomes sick and needs some TLC himself, which his cub is more than happy to deliver.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 7 of 15

    Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
    Cultivates: Imagination

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: Harold and the Purple Crayon One night, Harold decides to go for a walk — with the help of his purple crayon, that is. He uses the crayon to draw every detail of his journey, starting with a straight path and quickly veering off to whatever adventure is next. The real treat is seeing Harold color his way into and out of danger, which will have any boy eager to exercise the right side of his brain.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 8 of 15

    Officer Buckle and Gloria by Petty Rathmann
    Cultivates: Teamwork

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: Officer Buckle and Gloria Officer Buckle is a stumbling, bumbling kinda fellow until he teams up with Gloria, a dog who turns his once boring safety presentations into highly sought after events. But just when we think that Officer Buckle owes his newfound popularity to Gloria, the dog flops when trying to go it alone, teaching the reader the importance of teamwork.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 9 of 15

    The Spiffiest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson, illustrations by Axel Scheffler
    Cultivates: Generosity

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: The Spiffiest Giant in Town George is the scruffiest giant in town until he gets set up with a brand new wardrobe. As the suddenly spiffy George walks home in his new duds, he runs into a number of his friends, all of whom have a problem which George remedies with one of his new garments. The end result is a return to scruffiness and a lesson in kindness.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 10 of 15

    The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
    Cultivates: Independence

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: The Kissing Hand Chester is a little raccoon who is scared to leave home and go to school until his mother kisses the palm of his hand and tells him to put it up to his cheek every time he feels he needs a little love from home. Don’t think for a second we didn’t read this one to our guys before their first day of preschool. And don’t think for a second that it didn’t help calm the butterflies.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 11 of 15

    Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
    Cultivates: Appreciation of home

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: Where the Wild Things Are Another classic — this one, the story of Max whose mischievous behavior gets him sent to his room without any supper. Angry, Max imagines leaving his home behind and sailing to the land of wild things, all of whom he quickly conquers. Before, that is, Max, himself, is conquered by homesickness, which compels him to return to his home where he finds things aren’t so bad, and there’s hot supper waiting for him.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 12 of 15

    Dirtball Pete by Eileen Brennan
    Cultivates: Determination

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: Dirtball Pete A frustrated mom bathes her filthy son before his school presentation. Then, just as he’s about to go onstage, the wind blows Pete’s presentation from his hands, causing him to chase after it — a process through which Pete regains his dirt-ball status. His mom is crestfallen, but not for long. Pete nails his presentation with such confidence that no one even notices how dirty he is.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 13 of 15

    My Name is Not Alexander, by Jenifer Fosberry, illustrated by Mike Litwin
    Cultivates: Dreaming

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: My Name is Not Alexander On the surface, this tale is about a son who’s being silly, pretending to be anyone except the person he actually is. But beneath the surface, what this boy is actually doing is dreaming of becoming a great man who makes a difference. Whether it’s Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, or his own father, the boy plans to be great.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 14 of 15

    Corduroy, by Don Freeman
    Cultivates: Acceptance

    Best 'Non-Macho' Books for Boys: Corduroy Corduroy is a little bear who fears he may never find a home thanks to a broken button on his suspenders. Enter Lisa, the little girl who loves him in spite of it. Through her, we learn that it’s not about how things look on the outside that counts; it’s how they make you feel on the inside.

  • Best Non-Macho Books for Boys 15 of 15
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