A Parent of a 9-Year-Old Shares Books Their Child Loves Right Now

Amanda Henry-Godino, mother of two boys, describes how family read-alouds inspired a brotherly bond over books.
Mar 22, 2022



A Parent of a 9-Year-Old Shares Books Their Child Loves Right Now

Mar 22, 2022

Brothers Grant and Calvin can’t wait to read new books. After getting a fresh batch of books, both boys are so excited to dive into their picks that within a few short hours, mom Amanda Henry-Godino finds they’re finished and ready for the next. 

“When they get a new book, they want to read it right away — they don’t want to wait,” says Henry-Godino, who’s been reading to the boys since they were babies. “Both boys, if they’re into a book, will read it no matter the time of day.” 

According to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 90 percent of children enjoy the books they choose themselves. Letting her sons pick out their own books has been the household standard for years now, Henry-Godino says. 

“Around ages 7 and 8, we started to encourage the kids to read by themselves a couple nights a week,” she says of the family’s reading routine. “The boys would take a look at their libraries, pick out their own choices, and read independently.” 

Nights spent reading alone boosted the boys’ independent reader confidence, while nights reading together as a family meant a book selection that was extra special, so they had to listen more closely to comprehend the story. 

“For read-aloud nights, we sometimes chose a bigger book that had more text and fewer pictures,” Henry-Godino says, “to push them toward chapter books a little bit more.”

Still, Calvin, now 9 years old, enjoys reading together and always wants to share what he’s reading. 

“If something’s particularly funny, he’ll call out, ‘Oh, I want to read you this,’” Henry-Godino says.

Let’s take a look at what’s on Calvin’s bookshelves now.

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Movie-Adapted Books for 9-Year-Olds

Calvin is on a roll with the best-selling The Bad Guys series. Blending humor and good-versus-evil story lines, The Bad Guys has young readers rooting for the books’ unlikely heroes.

In April 2022, the first Bad Guys movie will hit theaters. Needless to say, Calvin is thrilled. 

“Movies are just one more driving force for the kids to get excited about the book series,” Henry-Godino says.

Books with multimedia extensions — films, TV series, games — can be a draw for children who are reluctant readers or who struggle to finish a book. Once kids discover that the visual world they love can be translated to the page, they’re more likely to pick up the book to learn what happens next to their favorite characters.

“I cannot get the Bad Guys books to him fast enough,” says Henry-Godino. “I don’t know what it is about those characters, but I will hear him giggling from the other room — he just adores the series.”

Another book-and-movie universe that's captured Calvin’s attention is the Star Wars franchise.

Book Series to Encourage Independent Reading for 9-Year-Olds

The Captain Underpants series holds a special place in Calvin's reading life.

Finding the first book in a series your child will love can take a few tries. But once they find a world and characters they’re interested in, they’ll be hooked and you’ll find them tearing through the rest of the series in no time. 

For both Calvin and Grant, it was Captain Underpants that really ushered in a new era of regular reading. The best-selling series follows the adventures of two comic book-loving fourth graders, George and Harold, and their creation, Captain Underpants, whom the boys call on when they get into mix-ups.

Older brother Grant, 10, introduced Calvin to the series by way of family read-alouds. Henry-Godino says the family sometimes reads together as a group, and that Grant initially led those sessions after discovering the series through the Scholastic Book Fair at school. In true “big brother” fashion, Grant passed the books on to Calvin, who’s been hooked from the beginning. 

“Now Calvin is going through the entire series himself,” says Henry-Godino.

She adds that the series has benefited each family member in different ways. For Henry-Godino and her husband, the chapter books were the perfect bridge from picture book to longer reading that would encourage comprehension

“Captain Underpants was our entryway for getting out of a lot of those 10- to 20-page-long kids’ books that are just those singular stories,” she says.

These were the books that made older brother Grant want to read more and read independently.

“Captain Underpants unlocked more adult or independent reading for us,” Henry-Godino says.

Books About Coping for 9-Year-Olds

As older brother Grant takes steps toward adulthood — he’ll begin middle school in the fall — Henry-Godino has seen the boys’ reading interests begin to diverge. Grant has become immersed in the events of World War II, and the abundant nonfiction and historical fiction tied to it — like the I Survived series.

“Grant can’t get enough of the I Survived series, and the history angle of things generally,” Henry-Godino says. She adds that her older son will often reread books in the series for details he may have missed previously. 

“In rereading them, he recognizes it might open up something he glossed over the first time.”

Meanwhile, younger brother Calvin is leaning into his love of funny books. In addition to favorites like Bad Guys and Captain Underpants, he’s taken to comic books like Spider-Man — inspired, no doubt, by the family’s shared love of the classic strip Calvin & Hobbes.

Comic books and graphic novels pair more complex text with imagery that aids readers in comprehending story events. They are wonderful tools for reluctant readers and advanced readers alike — and especially popular among children in the upper grades and middle school.

“For Calvin, it’s an anxiety-reducing thing,” Henry-Godino says. “It’s a known quantity: For him, it’s a comfort to read those funny books and have a laugh before he goes to sleep.”

And comfort is crucial, as both boys return to in-person learning after years away and approach the preteen years.

“Processing emotions, that’s a big thing,” Henry-Godino says. “They had a lot of feelings during the pandemic.” She acknowledges that learning how to cope — something even adults struggle with — can be difficult to teach a child. 

For these tough conversations, books that highlight persons facing injustice or public skepticism, as well as persons with disabilities, can offer lessons on perseverance, determination, and empathy.

In Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges, the first Black student in the U.S. to integrate into an all-white school recounts the role she played in American desegregation. Another memoir, Her Own Two Feet, introduces readers to Rebeka Uwitonze, a Rwandan girl born with club feet who travels alone to Texas at age 9 for multiple corrective surgeries and the chance to walk without pain.

“It’s helpful for the boys to rearrange themselves and understand what others may have gone through,” Henry-Godino says. “They can start to see someone’s struggles and how they’ve persevered.”

Books About Friendship for 9-Year-Olds

As Calvin continues to navigate friendships in the upper grades, Henry-Godino is on the lookout for stories that promote healthy relationships, self-esteem, and confidence.

“These questions of how do you make friendships, keep friendships, or one day you have a friend and the next day you don’t — this is what we’re dealing with now,” she says.

For a story about the benefits of friendship, look no further than the best-selling and critically acclaimed Freak the Mighty. It’s about two “misfit” neighbors whose unlikely bond gives them the courage to face the negative forces in their lives, like bullies at school. This moving and funny story inspired the movie The Mighty, and will inspire any kid who's ever felt like an outsider. 

The international best-selling Dog Man series also has many lessons to teach about kindness, empathy, and love. These graphic novels from author Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants, follow the hilarious adventures of a superhero canine crimefighter who is part dog and part man. The books offer universally positive messages that appeal to readers of all ages (Calvin included) while helping to boost reading skills.

Encourage a love of reading with help from our guide, which includes book recommendations by interest, tips for getting your child to read for fun, and much more. Plus, take a peek at books for 10-year-olds

Shop more popular books for 9-year-olds below. You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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