Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Books for Boys (and Girls) Who Love Adventure

The past few months, Ed has been reading all sorts of great books to the children. Story time with Dad is definitely a favorite at our house.

All the stories below met the just-one-more-chapter test. Though they may have been written for boys, my girls were just as attentive. I am guessing these books are geared for ages 10-12. My children are ages 6 to 11, but my younger children have listened to chapter books for years and are accustomed to hearing books above their age range.

And even I liked to listen to these books. And if a book isn't good enough for an adult to enjoy - it isn't worth reading to a child.

Note: The first few books on this list are not from a Christian perspective.

Little Britches by Ralph Moody
Every dad should read this wonderful book to his sons. Ralph shares the lessons about hard work and honesty that he learned from his father as they move to Colorado to start their own ranch. Lots of great fun mixed in with the hard work. This book does contain some "cowboy language" which makes it a good book to read aloud so it can be edited. The first book in a great series.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
When the pilot dies of a heart attack, Brian is left alone in the Canadian wilderness with only a hatchet. A great book to imagine how one would survive alone with very few skills or tools. There were a few words in the book that Ed skipped when reading. Our children thought the sequel, Brian's Winter, was even better than Hatchet. But I don't like some of Paulsen's other books.

Call It Courage by Armstrong Perry
I remember my teacher reading this to me in 3rd or 4th grade. A classic story of a boy who faces his greatest fear, the sea, by living alone on an island. Battling a giant octopus, fighting a wild pig, and fleeing cannibals make this an exciting read. This is a story is a tale told in the South Sea Islands from before the missionaries arrived so there is mention of idol worship.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Sam runs away from New York City to begin a new life in the Catskill wilderness. How he manages to survive and thrive makes favorite reading for several generations. On the Far Side of the Mountain is the sequel which adds Sam's sister to a mystery that my children loved.

These stories were fun - but maybe not always quite realistic. In fiction it is too easy to make everything work out perfectly. Real life isn't always so neat and tidy.

So next we read several true stories. Added benefit is that these stories are God-glorifying.

Lost on a Mountain Maine by Donn Fendler
Donn became separated from his family and friends while hiking Mt Katadin in Maine. The days that followed don't show the fun side of being lost alone in the wilderness but it is a true story and well worth reading and discussing with your family.

Home on the Rock Pile by Pablo Yoder
There is never a dull moment with pet skunks, rattlesnakes, bears, and a whole houseful of children. Pablo tells stories from his boyhood when his dad moved to the mountains of Virginia to begin a mission church. These books would be appropriate for a younger age level than the others listed here.
You will want to also read the sequel, Home on the Blue Ridge.

Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide To Wilderness Survival by Denise Long
After reading the above stories, my children were ready to learn more survival tactics. This is a great nonfiction book that covers building shelters, starting fires, searching for food, navigating, and avoiding dangerous animals (including the tiny guys.) Excellent book that will have your children hoping they get lost in the woods to use their new knowledge.

The Little Book of Whittling by Chris Lubkermann
The carving skills of the boys at the Allegany Boys Camp have inspired my boys to whittle. This little book is an excellent guide for a beginning wood carver. Includes side columns with all sorts of wilderness information. Our copy is dog eared. Check out the author's other wood carving books.

And if you are looking for a good carving knife - my boys are using Flexcut knives. Endless hours of fun (plus a few band-aids.)

My First Book of Knots by Berndt Sundsten and Jan Jager
Knot tying is a perfect skill for an adventure loving child. This book is well illustrated and just a lot of fun to look through. I think my boys have at least attempted most of these knots.

Do you have any books to add to this list for the Adventure Lover?

(This post contains affiliate links.)


  1. Absolutely awesome books! I didn't know there were any survival type books out there for children besides Boy Scouts or Ranger Rick. My Dad gave my 2 boys only one book ever...how to tie knots. Thirty years later I can honestly say those skills come in handy so much more often that some 'city slickers' might imagine. As a child, we all whittled our own sling-shots...even the girls! As an adult I used to use a sling shot to chase skunks away from the trash barrels! Thanks for including girls in the adventure!! Bless Ed....not all Dad's are keen to read aloud!

  2. Great books..especially "Survivor Kid". It looks perfect for my grandson's 11th birthday gift in July. I agree with Ruth,Ed is wonderful to read to the kids! They will always remember that time with Daddy!

  3. "The Mushroom Planet" series by Eleanor Cameron consists of five books I think. I highly recommend searching Amazon used book sellers for the original editions which are brilliantly illustrated. It is an enchanting and wholesome series--for boys mostly I suppose.

    1. I've never heard of this series. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I was wondering, do you use any particular resource for finding good books? I have a few books with "book lists" but sometimes even then its hard to figure out what is appropriate. Sometimes I find that the author of the book list does not share the same values as my family does even though they are written from a Christian perspective. Sometimes I find it hard to tell if the book is too high of a maturity level. Often I read the book myself ahead of time to make sure. But I also don't always have time to do that when giving my children books so I try to rely on picking books from book lists that I am fairly sure will be okay or certain will be okay. Can you share any online or print or catalog resources that you use to figure out what books to read? Or maybe its just based on books that you had read to you? I wasn't a Christian as a child until late teenage years and I wasn't raised in a Christian home so I can't go on what I read as a child and I know for certain that some of it, especially as a teen, was not appropriate.

    1. I don't have any clear answer. I enjoy reading book catalogs and books about books - but like you - sometimes I'm disappointed. I also like to ask my friends for suggestions - but sometimes even people I highly admire like books that I wouldn't read to my children. And probably some would say that about my recommendations! Books are such a personal matter and everyone has their own opinions. Sometimes a book is not appropriate for one child - but okay for another. It takes a lot of wisdom.

      I do a lot of prereading before giving books to my children, especially if it is an unknown author. It does take a lot of time, but I don't want to risk giving a bad book to my children. I probably have 30 books on my shelf right now waiting for me to preread. Sometimes I only skim read - choosing a chapter from the beginning, middle, and end. Sometimes only a few pages will tell me that it isn't worth reading. I have also told my oldest daughter that if something slips through and she finds something inappropriate, to please tell me. She is rather trustworthy but I still don't want to get lazy in doing my job as guard. Like you, there were books I read as a teen that I hope my children don't read.


    2. Thank you, Gina, for taking time to write a reply. This makes sense to me. I am glad that someone else has the same thoughts on pre-reading and working to be intentional about this aspect of parenting. It sure does take a lot of wisdom but I think its very important. I hope very much to avoid for my children some of the struggles I have because of viewing and reading things that were inappropriate.

  5. I am so glad you asked! I would read aloud adventure novels to my children when we would go camping. Our all time favorite authors were Will Durbin (start with The Broken Blade and do Wintering next....Song of Sampo Lake...then work your way through) he is so much better than the author of Hatchet. Durbin is less flowery in his writing. And we also really liked Will Hobbs' novels about kids on a gold rush adventure. I think you want to start with Jason's Gold.

    1. Those are new authors to me. Thanks for the recommendations!

  6. I found your blog through Pinterest when I was looking for bread recipes.
    I subscribed and this is the first post I got to my email. I have one boy (1.5) and two girls (3 and 5). I might wait a couple more years before getting those, but I placed them on my wish list so I don't forget. Thanks so much for recommending those!

    1. Welcome to Home Joys! I love when readers stop in to introduce themselves!

  7. Thank you for sharing this! It is so hard to find good reading material, and so I am always most grateful when others share their recommendations. :)

    You might like the "Farm Mystery Series". My children loved them, especially our son. It follow two Christian, home-schooled brothers - there is nothing "off" in these books, in my opinion, and yet they are fun to read and offer excitement and adventure. Here is the link:


  8. Hi Gina,
    I always enjoy your posts. We own and enjoy nearly all of the books that you listed here! I'd like to share a few of our favorites. "Mary Jones and Her Bible" by Mary Carter, "Rascal" by Sterling North, "Wide Meadows" by Jean Bell Mosley, "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew and "The Reverend Spy" by David P Denton. My Mother read all of these to my sisters and me as children and now i have read them to my children. A couple more that would be read alouds as you might wish to edit a few things are "Freckles" and "Girl of the Limberlost" by Jean Stratton Porter and "Tisha" by Anne Hobbs Purdy. -Gail

  9. Hi Gina,
    Here are a few that my Mother read to my sisters and me and now I've read to my children: "A Little Woman" by Gladys Alward, "The Reverend Spy" by David P Denton, "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew, "God's Smuggler to China" by Brother David, "Bud and Me" by Alta Aberbathy (your boys will LOVE this one!) "Rascal" by Sterling North, "Mary Jones and Her Bible" by Mary Carter and "Wide Meadows" by Jean Bell Mosley.

  10. A few more that would be read alouds (as you will likely want to do some minor editing) are "Tisha" by Anne Hobbs Purdy, "Freckles" and "A Girl of the Limberlost" by Jean Stratton Porter, "Carry on Mr Bowditch" by Jean Lee Latham, "Cheaper by the Dozen" by Frank Gilbreth Jr., and "Just David" by Eleanor Porter.

  11. Another one my children enjoyed was "The Door in the Wall" by Marguerite De Angeli.


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