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Adventure Books for Young Readers

By Dawn Woodruff, Twisp Public Library

At the Twisp Library I started a weekly read-aloud program for 6-14 year old kids called “Adventure Reading” in September of 2016. Through this program, I have found some awesome books I’d like to share with you.

This was a Tuesday morning program attended by home-schooled kids in the Methow Valley. I LOVED this weekly gathering (which is obviously suspended for now), as did the kids who attended. We started each session with a review of what had happened in the book so far to get us all up to speed and then I would read to the kids for 30-45 minutes.

Over the past few years we’ve read 18 novels and a handful of short story collections including Hank the Cowdog books by John R Erickson and tales about young Patrick and Crazy Eddie Muldoon by Patrick F. McManus. I did a lot of research, took suggestions, and “interviewed” several more books than made the cut over the years. In addition to the selection criteria below I attempted to vary the books so that the main character was sometimes a boy and the next time a girl.

My criteria for the books chosen were:
  • They had to be adventurous
  • They had to be well written
  • They had to have likable characters
  • They had to be non-magical

 

Books that meet these last two criteria are actually the hardest to come by. By likable characters I mean I would NOT read books where kids told their siblings to “shut up” or called their friends or siblings names on a regular basis. This dialogue is disturbingly common in kid’s books. I would read books where people made poor choices, or where bullying or racism occurred. These types of books encourage kids to have empathy and witness character growth.

“Non-Magical” was one of my criteria because some parents of the group attendees did not appreciate “magical” themes and I wanted to make the group as inclusive as possible. With fantasy novels being very popular with this age group since the 1990s, magical books that otherwise met my criteria were easy to find, harder to avoid.

Okay, now that you know what I was looking for I want to tell you about the standouts of the 18 novels that we did read.

The Super Standout Awesome Books

Follow My Leader was written by James B. Garfield in 1957. It was my favorite book as a kid. Young Jimmy loses his eyesight during an accident when he and some friends were playing with firecrackers. He needs to learn to adapt to his new situation with the help of a therapist, short term training at a school for the blind, and a guide dog named Leader. The author James B. Garfield was told by a doctor early in his life that he would lose his eyesight, however it did not happen until his 50s. His eventual blindness allowed him to portray Jimmy so realistically. The scenes are so well described that all of the kids could imagine they were Jimmy, experiencing any given part of the story.

Check it out through NCW Libraries in these formats:

Print

Jackie’s Wild Seattle was written by Will Hobbs in 2003. A remarkable book that manages to touch on some tough topics including child abuse, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, cancer, and the refugee crisis so gracefully within the main plot of two young New York City kids who go live with their uncle in Seattle for the summer where they get to help him rescue animals in trouble. Author Will Hobbs has written several other adventurous books for young readers. Look into those too!

Check it out through NCW Libraries in these formats:

Hoopla Digital Ebook

Hoopla Digital EAudiobook

A Wolf Called Wander written by Rosanne Parry, illustrated by Mónica Armiño in 2019. How we LOVED hearing about a wolf’s life from the main character, Swift, from the time he is born. This story is about family and friendship and epic journeys with danger from men, animals and natural elements. The kids enjoyed the wolf’s perception of scenery and situations we humans completely understand like (the fear of) crossing the “Black River” otherwise known as a Highway.

Check it out through NCW Libraries in these formats:

Print

Audiobook

Overdrive EBook

Overdrive EAudiobook

Hoopla Digital EAudiobook

The Explorer written was by Katherine Rundell in 2017. A small airplane ferrying four young kids from Manaus, Brazil to their homes in London crashes in the Amazon rainforest killing the pilot and leaving the kids to make it on their own. They face danger from all sides while they figure out how to survive, help one another, and get to civilization. They finally do, with help from the mysterious ‘Explorer’. This story makes you consider whether you could overcome your deepest fears. Could you look beyond what you want in order to do what’s best for someone else?

Check it out through NCW Libraries in these formats:

Print

Overdrive EBook

Overdrive EAudiobook

Hoopla Digital EAudiobook

We also REALLY liked these Books

From the Mixed up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Lily’s Mountain by Hannah Moderow

Ice Island by Sherry Shahan

The Cay by Theodore Taylor

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart (to be fair, we are only half way through this GEM due to the pandemic. It might get bumped into the Awesome category.)

 

Any of the books mentioned in this article would be fine for 6-14 year old kids to read on their own and would be outstanding as a family read aloud. Everyone in the family will be excited for the next installment.

The entire list of books is available upon request, please email info@ncwlibraries.org.

 

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