Classic Adventure Books for Young Adults

Yosmite Children's book young adult adventureWith tweens and teens spending so much of their time indoors these days, between school with no recess and more and more free time being spent on electronics, it’s important to instill a love of the outdoors in our kids. Aside from actually get out into nature, which is especially important, one great way to get kids interested in the wilderness is by giving them great stories about wilderness adventures.

The books on this list will probably be familiar to you, most parents currently with kids in the “young adult” book audience are of the age to have read a lot of these books themselves growing up. While modern adventure stories can be great, sharing stories that you enjoyed, that are still appealing for kids today, can be a great way to connect with your teens and tweens around nature and adventures. If you haven’t read these books, rest assured, they are classics for a reason! These stories are all very well written and have timeless storylines and life lessons in abundance. You may just want to buy two copies of the books and read (or reread) them along with your kids.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

In Hatchet, Brian, a 13-year-old boy is traveling to visit his father when the single engine plane he is flying in crashes and he is forced to find a way to survive in the wilderness. Hatchet is the first in trilogy with The River and Brian’s Winter being the sequels. Gary Paulsen is a master story teller. These books are expertly crafted and draw the reader into the story so well, they’ll feel like they are right out in the wilderness with Brian. They’ll also learn quite a bit about what it takes to survive and it will pique their interest in the great outdoors.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins, and its sequel, Zia, tell the story of a girl stranded alone on an island for 18 years. Karana’s tribe is evacuating the island when she discovers that her brother has been left behind. She goes back in an attempt to save him, but ends up stranded on the island alone instead after he dies. This is another pair of books with a rich storyline which will draw the reader in and encourage their interest in the wilderness.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

This book is slightly different in that it’s about a boy who is not lost in the wilderness, but chooses to run away. My Side of the Mountain and its sequels, On the Far Side of the Mountain, and Frightful’s Mountain follow Sam Gribley as he decides to abandon his home and family in crowded New York City and escape to his great-grandfather’s abandoned farm in upstate New York. The series, also excellent pieces of literature like the others, has amazing attention to detail and will not only encourage a love of the outdoors, but teach some real wilderness skills.

Have you read any of the books? Which one would you most like to share with your teen or tween?


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