Children’s adventure books

Published 8:06 pm Monday, October 1, 2018

I am an “old-school” soul who still likes the feel and connection of reading an actual book rather than a digital one.  My wife and I both spent ample time reading to our kids starting when they were in the womb and into adolescence.

There are some classic books out there for any occasion that newer ones have a trouble surpassing in quality.  Children’s book on outdoor adventure is one of those.  My wife recently asked our Nature Reliance School Facebook family what books they read as kids, or read to their kids.

Several stood out as top-notch choices for them.  I wanted to give you a quick view of them if you are so inclined to children under your care.

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Hatchet by Gary Paulsen was written in 1987, and is an incredibly successful award winner that has sold over 2 million copies.

It is a fictional account of 13-year-old Brian who must survive alone in the wilderness after the small engine plane he was riding, crash landed.  It is named because he has with him a hatchet his mother gave him before he departed on the plan.

It takes the reader through Brian’s ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome many obstacles to maintain his survivability.  He thrives more than anything else by his own wits and determination.  In an era where victimhood seems to be the order of the day, this book teaches kids to not be victims but rather take control of bad situations and overcome, and not allow yourself to be a victim.

My Side of the Mountain was written by Jean Craighead George and first published in 1959.  This is, quite frankly, one of my all-time favorite books.  It is a story about a 14-year-old boy named Sam, who lives in the Catskill Mountain wilderness after running away from home.  Although I obviously don’t encourage leaving home, I do like a storyline that encourages adolescents and young adults to overcome obstacles and make their own way as an individual, which this book cleverly does.

The fictional story is a recollection of Sam’s experience through a snowstorm and his befriending of a peregrine falcon, as well as, him living a self-reliant life on his family’s abandoned farm.  Like most of these books, some of the survival aspects are creative fiction but the mindset they can teach a young mind is worth it.   

Julie of the Wolves, also by Jean Craighead George was published in 1972.  It details the story of Julie, aka Miyax, a young Inuit girl on the North Slope of Alaska.

A long list of family issues put Julie in a position of being in the Alaskan tundra alone.  In short order, she discovers a wolf pack and co-exists with them.  She develops an ability to communicate to the wolves, so she can receive water and food.

  It also shows Julie’s ability to overcome incredibly hard circumstances both personally and environmentally to become the person she was supposed to become.

All in all, these books are simple ways to introduce adventure to young minds.  Many youth are far and away from reading actual printed books, preferring to listen to them on audio or read them digitally.

Most children’s books are offered with an audible version so consider that if you are attempting to get children interested in reading such things.   

As I mentioned earlier, we read daily to our kids as they were growing up and both of our children now read and listen to books regularly, and also write as well.  I am convinced that reading to them early on was part of that development.

Hopefully, I will see you soon leaned up against a tree somewhere reading a book as I travel on, or off the trail!

Craig Caudill is a lifelong resident of Winchester and serves as Director of Nature Reliance School. He is the author of Extreme Wilderness Survival, Ultimate Wilderness Gear and Essential Wilderness Navigation (April 2019).  Please feel free to contact Craig at or through any of the various social media platforms available.