Booklist: Favorite Adventure Stories

As a quarantine project, I went through some old records of books we read as my kids were growing up. I will be publishing these over the coming weeks in sections. There are probably many other wonderful choices out there, but these are some we enjoyed. Feel free to comment with your suggestions and we can keep the list going.

Today’s topic is adventure stories. Some of these are books my kids read themselves but many were family read-alouds or audiobooks. If you think reading aloud is just for little kids, I beg you to reconsider. I always used lunchtimes as a chance to read. The kids are a captive audience and it is a good diet aid for mom ūüėČ

To keep things as simple as possible, I am going to divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Favorite Adventure Stories

Adams, Douglas.¬†Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series) and¬†Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (series). These books have some adult content, more in terms of theology than¬† . .¬† . er, gender relations but we really like them. Dirk Gently is a lesser known treasure and light be a better place to start. Teens.

Aiken, Joan.  Wolves of Willoughby Chase (series). My daughter read this series. Wolves, sea voyages, orphans. All sorts of good elements. I believe she has other series as well. Middle years.

Appleton, Victor. Tom Swift (series). These are older boys’ adventure stories that my older son enjoyed. I believe there is a newer series too so look for the older one. Middle years.

Baum. L. Frank. The Wizard of Oz (series). The original series is a bit bizarre and not much like the movie. Middle years +.

Blyton, Enid. Famous Five (series). Older books about kids adventuring/solving mysteries. She has other series as well. Middle years.

Buchanan, John. The Thirty-Nine Steps. We really enjoyed this mystery. Middle years +.

Burroughs, Edgar Rice. Tarzan of the Apes. I read this one myself and found it a bit pulpish but it is a classic book and not bad. Middle years +.

Cameron, Eleanor. Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet. Another older book. Space travel. I believe there are more in the series but  I am not sure how they are. Middle years. Could definitely be enjoyed by elementary ages too.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A weird classic. Middle years.

Christie, Agatha. And then There were None, et. al. More mystery than adventure but these classic books are good for kids too. Middle years +.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Lost World. A great book from the Sherlock Holmes author. Middle years.

du Bois, William Pene. Twenty-One Balloons. A wonderful older book about a hot air balloon flight and the eruption of the volcano on Krakatoa. Elementary-middle years.

Fleischman, Sid. By the Great Horn Spoon. Historical Fiction re the CA Gold Rush. Funny. Elementary to middle years. He has other books which may be good as well.

Funke, Cornelia. Theif Lord. Street urchins in Venice. Funke had many other books as well, some easier, some harder and they vary in quality. Middle years.

Gaiman, Neil. Odd and the Frost Giants. A fantastical Viking tale. Try Coraline as well though it is a bit bizarre. Elementary-middle years.

Goldman, William. The Princess Bride. The book on which the famous movie is based. As good as the movie is, my daughter tells me the book is much better. Middle years.

Haggard, H. Rider. Allan Quartermain (series). Haggard is an older author with a number of good books. King Solomon’s Mines is a favorite. Middle years +.

Hammett, Daschell. Maltese Falcon. Classic noir book. Teens.

Hilton, James.¬†Lost Horizon. I loved this older classic about a kind of Utopia in the mountains of Nepal (?). There’s a lot to think about here. It’s not a hard read. Middle years and up. See how our literary discussion went here.

Hirsch, Odo. Bartlett (series). Funny adventurous stories. Some of his other series are good too. Elementary-middle years.

Horvath, Polly. My One Hundred Adventures and Northward to the Moon. Horvath has lots of good books. Middle years.

Juster, Norton.¬†The Phantom Tollbooth. A don’t miss class. Elementary – middle years.

Kipling, Rudyard. Captains Courageous and The Jungle Book. Classic tales. Middle years.

Konigsburg, E.L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Wonderful, fun story. Middle years.

Lawson, Robert. The Fabulous Flight. Lawson has lots of great books, often featuring animals. In this one a boy shrinks and has an adventure on a seagull. Elementary-middle years.

Lindgren, Astrid.¬†Ronia: The Robber’s Daughter. From the author of Pippi Longstocking. Elementary-middle years.

London, Jack. Call of the Wild and White Fang. Classic dog stories. Middle years.

Merrill, Jean.¬†Pushcart War. I am not sure it is quite adventure but we loved this book about a kind of kids’ crusade. Elementary-middle.

Nesbit, E.¬†The Story of the Treasure Seekers. All of Nesbit’s books are wonderful. Middle years.

Norton, Mary. Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The book the old Disney movie is based on. Elementary-middle years.

O’Dell, Scott.¬†Island of the Blue Dolphins. O’Dell has lots of wonderful books, many of them historical fiction. Middle years.

Orczy, Emma.¬†The Scarlet Pimpernel. Wonderful books set during the French Revolution (I will have another historical list but I couldn’t resist including this one here too.) Middle years +.

Paulsen, Gary. Rifle, Hatchet and Mr. Tucket (series). Paulsen has wonderful outdoorsy adventure stories that boys will love. Middle years.

Reaves, James (ed.). Exploits of Don Quixote. My kids really loved this edition of the classic novel. Though I would call it even high school level we read it when they were in elementary.

Sachar, Louis.¬†Holes. Again, maybe not adventure per see but there are adventurous things that happen. I have a friend who hated this book but we liked it. I’m not sure about the sequels. Middle years. His Wayside School series are decent chapter books as well.

Scott, Walter. Ivanhoe and others. Classic Scottish novels. Teens.

Stevenson, Robert Louis.¬†Kidnapped and¬†Treasure Island. Classic pirate stories. I found my kids didn’t appreciate them till at least upper elementary. Middle years +.

Thurber, James. Wonderful O. The story of a land without the letter O. Middle years.

Twain, Mark.¬†The Adventure of Tom Sawyer and¬†The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These will also be included in my boys’ books list but they are must-reads for everyone so I am including them ere too. Middle years.

Verne, Jules. It is hard to pick just one book by this author. His name should be synonymous with adventure tales. Some of our favorites are 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days. Middle years +.

Wells, H.G. The Time Machine. Wells is more science fiction than adventure. He has a number of classic books. Teens.

Woodfine, Katherine. The Clockwork Sparrow. Set in Victorian England. Middle years.

2 responses to this post.

  1. […] continue today with booklists I have put together over the years. Last time we looked at adventure stories.¬† Today’s topic is animal stories. These are not our nature lore books (see instead this […]


  2. […] continue today with booklists I have put together over the years. So far we looked at adventure stories and animal stories.¬† Today’s topic is the life of boys, those books which depict a […]


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