Help your child release their inner wild. These colorful, enriching, and suspenseful stories of wilderness survival will be sure to ignite a wonder and respect for the great outdoors and for those who call them home. From the perspective of young girls, boys, and even a dinosaur, these books will bring to light the very really struggles of surviving in the wilderness, the great satisfaction that come with overcoming trials, and the incredible beauty of the natural world.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Sam Gribley, a 15-year-old boy, is terribly unhappy living in New York City with his family, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods—all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. Sam learns about courage, danger, and independence during his year in the wilderness, a year that changes his life forever.
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. Set in 1800 century Maine, 13-year-old Matt faces responsibility bravely, but is more than a little apprehensive when his father leaves him alone to guard their new cabin in the wilderness. When a renegade white stranger steals his gun, Matt realizes he has no way to shoot game or to protect himself. When Matt meets Attean, a Native American boy in the Beaver clan, he begins to better understand their way of life and their growing problem in adapting to the white man and the changing frontier.
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At thirteen, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband’s parents’ home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her “gussak”-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive initially with only the aid of a hatchet given by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents’ divorce. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous? Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage.
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry. Mafatu was afraid of the sea. It had taken his mother when he was a baby, and it seemed to him that the sea gods sought vengeance at having been cheated of Mafatu. So, though he was the son of the Great Chief of Hikueru, a race of Polynesians who worshipped courage, and he was named Stout Heart, he feared and avoided the sea, till everyone branded him a coward. When he could no longer bear their taunts, he determined to conquer that fear or be conquered– so he went off in his canoe, alone except for his little dog and pet albatross. A storm gave him his first challenge. Then days on a desert island found him resourceful beyond his own expectation. This is the story of how his courage grew and how he finally returned home. This is a legend. It happened many years ago, but even today the people of Hikueru sing this story and tell it over their evening fires.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim. Once, Native Americans also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind. — This is the story of Karana, who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Joseph B. Egan. Based on the true story of a 12-year-old Donn Fendler who was separated from his family while hiking Mt. Katahdin and was lost in a dense sea of fog. For nine days he wandered through the wilderness suffering from hunger, exposure, and unwelcome encounters with local wildlife.
Downriver by Will Hobbs. No adults, no permit, no river map. Just some “borrowed” gear from Discovery Unlimited, the outdoor education program Jessie and her new companions have just ditched. Jessie and the others are having the time of their lives floating beneath sheer red walls, exploring unknown caves and dangerous waterfalls, and plunging through the Grand Canyon’s roaring rapids. No one, including Troy, who emerges as the group’s magnetic and ultimately frightening leader, can for see the challenges and conflicts.
Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson. Victoria Secord, a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods is entirely up to her.
Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker. Look at life through the eyes of one of history’s top predators, the Utahraptor. This book follows a year in Raptor Red’s life as she loses her mate, finds her family, and struggles to survive in a hostile environment. Raptor Red combines fact and fiction to capture for the first time the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of the most magnificent, enigmatic creatures ever to walk the face of the earth.