Book Recommendations for Children

September 21, 2011


In previous posts, I mentioned some audio books we have enjoyed and learned from as we’ve homeschooled. I wanted to expand on the list and mention some other great titles you may want to use for read-alouds or look for used on audio.


Most stories seem to fall into one of two categories- stranded on an island or pioneering- but all are well worth reading. There are many more good adventure books out there, so don’t be limited by our list. This is just what I can think of that we’ve read so far.

The Little House Series

One of the first series we shared was the Little House one by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The stories are interesting, family-centered, and model good work ethics. As you may recall from the television series, the stories are told from the daughter Laura’s point of view as the family develops a homestead in difficult places.

My Side of the Mountain

Another great book was My Side of the Mountain. In it, the main character heads out alone into the wilderness where he creates a shelter in a hollowed out tree and perseveres through a cold snowy winter and keeps a diary of his experience.

Julie of the Wolves

Julie of the Wolves is an interesting story of an Inuit girl who is forced into a young marriage and then runs off trying to reach a penpal in San Francisco. She is in the harsh tundra when she gains acceptance of a pack of wolves. Be forewarned though- we did this as a read-aloud and I skimmed over some of the harsh scenes with her husband since it was not appropriate for all ears.

The Cay

The Cay tells the story of a boy who ends up on a tiny Caribbean island with only a cat and an old black man. The boy is completely dependent on the West Indian man named Timothy because the torpedo that hit his ship left him blind.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins is also a story about being alone on an island, though this time it is a girl and she must contend with feral dogs. She learns to adapt and stand strong in the face of adversity and loss.

The Sign of the Beaver
In The Sign of the Beaver, an adolescent boy is left to defend and develop his pioneer homestead while his father goes back East for the rest of the family. The main character befriends a nearby Native American boy his own age and the friendship benefits them both.

Robinson Crusoe

You probably grew up hearing mention of Robinson Crusoe, but may never have read it. We listened to it (probably the better option given the old style and some of the archaic word choices) and the children really enjoyed it. The main character is shipwrecked on an island, alone and near despair until he rescues an unfortunate native from another island who was to be sacrificed by cannibals. It was quite interesting to hear about the clever ways the characters solved their problems, fencing in/out animals, making pottery, procuring food, and defending themselves.

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

We are presently listening to Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. It is actually not a “children’s book,” but our kids don’t have to know that. It’s a lengthy non-fiction book about all the things you didn’t know about the pilgrims (their hardships in the crossing, their mistakes in creating their settlement, the struggle to feed themselves, etc). It has been interesting, but it’s equal parts history book and story, so it doesn’t have the same appeal to our children as a lot of the “adventure” stories we’ve read. It works quite nicely into our homeschooling, though.

The Young Man and the Sea

The Young Man and the Sea shows a boy learning to rely on himself. After his mother dies, his father sinks into alcoholism and allows their fishing livelihood to slip away. After many attempts to get his father back to his senses, he makes a dangerous fishing trip out in the open ocean by himself.

Swiss Family Robinson

We really enjoyed the Swiss Family Robinson also. This shipwrecked family accomplished a lot in taming the island where they landed and managed to have quite a bit of fun too.

Why we chose them

Most of these books had “survival” themes and, as such, there were worthwhile elements in all of them with regards to preparedness and our philosophy of “training” children to think, work hard, etc. We’ve learned about innovative traps, unknown food sources, clever alternate uses for common items, and so on.

It’s important for me to note, however, that we do not limit ourselves to “prepping” or educational tomes only. We often read or listen to things just for the delight of the story.

Other family favorites have included Where the Red Fern Grows, Matilda, the Magic Treehouse series, Anne of Green Gables, the Chronicles of Narnia series, A Wrinkle in Time, The Incredible Journey, The Phantom Tollbooth and many others.

I have found some audio books at the library, some pre-owned CDs for sale online or by auction, and some at used book stores. Some are available for free download in MP3 form online also. I think once you get started sharing stories together, especially while driving, you will be hooked. It’s amazing how a good story will produce peace and quiet among siblings in the car!

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13 Comments on “Book Recommendations for Children”

  1. Arsenius the hermit Says:

    Some of those, I know. Others I haven’t heard of. The ones I recognized are good books which bodes well for the whole list!


  2. Deuce Says:

    Have you read Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Know it


    • Laura Says:

      I don’t know that one. Is it relatively recent? When I was a “regular” classroom teacher, I was pretty up-to-date on children’s literature, but now that I am no longer teaching middle schoolers (besides my own) full-time, I am out of the loop.

      Thanks for the suggestion. I will look into that one.


      • Deuce Says:

        The first one was probably published 2-4 years ago ( my copy is out on loan). The most recent in the trilogy was published last year. Curious to know what you think…



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