Reading List: Adventure Kid’s Bookshelf

12 great reads for aspiring outdoor adventurers

A colorful variety of books that you and your outdoorsy child will love, whether you’re already out in the woods or dreaming of your next adventure. The diverse selection covers many different interests while all remaining outdoor oriented. Choose from epic adventures, outdoor education, poetic wisdom, to even parenting books that give advice on raising a little explorer. Most adventures take place outside, but some of the most important ones begin within a child’s imagination.


Miss Rumphius

Written By: Barbara Cooney

Miss Rumphius is a picture book written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney and published by Viking Books in 1982. The illustrations are authentically beautiful and the story is simple and sweet. It tells the story of Miss Rumphius’s life of simply wanting to make the world more beautiful by planting lupines everywhere she went. The fictional Miss Rumphius is based on Hilda Hamlin, the real “Lupine Lady” who was known for spreading lupine seeds on every walk or car ride she took.

“I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting. …It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand. ‘…a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.’ So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to, or draw down to, children. –Barbara Cooney

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Written by: Michael Rosen

This story takes you and your littlest adventurer on a silly quest with a family in search of a bear! You may remember the classic camp chant it’s based on that is also called We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  It’s a quick and exciting read that takes you across a river, through the mud, into a snowstorm, and at the entrance of a spooky cave. Be prepared for lots of giggles and gasps as your journey takes you closer to…the bear!


Lonely Planet’s How Animals Build

Written by: Michael Leach

This one is packed with excellent information that your nature-loving kids will eat up! Lonely Planet Kid’s How Animals Build explores the incredible world of animal architects with beautiful illustrations in a lift-the-flap hardback allowing kids to interact and discover the amazing homes creatures can build. It covers just about everything from spider webs, rabbit warrens, bird nests, ant colonies, coral reefs, beaver lodges, you name it. You and your kid will naturally be drawn to this beautiful and fascinating book.

“Do bees need cement mixers to build hives? Do beavers use cranes to construct dams? No, of course not! Like many animals, they’re building geniuses who don’t need building site tools to create incredible work. Welcome to nature’s very own, super-clever world of construction.” –

What a Waste: Where Does Garbage Go?

Written by: Claire Eamer 
Illustrated by: Bambi Edlund

In all that’s going on in our world, this is an important one! What a Waste dives into the history of garbage and how it’s evolved through time while also covering dumps, human waste, and water pollution. It also explores “problem garbage” and “modern throwaway culture.” The silly and humorous illustrations offer an inviting and enjoyable experience while you learn about rubbish.


Animals build character Series

Written and Illustrated by: Aviva Hermelin

This book series prides itself on “promoting compassion, respect, and responsibility from observing animal wisdom.” It offers a unique way to give your children the building blocks for developing character. The beautiful illustrations help demonstrate the thoughtfulness behind the wisdom, mindfulness, and respect represented in each of the different animals. At the end of each chapter, there are questions to initiate conversation with your children, focused on the importance of living a life based on positive values and good character traits. 

An Egret’s Day

Poems by: Jane Yolen
Photographs by: Jason Stemple 

This book exemplifies the beauty in simplicity by combining the art of poetry and photography in order to appreciate the nature of the egret.   Each page includes a poem, a photograph and a descriptive paragraph about egrets where you and your child can learn about what they eat, how they fly, how tall they stand, and other tidbits of egret life.


A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

Written and Illustrated by: Chris Van Dusen

Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, take a camper and go out into the forest to enjoy a peaceful camping trip. The true adventure begins when they suddenly find themselves and the camper racing down a mounting and teetering on the edge of a huge waterfall! This book is an exciting and silly adventure tale filled with bright colorful pictures and playful rhyming text. 

Whistling Wings

Written by: Laura Goering
Illustrated by: Laura Jacques

Whistling Wings is an eye-catching book for the 5-9 age group that follows the young swan, Marcel, as he figures out how to survive the winter season. He and the rest of his flock were traveling south for the winter and stopped to take a rest. The tired Marcel hides to avoid the long flight that still lied ahead. But with the lake nearly frozen over, he soon realizes that he is not cut out for life on ice. Other animals offer advice about how to survive the winter, but their ways of living aren’t right for the swan. This book teaches addressing responsibility, the consequences of laziness, and adapting to new situations and trying to make the most of them. 

Operation Redwood 

Written by: S. Terrell French

Follow Julian Carer-Li as he finds himself caught up in a fight against his high-powered uncle to save the oldest trees on Earth. His uncle’s company plans to cut down California’s oldest redwood trees and once Julian and his ragtag group of friends come up with clever ways to stop it. This thrilling and thoughtful novel shows the power of determined individuals, no matter what their age, along with the values of trust, honesty, and commitment to a cause.

Based on History

Camping With the President

Written by: Ginger Wadsworth 
Illustrated by: Karen Dugan

This historically accurate book highlights the heartwarming story about outdoor icons Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir who send take a camping trip in the outdoors together in May of 1903. They head out into Yosemite National Park, making it a point to dismiss Secret Service men and reports away. The illustrations of their journey are beautiful. In the four days, they spend out there, they discuss the beauty and wonders of the outdoors and the importance to protect it. 

The Pole 

Written by: Eric Walters

Based on true events of Robert Peary’s expedition in 1909 to be the first men to reach the Pole, we follow the youngest crew member, Danny who finds himself on a journey of a lifetime. The adventure includes dog sledding, polar bears, freezing temperatures, thin ice, and epic determination for reaching their goal.

This story features Canadian hero Robert Bartlett, captain of The Roosevelt, and Matthew Henson, Peary’s assistant and the first African-American Arctic explorer.


Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors 

Written by: Eugen Buchanan

This book offers great insights and advice for parents to instill respect for health and environment in their kids at a young age and most importantly…Help get them outside! Includes information on biking, camping, swimming, paddling, snowsports, hiking, fishing, and climbing as ways to get outside and to have your child grow up with an active lifestyle. 

Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children 

Written by: Angela J. Hanscom

This unique and important book is written by a pediatric occupational therapist that expresses how outdoor play and unstructured freedom of movement are vital for children’s cognitive development and growth. The book also offers tons of fun, engaging ways to help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults. Balanced and Barefoot also discusses how modern lifestyles filled with television, video games, and computer screens can creep in and take over your child’s life. Hanscom includes studies showing the cognitive harm in lack of movement and offers information on the importance of outdoor play in developing kid’s sensory, motor, and executive functions. 

Places to Go, Things to See: