I love a good adventure book — do your kids? The action zips along to keep readers entertained throughout. The plots range from curious to peculiar to crazy. Try one of these best adventure books. I think they’ll keep your kids reading good books. (Reviews for beginning readers up to teen readers.)
Battle Bugs #1: The Lizard War by Jack Patton (ages 6 – 8)
Max LOVES bugs — but he never expects to become one! Not that he’s a bug, he decides to help his new bug friends fight the invading lizards who want the bug’s island. Adventure, battles, and bugs make this a fun first read in a new early chapter book series.
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot The Voodoo Vultures from Venus by Dav Pilkey, illustrated by Dan Santat (ages 6 – 8)
Kudos to Dav Pilkey and Dan Santat for creating such an action-packed, engaging new series for young readers. And the illustrations are marvelous. It’s not often you see a book in full color – love that!
Ferno the Fire Dragon (Beast Quest #1) by Adam Blade (ages 7 – 9)
This is a short, early chapter book about a young boy, Tom, who gets to go on a quest just like his father before him. Tom quest is to free the dragon from the enchanted collar which is making him destroy the kingdom. It’s a decent story –short, adventurous, and features a kid-hero. What could be better than that!?
Catnapped! Puppy Pirates by Erin Soderbergh (ages 6 – 8)
Calling all dog lovers! Read about the most awesome pirate puppies who due to an unfortunate prank one pulled, are now prisoners on the pirate kitten’s ship –with no escape. This is a charming and funny rollicking adventure and #3 in the new Puppy Pirate series. See also: Puppy Pirates #1 Stowaway and Puppy Pirates #2 x Marks the Spot.
Dio-Mike and the T.Rex Attack by Franco (ages 6 – 8)
Michael travels with his paleontologist dad. On this particular trip, Mike wanders off and meets a girl who is trying to trap a REAL dinosaur to send it back in time from where it came. I think kids will enjoy this first book in a new dinosaur adventure series. It’s a simple adventure book with kid-appeal.
Ivy and Bean (ages 6 – 8)
This daring duo seems an unlikely pair which makes their adventures all the more entertaining. Addicting reads.
The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt (ages 6 – 8)
Caught picking her nose . . . and eating it . . . means Mabel Jones gets taken by animal pirates to another world of animals. This is a fun adventure filled with crazy characters, a dramatic narrator, and goofy illustrations.
Nanny Piggins and the Runaway Lion by R. A. Spratt, illustrated by Dan Santat (ages 6 – 8)
I can’t believe I missed this series until now! It’s totally charming and entertaining. This is another adventure about a family with children whose dad detests the children and tries to get rid of them (to Nicaragua in this case) but their amazing nanny (who is a pig) always figures out how to outsmart the dad. I love Nanny Piggins!
Recipe for Adventure #1 Naples! by Giada De Laurentiis (ages 6 – 8)
Time-travel back to Naples, Italy with siblings Emilia and Alfie where they discover a world of pizza and help a new friend and his family with the important missing ingredient. Plus, 2 recipe cards. A great cooking adventure for 8-year olds!
The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (ages 6 – 8)
This is a simple but charming story about a mouse grows up at Buckingham Palace longing for an identity. Not only does he not know his parents, he doesn’t even know his name! Happily, his adventures lead him to a very satisfactory conclusion.
Race the Wild series by Kristin Earhart (ages 7 – 9)
Starting with #1 Rain Forest Relay and now with the latest, #4 Savanna Showdown, this adventure series is quick to read and constant action. Plus, each book is filled with interesting facts about the ecosystem the the creatures who live there. Savanna Showdown ends the reality adventure race with Team Red winning on the last leg in Africa.
Killer Species by Michael P. Spradlin (ages 7 – 10)
I loved this fast-paced adventure series about a mad scientist who creates a hybrid crocodile-dinosaur-bird killer creature to stop visitors from entering the Everglades. Emmet and his father arrive to investigate but when his father is kidnapped, Emmet and his friend, Calvin, know it’s up to them to find where the kidnapper is holding Emmet’s father. GREAT for reluctant readers — and anyone who loves a crazy sci-fi who-done-it!
Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior by Cube Kid, illustrated by Saboten (ages 7 – 12)
Runt is a 12-year old with real problems. He doesn’t want to be a typical villager with the typical boring life. He wants to be a warrior like Steve. So he’s excited when his school finally agrees that the villagers might need warriors to fight back against the nightly attacks. When Steve loses everything and moves in with Runt’s family, Runt hopes that Steve will help with warrior training. But it’s a guy named Mike whose in the village jail that helps because Steve is too depressed. Runt’s a relatable, mostly serious, character who just wants a different life — like most kids his age and is competing for a dream opportunity.
The Zombie Chasers by John Kloepfer and Steve Wolfhard (ages 7 – 10)
Filled with cartoon illustrations, this early chapter book series highlights the bravery of a group of friends (and siblings) who will save the world from zombies. A fun adventure of kid-power.
Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown by Bob Pflugfelder, Steve Hockensmith (ages 7 – 10)
I LOVE this series. This is a great wrap up (sad, I know) of the Nick and Tesla STEM adventures. The twins must rescue their parents and believe it or not, Uncle Newt will help. Of course this action-packed story includes directions for creating your own projects such as a hot-dog cooker and alarm.
Lost in the Pacific, 1942: Not a Drop to Drink by Tod Olson (ages 8 – 12)
Hero Rescue Mission by Jennifer Li Shotz
Survivor Diaries Overboard! by Terry Lynn Johnson (ages 8 – 12)
The Jolly Regina: The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Jen Hill (ages 8 – 12)
Even before their parents disappeared, Jaundice and Kale Bland loathed excitement and adventure. But their boring existence is rudely disrupted when they are kidnapped by all-female pirates. Who would have thought they could adapt to pirate life, search for their long-lost pirate parents, and return home with the exact same desire for boring as when they left? Funny and very entertaining!
The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides (ages 9 – 12)
If you like goofy stories with magic and adventure, you’re going to love this story. It’s about a foster kid named Ace who opens a peanut butter jar only to release a genie named Ridge. Ridge tells Ace that Ace is a Wishmaker and now he must complete a mission in seven days OR ELSE all dogs and cats will turn into zombies … and destroy mankind. So begins a wild quest across America. And even though Ace has unlimited wishes, every wish has a (usually weird) consequence. So if he gets his wish to fly, his consequence is that any bird near him will poop on him. One big wish made his arm fall off for a day. It’s a goofy, entertaining story that ends with another Wishmaker being kidnapped by an ancient, evil genie setting it up for the next book in the series.
The Misadventures of Max Crumbly by Rachel Renee Russell (ages 8 – 12)
If you like slapstick, will-you-never-learn stories, then this is for you. Max is always opening his big mouth and getting in trouble. Currently, he’s writing and drawing his life story from the inside of his locker after a bully stuffed him in there FOR THE SECOND TIME of the day. No cell phone, a three day weekend, a lie to his parents who think he’s staying with someone overnight, and Max doesn’t know how he’ll survive!
Edge of Extinction The Ark Plan by Laura Martin (ages 8 – 12)
Action from the first page! This is a crazy good story about a dangerous world where cloned dinosaurs have taken over the world. Sky and her fellow humans live below ground in safety with Noah as their supreme ruler. Sky discovers that her missing (maybe traitor?) father left her a secret note with cryptic instructions on how to find him. She leaves the underground city in search. Barely outside a day, she and her friend Shawn are rescued from hungry dinosaurs by a boy who lives in a treetop enclave. When his enclave is attacked by Noah’s soldiers looking for her, Sky realizes that everything she believed about Noah is wrong and is even more determined to find her father. LOVED it!
Boy X by Dan Smith (ages 8 – 12)
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny (ages 8 – 12)
So you may know that I’m a scaredy cat but I did it – I read a slightly scary book. (It would only be scary to young kids I think.) And I was impressed! Not only is this story compelling and interesting, the symbolism and life lessons were stunning. So, the plot . . . Charlie’s dad has remarried and moved Charlie and his younger brother into the stepmother’s frightening purple mansion. There Charlie begins to have the most horrible nightmares — nightmares that blur between reality and dream. And when the witches steal Charlie’s brother into the nightmare world, he goes to rescue his brother. Charlie and his friends must learn to face their fears in order for the nightmare world not to have access to the real world. I think this book would be great in a book club for discussion about fears, real and perceived.
Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson (ages 8 – 12)
I thought this was not just a great story but I loved that the main character (the ninja) was a girl! And it’s written in combo of text and comics.
Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart (ages 8 – 12)
Sent to an isolated boy’s prison, Jonathan has little time to adjust before all the prison’s adults are killed in a freak lightening accident. Soon a Lord of the Flies scenario develops, Jonathan’s friend is banished from the group, and a mysterious old librarian gives Jonathan books to read that strangely seem perfect for his situation. When a dangerous storm threatens the entire island, Jonathan must decide if he will abandon his guilt and step up to help the other boys. Moral dilemmas, suspense and action, plus good writing make this an engrossing adventure.
The Explorer by Katherine Rundell (ages 8 – 12)
Tyrannosaurus Ralph by Nate Evans and Vince Evans (ages 8 – 12)
Horizon by Scott Westerfeld (ages 8 – 12)
First of seven in the series written by different authors, Scott Westerfeld of Uglies fame, kicks us off with this first book about a plane crash over the Arctic Circle with only 8 kid survivors. The wrecked plane lands in a sinister jungle filled with attacking vines, shredder birds, and two moons in the sky. What happened to the Artic? When the kids find an anti-gravity tool, they use it to help them fly so they can locate water and eventually, hunt for answers to where they are. Because they suspect someone engineered this dangerous world and more importantly, they need their help –Molly is getting sicker from the glowing green bird bite on her shoulder and they don’t want another death. (Yes, there is the death of the adults and one kid who dies in the story, too.)
PLAY the Horizon video game on the Scholastic site.
Read an excerpt here.
Theodore Boone The Scandal by John Grisham (ages 8 – 12)
This is my first Theodore Boone novel and I enjoyed it. I picked this book because it’s about teachers cheating on standardized tests. I think students, teachers, and parents can all relate to hating standardized tests so you’ll find this plot relatable and intriguing. Theodore, a helpful kid known for his burgeoning lawyering skills, learns his friend wrote an anonymous letter to turn in the cheating teachers. Both he and his friend are conflicted, especially when the teachers lose their jobs and are prosecuted.
Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas by Jonathan W. Stokes (ages 8 – 12)
I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed adventure story. Addison and Molly’s archeologist aunt and uncle are kidnapped for their specialized knowledge about the Incas and their famed, hidden treasure. But the kidnappers have underestimated the persistence and brilliance of Addison and Molly who, with their friends, pursue the treasure and their aunt and uncle.
Classy Crooks Club by Alison Cherry (ages 8 – 12)
AJ’s parents are leaving on a research trip so she must stay with her very strict grandmother Jo who doesn’t approve of AJ’s soccer and skateboarding, and other non-ladylike pursuits. After hearing strange sounds, AJ discovers a room filled with exotic, talking birds and learns that her proper grandmother has “rescued” these birds from bad environments. In fact, grandma Jo and her old lady friends are a team of crooks, a heist club. And they want AJ’s help. Well-written and interesting, this is an excellent mystery and coming-of-age story.
Johnny Hangtime by Dan Gutman (ages 8 – 12)
He’s a real stuntkid, the take-all-the-risks, get-no-credit kind and Johnny loves it. This is a high-octane adventure where Johnny will face the same stunt that killed his father. Will he do it or is it time to quit the business? And wait until you get to the plot twist . . . !
The Worst Night Ever by Dave Berry, illustrated by Jon Cannell (ages 8 – 12)
When two seniors, the popular but nasty Bevin brothers, see Wyatt’s friend’s Matt’s ferret and steal it, life gets very complicated. Wyatt, Matt, and another friend decide to steal back the ferret from the Bevin’s house but in doing so, they stumble upon a very sinister secret — an illegal exotic animal trade! Their discovery unleashes even more trouble than they could have imagined. Fast-paced and engaging, this is a funny, edge-of-your-seat, adventure not to be missed.
Welcome to Wonderland Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein (ages 8 – 12)
P.T. (named after the other P.T.) tells the most creative stories — and it’s his creativity that hopefully will save his family’s motel from the bank. With only a month to raise $100,000, he and his new friend, the math whiz, Gloria Ortega, think they can do it with some unique promotions that include a talking frog and a pirate’s buried treasure. Unfortunately, they come up short only to discover that there might be REAL buried treasure somewhere at the motel.
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes (ages 8 – 12)
Now that I’ve read this book, I can’t wait to read all of Jewel Parker Rhodes other books — this was amazing! We follow the youngest daughter of sisters as she visits her grandmère in the bayou for the first time. There, she discovers that she’s inherited her grandmother’s special connection (magic, if you will) with nature. Maddy loves loves everything about the bayou, including her new best friend, Bear, who has a father with severe alcohol issues. Trouble comes to the bayou when the big rig spills oil and makes it way towards them. Maddy calls upon her magical connection with the river goddess to stop the spill and save the Bon Temps bayou.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (ages 8 – 12)
Kyle and a few classmates win a sleep over at the new town newly created library by game-creator Mr. Lemoncello. The silly Mr. Lemoncello devises a fun way to get OUT of the library — you can only get out if you solve the puzzles around the entire library. Will the kids work together or will it be every child for himself? (Next in the series: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics.) Book clubs, this would be a fun book to read especially paired with the downloadable activities on Grabenstein’s website.
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz (ages 8 – 12)
This is the story of three children and one dog in medieval France on the run from the King. It tackles big issues such as faith, God, prejudice, friendship, and family. The writing, the story, the characters, and the themes all pack a big punch adding up to a compelling novel that will make you think deeply and leave you changed.
Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams (ages 8 – 12)
In pursuit of his missing father, Will finds a crazy, cult-like subterranean group controlled by frightening leaders who will stop at nothing to maintain control and order in their colony below the surface. I couldn’t put this book down and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard (ages 8 – 12)
Darkus Cuttle’s museum director dad mysteriously disappears from a locked room in the museum. Darkus learns that there’s something very strange going on . . . and it has to do with intelligent beetles and a cruel benefactress of the museum. This middle grade chapter book took me by surprise; I really loved it.
Loot by Jude Watson (ages 10 – 13)
Once I opened this chapter book, I couldn’t put it down! When March’s dad falls off a building in his last jewel robbery (accident or not?), March is sent to foster care where he meets the twin he didn’t know he had. With the help of two friends at the foster home, they decide to escape and finish March’s dad’s plan to steal all the cursed Moonstones. One of the best adventures of 2014 – I loved it!
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith (ages 8 – 12)
The Iron Tomb (Pyramid Hunters) by Peter Vegas (ages 8 – 12)
Sam arrives for summer vacation in Egypt only to discover his uncle is missing — and he is being hunted. Sam accepts the help of a friendly taxi driver and a rich girl from his plane ride (who both are hiding something) and follows the clues his uncle left behind. It looks like his uncle might have found one of the Arks of the Covenant and could be trapped there. But will Sam get to him before the thieves? An action-packed story in an interesting part of the world.
Extreme Adventures series by Justin D’Ath (ages 8 – 12)
I read Shark Bait in the Extreme Adventure series and though it was a fantastic book, especially for kids who love action, danger, adventure, with some cool environmental focus thrown in for extra pizazz.
Stranded by Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts (ages 8 – 12)
Honestly, I was totally surprised that I liked this book. It’s a great adventure with real-to-life conflict between new step-siblings who are on a sailboat trip with their uncle. A storm sinks their ship and they barely make it to a deserted island. They’ll have to work together to survive. And hope their parents can find them. Great reading for anyone who loves action and adventure.
Chasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman (ages 8 – 12)
Aidan and Meg Falconer are their parents’ only hope. The Falconers are facing life in prison — unless Aidan and Meg can follow a trail of clues to prove their innocence. The problem? Right now they’re trapped in a juvenile detention center. Until they escape one night — and find themselves on the run, both from the authorities and from a sinister attacker who has his own reason to stop them. The Falconers must use their wits to make it across the country … with plenty of tests along the way.
Crime Travelers by Paul Aertker (A Lucas Benes Novel) (ages 8 – 12)
This action packed adventure of teenage spies proves that kids are totally capable, smart, and able to handle anything — even brainwashing, crime, and a stolen baby. All in Paris!
The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz (ages 8 – 12)
Alex’s parents raised him in their secret society of super villains, training him all his life for a life of villainy. He surprises himself in a battle when he saves the life of his enemy, a Ranger of Justice girl named Kirbie. They secretly become friends making Alex question his entire life and the next big mission to wipe out all of the Rangers. Very adventurous and interesting!
The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele (ages 8 – 12)
John and his sister are orphans who live with their mean, coffin-maker Great-Aunt Beauregard, who wants them to permanently sign on to the family coffin making business. Determined to have a different life, the siblings run away. Their adventures are wild (joining a circus) and heart-warming (living a kind-hearted baker). Throughout the story, John grows to realize that his fear of failure is holding him back from being a great inventor. This is a quirky, fun story with lovable characters. I especially loved the character of Boz, a wordsmith that will remind you of Captain Jack Sparrow for his uh, elocutions ramblings.
Hypnotists by Gordon Korman (ages 8 – 12)
Mix the action-packed writing of Korman with a boy who can hypnotize others – and who is recruited to be in a “special” school to save the world. But is that really what the school does? Another hit for the talented Gordon Korman!
Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson (ages 8 – 12)
My daughter loved this series but I have to admit it had too many main characters for me so I didn’t enjoy it. However, if you like Disney and non-stop adventure, you’ll love these books. Our main characters, teenagers, protect the park agains the Disney villains. At least they will try. Because catching the bad guys isn’t always easy.
Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop (ages 8 – 12)
Davey gets swept out to sea. He finds an empty water container to help him stay afloat but he’s getting tired. And sharks are circling. Meanwhile his family is frantically looking for him and don’t even realize he went to the secluded beach. Great action and suspense throughout this adventure.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (ages 8 – 12)
This is a must-read, excellent Newbery winning book about amazing lab rats with intelligence who escape from the lab and form their own community. This was always one of my fifth graders favorite read-alouds.
To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson (ages 8 – 12)
Someone is trying to frame Jackson for a prank he didn’t even commit — and they’re doing a great job of it! It will take months to prove the video is falsified and by then Jackson will have missed the robot contest due to his punishment. Jackson and his friends are determined to prove their innocence but it won’t be easy. This is a great adventure filled with twists and turns. I very much enjoyed it.
Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey (ages 8 – 12)
Who would think that the pirate ghosts in his bedroom would help the quiet, shy Lewis find adventure and bravery? Well, maybe you the reader would. Seven Dead Pirates is an excellent pirate adventure about growing up and about getting the rowdy ghost pirates to behave, sneak to their ship in a museum so they can fight another ghost pirate crew for it and steal it.
Seaborne: The Lost Prince by Matt Myklusch (ages 8 – 12)
In this well-written, fantastic action and adventure novel, Dean Seaborne grows up on a pirate ship as their best spy and con-artist. But when he messes up the latest mission, he must pass himself off as the long-lost prince of the mysterious island of Zenhala. Once there, he must find and steal the treasure for the pirates. But strangely, Dean really might be the long-lost prince and he’s not sure he wants to rob the island anymore.
The Outcasts: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 1 by John Flanagan (ages 8 – 12)
I’m a new John Flanagan fan — this is an amazing, well-written adventure about a young, fatherless boy named Hal whose mom was an Araluen slave. To survive the town’s prejudice against him, he is helped by another outcast, his dead father’s former shipmate, a one-armed recovering drunk. When it’s time for his Brotherband training, he becomes the leader of a rag-tag group of boys. They’ll complete against better, stronger teams who don’t always play fair . The stakes are high and Hal must win even with his group of misfits.
Crossing the Line (The Raven Files) by Meghan Rogers (ages 8 – 12)
This is a captivating, action-packed adventure about a former teenage North Korean spy and assassin, Jocelyn. Now she’s in the U.S. and is working with her parents previous spy agency. She’s supposed to feed North Korea intel but she’s giving them garbage because she’s loyal to the U.S. Life is complicated. No one trusts her. And there’s still the problem of her missing father. Cliff-hanger alert and some language.
Pilfer Academy: a School So Bad It’s Criminal by Lauren Magaziner (ages 8 – 12)
Mischievous George is kidnapped from home and forced to attend a school for crooks — where the teachers are criminal and also not very familiar with words and pronunciation (this will make you laugh!) George goes along with his new program and classes but he feels awful when he’s bored to steal a child’s teddy bear. He realizes that maybe he is not cut out for a life of crime. The problem is how to escape? Because if kids who don’t make it at the school disappear. For good. Excellent!
Beneath by Roland Smith (ages 9 – 12)
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (ages 13+)
I enjoyed this fast-paced adventure and mystery book but if your child reads it, it requires some background knowledge of the U.S. political structure because the story takes place in D.C. with all the movers and shakers. So, learn what the Whip is. That kind of thing. But, I really liked the overarching themes of friendship, forgiveness, and redemption and found it to be a thrilling adventure story.
I Am the Mission by Allen Madoff (ages 13+)
The second book in the Unknown Assassin series, this fast-paced adventure will keep your kids (advanced readers and teens) hooked until the last page. At least it did for me. (The first book was just as good and the third comes out June 2015.) So we pick up after the last assignment where our teenage assassin had doubts, botched the job initially, and then finished it. This assignment is to kill the leader of a radical militia camp for teenagers. Only everything goes wrong. Like maybe his handlers want him dead, too!
The 5th Wave by
The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Michael Vey #1) by Richard Paul Evans (ages 12+)
A fantastic sci-fi adventure series about a boy with electrical powers, and an evil group who wants to control him and others like him.
Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling by Tony Cliff (ages 13+)
This exciting adventure YA graphic novel is about a kick-butt heroine whose world travels are cut short when she returns home to England to get revenge, clear her name, and save the British army, even if she has to be her alter-ego, proper lady while she’s there.
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