Gift Idea: Adventure Stories

For each person you ask to define “adventure” you are likely to get a different answer. The good news is, that however someone defines adventure, there is probably a book to go with it … and a librarian to help you find it.

Even though you don’t go to the library to buy books, children’s and teen librarians are the absolute best people to ask for recommendations. They know what’s flying off the shelves. Give them these pieces of info and you’re sure to find an adventure:

  • 3 things your child/preteen/teen is interested in [yes, gaming counts]
  • The name of a book or movie they loved and couldn’t stop talking about.

Stop by the library or give them a call to get a recommendation or two. The secret to the perfect gift is matching your child’s interests to the books you give them.

Today’s list includes hands-on adventures, realistic fiction, some fantasy, and, of course, a little magic. We’ve also got some ideas for items to help bring those adventures to life.

dont touch this book bill cotterDon’t Touch This Book! by Bill Cotter
| picture book, ages 2 to 8 |

Larry is a monster with a cool new book. He is willing to share, but HE gets to decide who can play along. Readers use their hands and voices as they move through this colorful adventure at Larry’s direction.

This is a great choice for kids who don’t like to sit still. The activities engage their senses (touch, sound) and imagination.

Read the Review | Order at | Shop Your Local Indie Bookstore

Pair with: A stuffed purple monster. Also pairs well with pop-up book Let’s Play by Herve Tullet.

seek and find picture bookPicture Book: Busy Bunny Days: In the Town, On the Farm, At the Port by Britta Teckentrup
| picture book, ages 3 to 9 |

Join the Bunny family as they go about their busy day in town. Join them on vacation at the farm. Set sail with them from a bustling sea port. This cleverly illustrated picture book shows readers an encapsulated world over just a few pages, giving children different things to look for. Don’t forget to keep track of the nefarious Benny Badger!
Both my kids (3, 5) absolutely loved this book, finding it hilarious and interesting each time. They asked for it a lot, and neither kid got tired of reading it. This is a seek-and-find adventure and educational story all rolled into one.

Read the Review | Order at | Shop Your Local Indie Bookstore

Pairs well with a road traffic/city play-mat and/or toy vehicles.

disaster days rebecca behrensThe Disaster Days by Rebecca Behrens 
| Middle Grade Fiction, ages 9 to 13 |

Hannah (13) wasn’t having a good day. Her day started with missing the bus and forgetting her asthma inhaler. Then she had a tiff with her BFF Neha. After school, Hannah went to the Matlocks to babysit Zoe and Oscar. This was only her second time babysitting, so she was both excited and nervous. Little did she know her ‘gig’ would last three days. A huge earthquake struck Pelling Island, stranding Hannah and the kids with little food, no water, and few safe places to rest. With no “google” to answer her questions and no inhaler to help her breath, Hannah must rely on her babysitting training (which didn’t include earthquakes, BTW!) and instinct to keep the trio fed, hydrated, and safe for who knows how long.

This fast-moving story is more than an earthquake adventure. Girls are more likely to pick up the book, but it has great general appeal. Recommended as a must-read for new babysitters. There is a lot of detail they can pull out for creating their own preparedness notebooks.

Read the Review | Order at | Shop Your Local Indie Bookstore

Pairs well with blank journal/notebook and pen for creating a preparedness notebook; First Aid kit for babysitters; and/or Red Cross babysitter lessons

water wild ormsbeeThe Water and the Wild series by K. E. Ormsbee
| Middle Grade Fiction, ages 8 and Up |

When Lottie turned six, she found a note about her parents by her beloved green apple tree. Unsure of where it came from Lottie wrote back, and the mysterious exchanges began. On a day that Lottie didn’t think could get worse – bullies at school, her best friend dying, and her bike being attacked by a tree (and Mrs. Yates not believing her) – something even weirder happened. She opened her closet door and there was a girl saying they needed to go. Her name was Adelaide and she had one of Lottie’s letters in her hand.

doorway deep ormsbeeInto the green apple tree, and out the other side and a new world. Welcome to Iris Gate, home of the Wilfers: Mr. Moritasgus Horatio Wilfer, dad and curer of the incurable, and his children Adelaide and Oliver. After spending time with Mr. Wilfer, Lottie was ever more determined to take a cure for Eliot back to New Kemble. Adelaide locked Lottie in her room, where she met Fife Dulcet, who told Lottie about her family history, and what it meant to be a Fiske.

Lots of adventure, plenty of plot twists, and of course a little magic. This will make an exceptional family gift. The story will remind readers of The Chronicles of Narnia. The Water and the Wild books are definitely a bedtime adventure meant to be read out loud.

Book 1: When word gets to the Southerly King that there is a Fiske in the land, Mr. Wilfer is arrested and the family is marked as enemies. Escaping ahead of the king’s forces, the children are now on the run. Somehow they must make their way to the Southerly Court and free Mr. Wilfer. Adelaide and Oliver want their father, and Lottie needs the Otherwise Incurable potion to help Eliot.

Book 2: Thanks to Mr. Wilfer and her own keen (magical skill), Lottie was able to heal her best friend Eliot. While Lottie was able to return to New Kimble to heal him, she has a responsibility to Limn, where she has discovered her magic and her heritage as a Fiske. She returns to the kingdom to help the Fiskes and Fife Dulcet, despite being wanted by the Southerly Court. When the king refuses to protect them any longer, Lottie, Oliver, Adelaide, and Fife have no choice but to travel North to the court of Rebel Gem. It is going to be a treacherous, dangerous trek … and what sources of evil await them in this unknown territory?

Read the Review | Order at | Shop Your Local Indie Bookstore [Links go to Book 1]

Pair with oversized, colorful pillows.

enders game orson scott cardEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Ender Quintet, Book 1
| Young Adult Fiction, Ages 13 and Up |

Ender’s Game is about survival, outcasts, and genius. On a futuristic Earth, humans are preparing for another war with the Formics, an alien species. To combat the Formics, the military begins a program to breed the ultimate military genius. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin might be just what they need: brilliant and ruthless, yet compassionate. He excels at the games unlike any other before him. Yet the leaders of the Battle School play a delicate game. How fast can they push him before he breaks? And how long can they afford to wait?

Teen reviewer (14): I loved the book and cannot put into words just how much I adore it. The word “page-turner” was invented to describe this novel. Yet, even with all the action, there are still thought-provoking concepts. Some characters argue that humanity must do whatever it takes to survive; others question whether the end justifies the means. Themes of loyalty and friendship play into ideas about what bravery stands for.

The use of the internet to influence politics is surprisingly relevant today, especially when you consider when the book was written (1980s). The story’s strong emotional impact stick with you for a long time. Ender is a very relatable character. I felt myself growing up with him; experiencing his victories and his pitfalls.

Read the Review | Order at | Shop Your Local Indie Bookstore

Pairs well with board games that require strategy, choice, and critical thinking.

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