Young Adult Adventure Novels: Tales of Survival and Adventure for Teen Readers

Young Adult readers have many different media sources marketing to them today. Getting them to read can become increasingly difficult if they do not already enjoy reading. Adventure and survival stories are often the genre of books that will capture the imagination and interest of the more reluctant readers of this age group. Here are five of the best adventure books to offer your reluctant teen reader.


The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi offers readers a female lead on the high seas. The story that takes place during an 1802 transatlantic journey that turns mutinous and even more dangerous than expected. Thirteen-year-old Charlotte must decide whom to side with and find her courage in order to survive. This is a fantastic historical novel with a real feel for the time and place of the story as well as the emotions of the lead character. Thankfully, if your reader enjoys this book Avi is a prolific writer of quality historical and realistic fiction.

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt is the first book in the Tillerman series. Four siblings must find a way to survive when they are abandoned by their mother in the middle of Connecticut. They struggle to find their great aunt in Bridgeport only to discover that she has past away and the home is not the safe haven that they had hoped to reach. This is a story of survival, family and discovering the history of where you have come from. If your readers enjoy this book, they can continue reading about these siblings in the six books that follow.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen focuses of thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson. He is riding in a two person aircraft when the pilot haws a heart attack and dies. Brian must crash land the plane then survive in the Canadian wilderness alone. He must plan ahead, survive and find his way home with only the hatchet his mother gave him as a gift, a tattered windbreaker and clothing. Life and death situations are frequent and Brian discovers how to move past self-pity and survive. Paulsen is a master of description and shows his skill in Hatchet. He also wrote several other books that fans of Hatchet would enjoy, such as Dogsong.

The Island on Bird Street by Uri Orlev brings World War II to life. Alex is on his own in a ruined home in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw. He must find a way to stay hidden and survive. The book is an easy but enthralling read that really gives readers a human connection to the holocaust. Alex is a courageous and resourceful character that holds on to his faith that his father will somehow return. The Island on Bird Street is inspiring and everyone should have an opportunity to read it. Do not cheat and just watch the movie, the book is well worth adding to your permanent collection.

The Cay by Theodore Taylor is a historical novel that tells the story of eleven-year-old Philip fleeing his home when war comes to close to comfort. The ship is torpedoed and he is left blinded from the blast and adrift with a cat and black ship hand. They eventually make it to a deserted island where Philip learns to deal with his lost eyesight and grow to realize who unimportant skin color is. Philip grows as a person and becomes able to fend for himself despite his blindness. Survival, unexpected friendship and adventure on the ocean make the book a great read for young adults especially.
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