One of the very best things about the place where I live is that there is a fun mountain hike less that 10 minutes from my house. Which means, on a good week, I’ve climbed the trail to the summit at least once and have hiked the foothills trail around 2 times. Last year, there were very few good weeks because we were socked in by wildfire smoke most of the summer. This year, we’ve been lucky so far (fingers crossed that it lasts) so I’ve managed a few good hikes where I can wander up the hill and imagine stories and sort out problems in my work in progress.
My hiking adventures are pretty tame right now, but, truth be told, I love a good outdoor adventure. I bet some of you do to. So, I’ve put together a list of Middle School books that take you outside – up mountains and across deserts and even to a city park. Settle in and get ready to hit the trail with these kids. Who knows? You may be inspired to lace up your hiking books or tennis shoes and set out on your own adventure.
The Hike to Home by Jess Rinker
In this fun middle grade adventure, a young girl and her two new friends brave the wilderness to find a castle, prove a local legend, and discover the true meaning of home.
Lin Moser is not looking forward to this summer. After living on the road all her life, hiking mountains and traveling through the country in an RV with her house-flipping parents, she’s now stuck in Newbridge, New Jersey for their longest stay yet. With Mom away on a year-long naturalist assignment, Lin has resigned herself to having the most boring summer ever. But then she finds out about a local legend: an ancient ruined castle in the woods that no one has been able to find. Hiking to this castle would be like a quest. . . such an amazing quest that Mom might even come home, and they could adventure together the way they used to.
Determined to create her own adventure, Lin sets off on her biggest one yet–braving the wilderness with her two new friends, seeking the castle, and maybe discovering a new idea of home along the way.
Lily’s Mountain by Hannah Moderow
Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He’s an expert climber. There’s no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally.
In this powerful debut, Hannah Moderow has written an authentic Alaskan adventure that crosses terrain both beautiful and haunting–and ultimately shows the bond of family and the wonder of wild places.
Super Troop by Bruce Hale
From the Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale comes a hilarious story about a kid who likes to break the rules . . . until the rules try to break him.
Cooper just wants to spend the summer before 7th grade drawing and having adventures with his best friend, Nacho. Anything to keep his mind off the fact that his dad’s new girlfriend and his mom’s announcement that she’s going to start dating.
But when one of his adventures with Nacho goes too far, Cooper’s parents freak out. Either he joins the Boy Rangers, a dorky club that’s all about discipline and rules, or that dream cartooning camp at the end of his summer? Will get erased.
At first it’s not so bad–the troop is a disorganized mess. But then a new scoutmaster starts. Mr. Pierce is a gruff ex-Marine who’s never worked with kids before, especially not a ragtag team of misfits like Troop 19. As he tries turning them into a lean, mean, badge-earning machine, Cooper longs for freedom. He doesn’t want to break the rules, but the rules are going to break him!
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough
A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel.
Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton–almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.
Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.
Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?
Out of Range by Heidi Lang
Hatchet meets Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters in this adventurous and heartfelt middle grade tale of three warring sisters who find themselves lost in the wilderness and must learn to trust each other if they want to survive.
Sisters Abby, Emma, and Ollie have gone from being best friends forever to mortal enemies.
Thanks to their months-long feud, they are sent to Camp Unplugged, a girls’ camp deep in the heart of the Idaho mountains where they will go “back to nature”–which means no cell phones, no internet, and no communicating with the outside world. For two whole weeks. During that time, they had better learn to get along again, their parents tell them. Or else.
The sisters don’t see any way they can ever forgive each other for what they’ve done, no matter how many hikes and campfire songs they’re forced to participate in. But then disaster strikes, and they find themselves lost and alone in the wilderness. They will have to outrun a raging wildfire, make it through a turbulent river, escape bears and mountain lions and ticks. They don’t have training, or food, or enough supplies. All they have is each other.
And maybe, just maybe, it will be enough to survive.
Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling
One girl sets out on a journey across the treacherous Arizona desert to rescue a young pilot stranded after a plane crash in this gripping story of survival, friendship, and rescue from a bestselling and award-winning author.
Twelve-year-old Jolene spends every day she can at the library watching her favorite livestream: The Desert Aviator, where twelve-year-old “Addie Earhart” shares her adventures flying an ultralight plane over the desert. While watching this daring girl fly through the sky, Jolene can dream of what it would be like to fly with her, far away from her own troubled home life where her mother struggles with a narcotic addiction. And Addie, who is grieving the loss of her father, finds solace in her online conversations with Jolene, her biggest–and only–fan.
Then, one day, it all goes wrong: Addie’s engine abruptly stops, and Jolene watches in helpless horror as the ultralight plummets to the ground and the video goes dark. Jolene knows that Addie won’t survive long in the extreme summer desert heat. With no one to turn to for help and armed with only a hand-drawn map and a stolen cell phone, it’s up to Jolene to find a way to save the Desert Aviator. Packed with adventure and heart, Across the Desert speaks to the resilience, hope, and strength within each of us.
Now, what about you? Do you love an outdoor adventure? Are you a hiker at heart? Or are you more comfortable in flip flops and a comfy chair? Let me know in the comments below – and please share your favorite outdoor adventure books. I’m going to need them.