In the ever-evolving world of children’s literature, more books than not have some element of fantasy or magic within the pages. Often, when I’m doing a book talk or giving reader’s advisory, I tend to the lose the boys as soon as there is talk about something out of the norm. Not all boys want dragons, or wizards or parallel universes. For those boys, finding the right book is getting harder and harder. Here’s a small list of 7 Action/Adventure titles in the vein of Gary Paulsen for those kids who are interested in something other than fantasy. Although the protagonists are male, I would not discourage girls from reading these books. There are no boy books or girl books. There are good books and bad books. Captivating characters and boring characters. Well thought out plotlines and not-so-well thought out plotlines. You see where I’m going. Just hand the book over to the child and let them decide if its right for them.
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Weighed down by guilt, Joel searches for the courage to tell the truth about the disappearance–and apparent drowning–of his best friend Tony while the boys are playing near the treacherous, and forbidden, Vermillion River.
Storm Warriors by Elsa Carbone
In 1895, after his mother’s death, twelve-year-old Nathan moves with his father and grandfather to Pea Island off the coast of North Carolina, where he hopes to join the all-black crew at the nearby lifesaving station, despite his father’s objections.
A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements
The fifth grade’s annual camping trip in the woods tests Mark’s survival skills and his ability to relate to a teacher who seems out to get him.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
A young boy relates his adventures during the year he spends living alone in the Catskill Mountains, including his struggle for survival, his dependence on nature, his animal friends, and his ultimate realization that he needs human companionship.
Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret
When an earthquake hits the isolated island in northern California where his family had been camping, twelve-year-old Jonathan Palmer must find a way to keep himself, his partially paralyzed younger sister, and their dog alive until help arrives.
Shipwreck by Gordon Korman (Book 1 of the Island Series)
Six totally different kids have to learn to work together to survive a vicious storm and a shipwreck that leave them stranded in the middle of the ocean with no food, no water, and almost no hope for survival.
Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
When Michael is swept off his family’s yacht, he washes up on a desert island, where he struggles to survive–until he finds he is not alone.