Picture books can carry you off on a daring adventure to new places with exciting characters without leaving your cozy couch. This month’s family reading challenge is all about children’s books that offer an adventure.
This theme was suggested by one of our A Read A Day challengers and I love it! Adventure can mean so many things.
My kids and I call our little field trips adventures.
Family travel is always an adventure.
Trying new things can be an adventure.
Exploring a new place can be an adventure.
Take this theme and let it fit and inspire your life however you want!
My family is going on a different kind of adventure this month. We are moving from New York City to San Diego in January. We’re loading our belongings, road tripping across the entire country, and then settling in a new town. Definitely an adventure.
I can’t wait to see what adventures you read about and go on this month!
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Go on a Picture Book Adventure
Below are ideas to inspire your adventure reading challenge! Author and illustrators to get to know, a list of top 10 picture books about adventure and even more ideas.
Featured Authors & Illustrators
There are so many fantastic children’s book authors and illustrators and knowing the ones you love is liking finding a good friend. You trust their work. You turn to them for laughs or a good story.
Author Studies are a valuable tool for children. You can read the basics in this concise post from Teaching with Children’s Books.
I encourage you to dig deep with one or more of these authors during our reading challenge this month as we go on Adventures.
Donald Crews is an American author who has written and illustrated a long list of fantastic picture books for children. The majority of his books are about transportation themes which made him a favorite in our house during the toddler years. I think almost everyone is familiar with Freight Train, but my personal favorite is Truck. For the youngest kids, new transportation is often the best kind of adventure and Crews aptly captures this on every page.
Dan Yaccarino is an American author and illustrator of books that are full of quirky characters that are delightful to children. He is also know for his award-winning TV series’ Oswald (Nick Jr), Willa’s Wild Life (NBC and Qubo) and character designs for The Backyardigans (Nickelodeon).
Our favorites by Yaccarino are his Doug Unplugged books about a robot who learns from the world through technology until one day he unplugs and goes on the best adventure of his life. He also did the illustrations on Count on the Subway which is an awesome counting book and an adventure we are quite familiar with as New Yorkers. His latest Morris Mole also shares an adventure of a very different kind. A little mole decides one day, despite the reservations of his older brothers, to dig up instead of down.
Judy Schachner is best known as the author and illustrator of the Skippyjon Jones books although she has a lengthy list of other titles to her name.
My kids adore the Skippyjon Jones books but I do think they are one of those love them or hate them kind of things because everyone I’ve talked to has had strong opinions about Skippyjon. For this topic, I love these books for the interpretation of adventure which in this case takes place entirely in a cat’s imagination.
Aaron Becker has become an overnight phenomenon with his Journey series. These are all breathtaking wordless adventures. Normally I wouldn’t include an author with only 3 books (only I say when of course one is a huge accomplishment) but these are beautiful and fit so perfectly with our adventure them. I also love wordless books because they can be used with a huge range of ages or with multi-aged groups since everyone will interpret wordless books differently. Check out his website for some interesting background on the making of these books.
10 More Children’s Books about Adventure
1. Mousetronaut by Astronaut Mark Kelly
From cover to cover this is such a cute adventure story. Written by a real astronaut (a fact my kids thought was beyond cool) this book tells the partially true story of a mouse that went into space. Meteor the mouse in beyond adorable in Payne’s illustrations and his adventure is nothing short of fun. Full of just enough fact about space travel to make it fascinating and just enough tension to make it exciting, little space enthusiasts will be on the edge of their seats cheering on Meteor and his crew.
2. A Walk in the Forest by Maria Dek
This is a quieter sort of adventure. Full of gentle water colors and poetic language, this book carries you through the forest with a child as they explore, discover and learn about the great world among the trees.
3. The Noisy Airplane Ride by Mike Downs
For many young children, it is the noise of an airplane ride that is most impressionable part of a plane adventure. This sensory experience is carefully captured in The Noisy Airplane Ride that discusses the different noises associated with an airplane ride.
4. Sally’s Great Balloon Adventure by Stephen Huneck
Sally the lovable dog goes on a big adventure in this picture book when she accidentally takes off in a hot air balloon. I love all of the books in this series, but this one is definitely the most adventurous. Don’t worry – she’s ok in the end.
5. Scarredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
In some ways these books are the opposite of adventure stories because they are about a squirrel who is afraid of everything. And yet, despite this, he somehow manages to go on an adventure every time – even if it only takes him just outside of his tree. My twins cannot get enough of Scarredy Squirrel so we have read the entire series of picture books.
6. Over and Under by Kate Messner
I have eagerly anticipating this, the third book in the over/under books by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal and it did not disappoint. In this one, a mom and her son are canoeing on a pond together. The little boy wonders what is under the pond and his mom tells him there is “a whole hidden world” under there. Messner and Neal paint that world with soft, lyrical strokes. This is a story filled with gentle action, fascinating animals, and warm moments between mother and son. It brought me back to canoeing on lakes in Northern Wisconsin as a child.
7. All Aboard the London Bus by Patricia Toht
I was so surprisingly delighted by this book. It is so much fun. Nonfiction travel books for kids are hard to write. They often tend towards broad, dull tours of major landmarks that are factual but lacking in excitement. Toht has creatively approached a tour of London with poetry. Before I lose you, it is energetic, imaginative poetry takes you on an adventure in this historic city. Each page has a landmark from Buckingham and Big Ben to the Thames and a poem to match. The poems are a variety of length, style, and reflect the landmark they describe wonderfully. The illustrations are full of bright color and details your eyes beg to soak in longer. A active, enthusiastic, playful tour of London that leaves you wanting to read it all over again.
8. The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud
A case of mistaken identity and Little Bear is off on a big adventure with Papa Bear close behind. This book carries you from snow to the tropics and everywhere in between with surprises on every page. My kids love paging through and looking at the detailed illustrations again and again and again.
9. Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia by Alison Lester
This book makes me want to hop in the car for a road trip or at least go visit Australia. Lester paints a beautiful picture of a wild and diverse and fascinating country as a family of five travels around it. Full of family bonding, exciting experiences, and quiet moments this book is just that – full.
10. Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd
I love this adventure into the wild. I was hooked from the first page where the kids are depicted standing on the line between the subway infused city and the wild greenery. What follows is a eloquent, poetic, and vivid description of nature impossibly improved by the whimsical, full illustrations. An impressive work that captures, celebrates, and pushes you into the great outdoors.
More Topics to Include
For those of you who participated in our a Read a Day challenge in 2017, you got used to a collection of book prompts for each day of the month – it was a bit like a scavenger hunt. After a few months I found this limiting and tedious for various reasons, but when hunting the shelves for picture books it can help to have some search terms, starting points, etc.
Here are some picture book topics to hunt for this month:
- Outer Space or Astronauts
- Trying Something New
- Under The Sea
- Trip or Voyage
- Big Day
- A New Place