Every kid (and kid-at-heart) loves an adventure story, and children’s literature is full of tales that get a reader’s heart pounding or carry them away on a quest alongside the main characters. Whether they’re based in the real world, in a fantasy land, or in a sci-fi setting, adventure stories have the power to grip the reader from start to finish. Here are some new and classic adventure books for kids that are perfect for young readers – and adults will enjoy reading along too.
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston
This spellbinding debut follows Amari, a young girl who discovers a hidden magical world while trying to find her missing older brother. As she gets more and more involved in the Bureau of Magical Affairs, Amari has to content not only with supernatural beings, but with classroom rivalries, intense competition, and the little matter of an evil magician threatening to destroy the world. Young readers who love mystery and intrigue will dive deep into Amari’s world.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Another story about secret magical societies, Nevermoor is the first in a series following young Morrigan Crow, a girl who has been cursed to die on her 11th birthday. If she can pass the trials set her by the Wundrous Society, she may be able to escape her fate – but that’s only if she does pass. With a rich magical world, this is a great story for elementary students.
The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes
If you know a kid who loves a spooky read, you can’t go wrong with The Haunting of Aveline Jones (be warned – it’s genuinely pretty scary, and even creeped out this 35-year-old horror fan a little). Sent away to the seaside for her half-term holiday, Aveline discovers a book of scary stories that belonged to a girl named Primrose Penberthy, who disappeared without trace several years ago. As Aveline starts to unravel the mystery of what happened to Primrose, she realises that she might also be in danger.
Gobbolino, the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams
An oldie but a goodie, this book was first published in 1942 and is still a fantastic story for younger readers. Gobbolino is born into a family of witches’ cats, but would much rather be a normal kitchen cat. The story follows his adventures as he tries to find a home, getting into many scrapes along the way.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: The Edge of the Ocean by L. D. Lapinski
I adored the first book in L. D. Lapinski’s Strangeworlds series, and have been waiting on tenterhooks for the sequel – and it’s nearly here! Travelling to different worlds through magical suitcases, Flick and Jonathan find themselves teaming up with Pirate Queen Nyfe, whose flat world The Break is starting to disintegrate. With magic, merpeople, and plenty of swashbuckling, this story is shaping up to be a great installment in a brilliant new adventure series.
The Storm Runner by J. C. Cervantes
Young Zane prefers hiking around his local volcano than going to school, where he faces vicious ableist bullying from his classmates. However, when he discovers that he is destined to release an evil god currently trapped in the volcano, Zane has to take his destiny into his own hands and try to prevent a war between ancient Mayan gods. This adventure story has everything – magic, destiny, and a cute dog in need of rescue.
Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy
Young steampunk fans will love Brightstorm, the first in a series full of airships and explorers. It follows a classic adventure story setup, with twins Arthur and Maudie setting out to South Polaris to find out what has really happened to their missing-presumed-dead father.
Blackberry Blue by Jamila Gavin
Readers who don’t want a full-length adventure story will find plenty of short, punchy adventures to dip into in this collection of retold fairytales. With proactive heroes and heroines, and beautiful illustrations accompanying the stories, this is a great choice for fantasy adventure fans.
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
In the remote Russian woodlands, Feodora and her mother have an unusual job – they are the wolf wilders, charged with rewilding former pet wolves whose owners have realised that the creatures can never be truly tamed. Feo’s day-to-day life is an adventure in itself, but when the Russian Revolution starts to impact on her world, Feo finds herself with a new quest.
The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
One for slightly older readers, this book deals with government corruption and prejudice against people with medical conditions. Heroine Ami lives on an island where many of the inhabitants are people with leprosy, including her mother, but although she loves her home, she is forced to leave following a decree by the island’s new governor. The book follows Ami’s quest to get back home, with the help of a swarm of butterflies.
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Sci-fi and Korean mythology meet in this fantastic book by Yoon Ha Lee. Min, a fox spirit, is desperate to leave her home and travel through space like her older brother. When her brother goes missing, Min decides that she has to find out what really happened to him, and along the way meets a whole host of motley spacefaring characters.
Wilfred the (Un)wise by Cas Lester
Wilfred is a trainee wizard from the middle ages, who isn’t exactly the best at magic. Bel is an aspiring street magician from the present day. When a magical mistake catapults Wilf into the future, the two have to join forces to try and get him back to his own time before it’s too late. With two dynamic characters and a playful look at different kinds of magic, this is a great adventure read.
Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Nizhoni has the power to detect monsters, which comes in handy when her father vanishes. Teaming up with her brother Mac and her best friend Davery, Nizhoni must pass a series of difficult trials and defeat the monsters that her father’s boss, the sinister Mr Charles, has unleashed on the world.
Wagstaffe the Wind-Up Boy by Jan Needle
This quirky book is a fantastic choice for young readers who like comedy adventure with an edge of gross-out factor. Wagstaffe is left alone when his parents run away from home and join the circus, and gets in an accident that leaves him with clockwork internal organs and a wind-up key in his back. Still adjusting to his new mechanical parts, Wagstaffe discovers that his parents are in danger, and he’s the only one who can rescue them.
The Worst Witch All At Sea by Jill Murphy
Jill Murphy is the queen of the magical school genre, with her stories about awkward student Mildred Hubble and the other girls at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches being beloved by several generations of young readers. Fourth in the series, The Worst Witch All At Sea is a particular favourite of mine. When her class goes to the seaside for a week, Mildred smuggles her adorable (and not very witchy) cat Tabby along with her, and gets herself into even more than her usual amount of trouble as a result.
Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen
Leelu is having trouble adjusting to her new life in London, and wishes she could go home. She’s soon drawn into a mystery – who is leaving strange gifts outside her home, and how is she going to cope with the new magical powers she’s developing? Fly Me Home is an ideal read for adventurous kids who are dealing with homesickness.
Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Adventure doesn’t have to mean travel to fantastical lands or faraway countries – it can also take place just a short drive from home. Melly is reluctantly dragged to Camp Rockaway by her best friend, and although she didn’t want to leave home and is dealing with her parents’ recent decision to divorce, she soon finds adventure, a place for herself in her band, and even romance.
The Weather Weaver by Tamsin Mori
Coming out in March 2021 in the UK, The Weather Weaver sees 11-year-old Stella spending the summer in Shetland with her grandfather, where she meets an old woman who can use weather magic. Stella starts to train as a weather weaver, with the help of a cute storm cloud called Nimbus, but soon finds out that weather magic isn’t all sunshine and rainbows…
These are just some of the nail-biting adventure stories that are available, and there are so many more out there for young readers to find. Hopefully, these fantastic reads will start them on their quest for more adventure tales!