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Adventure and Friendship: Books For Kids

In Lewis Carroll's timeless classic Alice in Wonderland, the Gryphon cries out to Alice, "No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time."

We agree with the Gryphon, let's get to the adventures! That's something we love most about children's books: they offer instant access to adventure. As Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” One minute we're in our home on the couch, and a moment later we're journeying across the African savanna, exploring the world in a hot air balloon, or even rocketing through space. The possibilities for adventure are endless.

Here we've compiled a list of the best adventure books for kids. This list features adventure books of all sorts and for all ages (we've searched long and hard to ensure we have titles exciting for girls and for boys). There are books that involve mysteries, magic, and fantasy, or books about leaving home, journeys, and friendship. Some are classic stories you may recognize from your own childhood, while others are exciting new titles containing new adventures just waiting to be had. Some titles are even part of a series that might become a new treasured favorite for your kids or start a cherished tradition of reading aloud together.

The list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to around 2 or 3. Picture books are generally good options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary and early middle school age children. Within that range, some titles are best suited for 9 year olds and 10 year olds (around 4th or 5th graders) while others are better suited for 7 year olds and 8 year olds (around 2nd or 3rd graders). Still others are best for advanced readers approaching middle school age (11 year olds and 12 year olds). Each book includes age suggestions you can reference to guide your search. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

We've kept you from the list long enough. As the Gryphon says, explanations take such a dreadful time. Let's get to the adventures! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Hopper and Wilson book
#1
Hopper and Wilson
Written and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

I really like this book. As Hopper and Wilson set out on their adventure they are not afraid of anything. Their sight is completely set on the good that could be at the end of the world. I love this optimism. When they come across some trouble they don't hide or shrink, but they look for a solution and try to find one another. I think it gives the reader reason and hope in focusing on the good in the world and not worrying or fearing what may come.

A playful tale about friendship and home "What," Hopper asks his little friend Wilson, "do you think it's like at the end of the world?" Hopper, the blue elephant, imagines a staircase to the moon, while Wilson, the yellow mouse, hopes for an endless supply of lemonade. So the two sail off in a boat made of paper . . . only to discover they already have everything they could wish for in each other, and at home. Maria van Lieshout's adorable new picture book tugs at heartstrings, inspires discussion, and reminds us all how good returning home can feel.

Journey book
#2
Journey
Written and illustrated by Aaron Becker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This is a beautiful wordless picture book following a young girl through her imagination to a world where things don't always work out as she expects. She has to think fast, but with a little creative problem solving and a lot of imagination she's able to discover just what she was looking for—a friend. A fresh take on a journey with elements vaguely reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon!

Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship. A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

And Away We Go! book
#3
And Away We Go!
Written and illustrated by Migy England
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato

Mr. Fox sets off on a journey to travel to the moon in his hot air balloon. On his way, he passes by his friends who ask if they may join him. Mr. Fox graciously welcomes them to come along for the journey. The story is light-hearted and jovial and the illustrations pop against the dark night sky.

Mr. Fox is going to the moon! Away he goes in his hot air balloon. . . . But wait! Can Elephant come too? Sure! Let's bring along some pizza. What about Giraffe? And Squirrel? Everyone is welcome in Mr. Fox's balloon, but look out--will everyone fit? In the tradition of classic cumulative tales like Mr. Gumpy's Outing, Migy's And Away We Go! is an unforgettable debut picture book from an exciting new talent.

Stuart Little book
#4
Stuart Little
Written and illustrated by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A hardcover edition of this treasured story, for which Garth Williams's original black-and-white line drawings for the jacket of Stuart Little have been colorized by the celebrated illustrator Rosemary Wells. Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he's shy and thoughtful, he's also a true lover of adventure. Stuart's greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend?

Sunk! book
#5
Sunk!
Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

A pirate hat. A sunny day. For Penguin Blue A game to play... Penguin Blue is back in a swashbuckling new adventure about pirates, treasure, and friendship. While sailing the seven seas Captain Blue and his friends are unexpectedly sunk! But with a shipwreck to explore and a mysterious stranger on a desert island to meet, they might still find some treasure after all. The follow-up to the bestselling and award-winning Blown Away.

  1. The Best Bear in All the World - For the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh, a sequel featuring new stories and a new character from the Hundred Acre Wood. Now a New York Times Bestseller. The Trustees of the Pooh Properties have commissioned four authors to write in the timeless style of A.A. Milne to create a quartet of charming new adventures for Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall: take a trip back to the Hundred Acre Wood with a collection of tales sure to delight year-round. One story finds Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet on a quest to discover the "Sauce of the Nile" (they suspect it's apple). And in another, all the animals rally around poor Eeyore when he thinks he sees another donkey eyeing his clover. The winter story features a new penguin character, based on a stuffed toy owned by Christopher Robin Milne himself. Readers of all ages will love rediscovering old friends and making new ones in this essential new volume of Pooh stories. The book feature beautiful color artwork in the style of Ernest H. Shepard by Mark Burgess.

  2. Corduroy - Corduroy was first introduced to readers in 1968, and in the fifty years since, his adventures have never stopped. Corduroy has been on the department store shelf for a long time. Yet as soon as Lisa sees him, she knows that he’s the bear for her. Her mother, though, thinks he’s a little shopworn—he’s even missing a button! Still, Corduroy knows that with a bit of work he can tidy himself up and be just the bear for Lisa. And where better to start than with a nighttime adventure through the department store, searching for a new button! Celebrate 50 years of this irresistible childhood classic, a heartwarming story about a little bear and a little girl finding the friend they have always wanted in each other.

  3. Hey, Boy - In the classic style of The Giving Tree comes a touching debut picture book about the unfaltering love between a boy and his pet. One day a boy finds a dog. He takes him home, already dreaming of the adventures they will have and the games they will play. But when the boy gets hurt, he and his new best friend are separated. Will the boy be able to grow up quickly enough to get his furry companion back, or will life keep getting in the way? With dreamily spare text and sweeping yet simple illustrations, Hey, Boy is a reminder that true friends always find their way home to each other.

  4. Thunder Pug - Welcome back the perfect pug-and-pig pair: Percy and Petunia. The two besties are inseparable--until Petunia wins a blue ribbon at the fair. Suddenly she's too busy to play anymore. So when lonely Percy finds a faded comic book, he takes on a new persona: THUNDER PUG! But what's a superhero without a sidekick? Will a little "Pink Lightning" (aka Petunia) come to his rescue?

Penny and Penelope book
#10
Penny and Penelope
Written by Dan Richards and illustrated by Claire Almon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Two girls on a play date learn there’s more to each other than meets the eye with a little help from their dolls in this exciting picture book adventure. Penny and Penelope are very different dolls. Penelope is a sweet princess, while Penny is a fierce secret agent. Penelope wants to ride her pony through the countryside, while Penny wants to wrestle alligators. How can they possibly get along playing in an imaginary kingdom? Luckily, Penny and Penelope are more than their packaging. After all, you can’t judge a doll by its outfit.

Anne of Green Gables book
#11
Anne of Green Gables
Written by Stephanie Clarkson and illustrated by Kevin Meyers
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

BabyLit(R) Storybooks give classics new life for the next generation of early readers. In Anne of Green Gables, preschoolers get to know the beloved redheaded orphan Anne Shirley, who is sent to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert in Avonlea. Tag along with Anne on her adventures with her best friend Diana and classmate Gilbert as they explore Prince Edward Island. Easy-to-follow, engaging text combined with original quotes and beautiful artwork create a book to be treasured through childhood and beyond. Part of the BabyLit(R) Storybook Series. Stephanie Clarkson authored Pride and Prejudice BabyLit(R) Storybook. She is also the author of Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups, illustrated by Brigette Barrager (Scholastic). She lives in Surrey, England. Annabel Tempest illustrated three previous BabyLit(R) Storybooks: Pride and Prejudice, The Jungle Book, and Moby-Dick. She lives in Somerset, England.

Lost And Found book
#12
Lost And Found
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

What is a boy to do when a lost penguin shows up at his door? Find out where it comes from, of course, and return it. But the journey to the South Pole is long and difficult in the boy’s rowboat. There are storms to brave and deep, dark nights.To pass the time, the boy tells the penguin stories. Finally, they arrive. Yet instead of being happy, both are sad. That’s when the boy realizes: The penguin hadn’t been lost, it had merely been lonely. A poignant, funny, and child-friendly story about friendship lost . . . and then found again.

Kitty Alone book
#13
Kitty Alone
Written by John M. Feierabend and illustrated by Mina Echevarria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Kitty Alone is the latest in a series of captivating picture books, each based on a beloved songtale from the great American folk music heritage. This beautifully illustrated version sets the song in the Appalachian Mountains and uses a bobcat, called a "woods ghost" by locals, as the title character. Like the other titles in the First Steps in Music series, Kitty Alone includes song history and notation, along with a free download link for the song, sung by Jill Trinka.

Polly Diamond and the Super Stunning Spectacular School Fair book
#14
Polly Diamond and the Super Stunning Spectacular School Fair
Written by Alice Kuipers and illustrated by Diana Toledano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Polly and her magic book, Spell, have all kinds of adventures together because whatever Polly writes in Spell comes true! But when Polly and Spell join forces to make the school fair super spectacular, they quickly discover that what you write and what you mean are not always the same. Filled with the familiar details of home and school, but with a sprinkling of magic, this book is just right for fans of Ivy + Bean, Judy Moody, and Dory Fantasmagory, as well for aspiring writers, who, just like Polly, know the magic of stories.

  1. Peanut and Grape - "Peanut and grape are a perfect pair! Morning and night, rain or shine, through thick and thin...these two friends are always better together!"--Back cover

  2. Hopper and Wilson Fetch a Star - Have you ever wanted your very own star? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have your own star for a nightlight? It is this thought that begins Hopper and Wilson's second adventure. They fill their airplane with lemonade and soar into the night sky. So many stars to choose from! One is too pointy. One is too heavy. Another is too bright! Taking a break on the moon, the two friends look directly above and spot it—the perfect star! As Hopper lays down for a nap, Wilson ventures off on his own, to the dark side of the moon. Yet now he is lost! How can he find his way back to Hopper? The perfect star, of course. Wilson spots it in the sky and follows it back to his friend. In another deceptively simple story, Maria van Lieshout shows how sometimes the best part of nature is that it's found only in nature—and that everything has its proper place . . . be it stars or even best friends, who always belong together.

  3. All about Spot - Little hands will love this adorable puppy-shaped board book! Join Spot as he has lots of fun, rain or shine, playing with friends as well as by himself. Spot’s everyday adventures fill the pages of this big puppy-shaped board book that children will love.

  4. Scary Stories for Young Foxes - Christian McKay Heidicker draws inspiration from Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe for his debut middle-grade novel, a thrilling portrait of survival and an unforgettable tale of friendship. The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe. When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention. Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R. L. Stine have found their next favorite book.

Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks book
#19
Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks
Written by Victoria J. Coe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Fenway's dog's-eye-view of the world is as enthusiastic as ever, but his favorite short human is not acting the way he expects--and he doesn't like it one bit! Fenway's life is pretty great, except for the strange stripey chipmunks that have suddenly appeared in the Dog Park behind his house. He's determined to catch them, but one of their hiding places contains some stinging insects. Ouch! Fenway thinks he can take care of this injury himself, but his humans don't let him. They take him to the Place of Fear and then Hattie doesn't even help him take off the Cone of Doom! Fenway never would have expected Hattie to do these things to him. Doesn't she love him anymore? But even though his family is acting weird, Fenway is determined do whatever it takes to make them all happy again.

Imagine That book
#20
Imagine That
Written and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Beloved characters Hoot and Olive return in this beautiful picture book about imagination, rainy day adventures, and the spirit of friendship. Olive is a little girl with a big, bright imagination. Hoot is her stuffed-animal owl...and her best friend. The two love adventures of all sorts. But on the rainiest of days, there is only one thing to do: stay inside and imagine a whole new world. Just as they’re about to begin their adventure, Hoot makes a shocking discovery—his imagination is broken! Like the best of best friends, Olive comes up with some ideas to help him. But nothing is working: not the head unscrambler, the earmuffs, or the hypnosis. Just as the two are about to give up, Olive remembers the secret ingredient to imagination, and they give it one more try. Fans of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin, George and Martha, and Frog and Toad are certain to fall in love with the next adventure in the Hoot & Olive series.

Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo book
#21
Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo
Written by Ammi-Joan Pacquette and illustrated by Joy Ang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Petey is enjoying a peaceful afternoon of gardening when his good friend Pru starts to cause trouble. Petey reacts in turn, and before long, things have escalated from a scuffle to a tussle to a true hullabaloo! This beautifully illustrated story about the true meaning of friendship is packed with excitement and near disaster as well as vocabulary-expanding words that are fun to say and thrilling to master. Glossary.

Pine & Boof: Blast Off! book
#22
Pine & Boof: Blast Off!
Written and illustrated by Ross Burach
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Frog and Toad meets Elephant & Piggie in the second installment of a humorous and heartfelt picture book series about the adventures of Boof the bear and Pine the porcupine, from the acclaimed author-illustrator of There’s a Giraffe in My Soup and I Am Not a Chair! There’s no one Boof the bear would rather spend the day with than his best friend—Pine the porcupine. And there’s nothing he’d rather do than collect things, which is his favorite hobby of all time. So one day, when Boof is collecting rocks with Pine, he doesn’t think the day could get any better, until . . . An egg falls on Boof’s head—all the way from outer space! Now it’s up to Pine and Boof to return the space egg to its space nest . . . before it hatches. They’ll need a rocket ship, space training, and plenty of sandwiches for the trip. But most important, they’ll need each other to complete a mission that’s out of this world! Pine & Boof: Blast Off! tells the story of an unlikely friendship through highly original characters and vibrant illustrations that are impossible not to love.

Take a Hike, Miles and Spike! book
#23
Take a Hike, Miles and Spike!
Written and illustrated by Ethan Long, Travis Foster
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Take care, GRIZZLY BEAR! Stay loose, MOOSE! Buh-bye, BUTTERFLY! Join Miles and Spike as they take a hike...and a few provisions, as well, much to the vexation of their fellow forest creatures. Travis Foster and Ethan Long offer a hilarious picture book full of silly rhymes, outdoor adventures, and learning how to get along with others.

  1. Babysitting Nightmares: The Phantom Hour - The supernatural never sleeps in the second book of this spooky middle grade series! Clio has already had one brush with the paranormal, and she’s dead set on making it her last. But her new babysitting job is in a haunted house! At first, Clio’s excited to work at the historical Victorian mansion in town—until doors start closing behind her, objects move on their own, and messages appear from beyond the grave. Clio enlists the help of her three best friends, Tanya, Maggie, and Rebecca, to uncover long-buried secrets from the past. Can Clio face her fear and solve the mystery of the haunted mansion?

  2. George and the Blue Moon - George and Annie are off on another cosmic adventure inspired by the Mars Expedition in the fifth book of the George’s Secret Key series from Stephen and Lucy Hawking. George and his best friend, Annie, have been selected as junior astronauts for a program that trains young people for a future trip to Mars. This is everything they’ve ever wanted—and now they get to be a part of up-to-the minute space discoveries and meet a bunch of new friends who are as fascinated by the universe as they are. But when they arrive at space camp, George and Annie quickly learn that strange things are happening—on Earth as well as up in the skies. Mysterious space missions are happening in secret, and the astronaut training they’re undertaking gets scarier and scarier…

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!