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Running Away From Home: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about running away from home?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to running away from home. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about running away from home.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about running away from home, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like See You Around, Sam! to popular sellers like Bud, Not Buddy to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Thief Lord.

We hope this list of kids books about running away from home can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

The Thief Lord
Written by Cornelia Funke & illustrated by Christian Birmingham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The enchanting international bestseller with bonus back matter and a beautiful new cover!

Two orphaned brothers, Prosper and Bo, have run away to Venice, where crumbling canals and misty alleyways shelter a secret community of street urchins. Leader of this motley crew of lost children is a clever, charming boy with a dark history of his own: He calls himself the Thief Lord.

Propser and Bo relish their new “family” and life of petty crime. But their cruel aunt and a bumbling detective are on their trail. And posing an even greater threat to the boys’ freedom is something from a forgotten past: a beautiful magical treasure with the power to spin time itself.

Bud, Not Buddy
Written & illustrated by Christopher Paul Curtis
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

The Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning classic about a boy who decides to hit the road to find his father—from Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963, a Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree.

It’s 1936, in Flint Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him:

  1. He has his own suitcase full of special things.
  2. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.
  3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers advertising Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!

Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road to find this mystery man, nothing can stop him—not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.

AN ALA BEST BOOK FOR YOUNG ADULTS AN ALA NOTABLE CHILDREN’S BOOK AN IRA CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD WINNER NAMED TO 14 STATE AWARD LISTS

“The book is a gem, of value to all ages, not just the young people to whom it is aimed.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Will keep readers engrossed from first page to last.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred

“Curtis writes with a razor-sharp intelligence that grabs the reader by the heart and never lets go. . . . This highly recommended title [is] at the top of the list of books to be read again and again.” —Voice of Youth Advocates, Starred

Running Wild
Written by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Twelve-year-old Willa and her twin brothers have survived with their father in the Alaskan wilderness for five years. But Willa knows this can’t go on—they must escape.

Since their mother died five years ago, Willa, her younger brothers, and her father have lived in the wilderness, in a log cabin they built. They survive on food they grow and animals they hunt. Every year they have struggled a little bit more to survive. Now, with winter approaching and her father becoming more reckless, Willa wonders if they will live to see spring. She also knows her father will never agree to leave. When her father goes on a hunting expedition by himself, Willa convinces her brothers that they must make the four-day journey down the Yukon River to Fort Yukon to get help. But first, they’ll need to survive the treacherous trip…and all the while, their father is on their trail. Perfect for middle grade readers looking for adventure stories with strong female protagonists, Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s Running Wild is a page-turner that hooks you from the beginning and doesn’t let go.

Tiger Wild
Written & illustrated by Gwen Millward
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Sometimes feelings can go wild. . .

Lily is a little girl with big emotions. And sometimes she can’t keep herself from acting out and being naughty. Or rather, her imaginary friend, Tiger, is the naughty one. So when Tiger convinces her to run away, they have a blast stomping and jumping and going wild. But what is Lily to do when their adventure starts to feel a bit too wild?

Tiger Wild gently illustrates how sometimes we all need a little help when certain feelings are hard to express. For there is a time to be wild and a time to be mild.

Where's Walrus?
Written & illustrated by Stephen Savage
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Follows Walrus on a journey through the city, as he tries on different hats to disguise himself from the chasing zookeeper.

  • Pilu Of The Woods - For fans of Hilda and the Troll comes PILU OF THE WOODS, a heartwarming and bittersweet story of friendship, loss, exploring complex emotions and finding your way home from debut creator Mai K. Nguyen. Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods. There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends. But the journey is long, and Pilu isn’t sure she’s ready to return home yet—which infuriates Willow, who’s determined to make up for her own mistakes by getting Pilu back safely. As a storm rages and Willow’s emotions bubble to the surface, they suddenly take on a physical form, putting both girls in danger… and forcing Willow to confront her inner feelings once and for all.

  • Under the Lilacs - From Ezra Jack Keats Honor winner E. B. Goodale comes a celebration of nature, family, and building our own hands-on adventures_—_perfect for any reader who has ever craved a bit of independence . . . In this lush and playful picture book from E. B. Goodale, illustrator of Windows, Kate feels ignored by her mother and sister and so decides to run away. In a neighboring yard, she builds a fort and enjoys a sense of independence—until she finds herself making room for her family in her new home . . . Under the Lilacs is the perfect celebration of striking out on your own—while still making room for everyone.

  • Beverly, Right Here - Revisiting once again the world of Raymie Nightingale, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo turns her focus to the tough-talking, inescapably tenderhearted Beverly. Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
    This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.
    Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. In a touching, funny, and fearless conclusion to her sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros, #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and put it back together again.

  • Beholding Bee - In 1942, when life turns sour at the carnival that has always been her home, eleven-year-old Bee takes her dog, Peabody, and piglet, Cordelia, and sets out to find a real home, aided by two women only Bee and her pets can see.

Waiting for Augusta
Written by Jessica Lawson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher and Nooks & Crannies comes a “whimsical, heartwarming,” (Kirkus Reviews) and profound tale of love, loss, and family. Eleven-year-old Benjamin Putter has a lump in his throat, and he’s certain it’s a golf ball. He knows it sounds crazy, but everything’s been topsy-turvy since his father died last month. And he doesn’t know how to fix it. Then, one day, something starts tugging at Ben, telling him to hurry to Augusta, Georgia—home of the most famous golf course in the world. Ben might be going a little crazy, but escaping Hilltop, Alabama, sounds like a darn good idea. (And just maybe it will make that lump go away.) As he makes his way to Augusta, Ben partners up with a mysterious runaway named Noni, and they embark on a journey full of strange and wonderful surprises—and possibly magic—at every turn.

Home for Christmas
Written & illustrated by Jan Brett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A wild little troll runs away from home because he doesn’t want to do his chores. Rollo tries living with various woodland animals, but he finds out that there is no place like home, and returns to his family just in time for “the best Christmas ever.”

Among the animals who take him in are an owl family, a mother bear and two rambunctious cubs, some playful river otters, a hungry lynx and a friendly moose family.

Jan Brett creates an irresistible, mischievous character that kids will recognize in themselves. Jan transports us to a glorious Scandinavian landscape where a beautiful fall turns into a magnificent snowy winter. Her signature borders depict the troll family missing Rollo, and animals as appealing as those found in The Mitten.

A warm, fun-loving Christmas picture book for families to share and love and laugh over together.

Very Far Away
Written & illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Select type book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

First published in 1957, Very Far Away is the second book Sendak both wrote and illustrated.

In this story, a young boy with a new baby sibling, must learn to cope with his sudden lack of attention. He goes out searching for ‘very far away’.

Chocolate Fever
Written by Robert Kimmel Smith & illustrated by Gioia Fiammenghi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Henry Green is a boy who loves chocolate. He likes it bitter, sweet, dark, light, and daily; for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks; in cakes, candy bars, milk, and every other form you can possibly imagine. Henry probably loves chocolate more than any boy in the history of the world. One day-it starts off like any other day-Henry finds that strange things are happening to him. First he makes medical history with the only case of Chocolate Fever ever. Then he finds himself caught up in a wild and hilarious chase, climaxed by a very unusual hijacking!

See You Around, Sam!
Written by Lois Lowry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Sam Krupnik, mad at his mother because she won’t let him wear his newly acquired plastic fangs in the house, decides to run away to Alaska. There, he can look like the walruses with their tusks—at least they would let him wear his fangs. But as Sam says goodbye to his neighbors, he receives more advice and survival tools than he knows what to do with. Will Sam have to change his mind about Alaska?

  • See You Around, Sam! - Sam Krupnik, mad at his mother because she won’t let him wear his newly acquired plastic fangs in the house, decides to run away.

  • Beyond the Green - “After twelve-year-old Britta’s family fostered Chipeta, a Native American baby, for four years, Chipeta’s birth mother has the right to take her back. In 1979 Utah, Britta can’t imagine life without her beloved little sister, and so she grows determined to do whatever she can to keep her sister and to eventually understand how complicated and important family is—in all its forms”—

  • The Higher Power of Lucky (Hard Pan Trilogy) - Lucky, age 10, can’t wait another day. The meanness gland in her heart and the crevices full of questions in her brain make running away from Hard Pan, California (population 43), the rock-bottom only choice she has. It’s all Brigitte’s fault for wanting to go back to France. Guardians are supposed to stay put and look after girls in their care! Instead, Lucky is sure that she’ll be abandoned to some orphanage in Los Angeles where her beloved dog, HMS Beagle, won’t be allowed. She’ll have to lose her friends: Miles, who lives on cookies, and Lincoln, future U.S. president (maybe) and member of the International Guild of Knot Tiers. Just as bad, she’ll have to give up eavesdropping on 12-step anonymous programs, where the interesting talk is all about Higher Powers. Lucky needs her own “higher power” - and quick. But she hadn’t planned on a dust storm, or needing to lug the world’s heaviest survival-kit backpack into the desert.

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