Fantastic Kids’ Survival Books That You Can’t Put Down

A booklist of fantastic kids’ survival books
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The Children’s Book Review

Whether it’s the suspense of being lost and finding one’s way home, the thrill of being hunted by a fantastical beast, or the tension that comes from a character grappling with grief and loss, there’s nothing like a survival story to keep kiddos turning pages!

Young readers’ curiosity is piqued through drama and a natural desire for everything to be okay in the end—for everything to turn out for the best. Even if the end isn’t quite what one expects, even if there is some loss and grieving to do, the best survival books written for kids show us never to give up and to always hold onto hope.

If you have a kiddo in your life that loves a good survival story, they won’t be able to put down these five fantastic books!

Survival Stories for Elementary Students and Middle Schoolers

The Wolf's Curse: Book Cover

Written by Jessica Vitalis

Ages 8+ | 336 Pages

Publisher: Greenwillow Books | ISBN-13: 9780063067417

A twist on Grim Reaper mythology, The Wolf’s Curse is a novel that pulls the reader into an adventurous examination of grief, tradition, and community while ultimately providing hope. A twelve-year-old boy named Gauge teams up with another orphan and together they unveil some secrets about a great white wolf, their community, and the grieving process. The Wolf’s Curse is an incredibly thought-provoking story packed with grit, survival, and adventure that provides solid entertainment for kids.

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Book Cover A Whale of the Wild

Written by Rosanne Parry

Illustrated by Lindsay Moore

Ages 8+ | 336 Pages

Publisher: Greenwillow Books | ISBN-13: 9780062995926

Fans of unforgettable animal adventure novels such as The One and Only Ivan and Charlotte’s Web will be swept up in this illustrated tale of survival that explores the pull of family, togetherness, finding one’s way, and the effects of global warming. It is a poignant animal adventure that demonstrates the importance of coming together in a crisis. Readers will readily journey with two orca siblings as they find their place among their kin and persevere through loss and devastation. The environmental elements of wildlife and watershed restoration are impactful and are bound to inspire young people to take care of the world’s oceans.

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Hollow Chest: Book Cover

Written by Brita Sandstrom

Ages 8+ | 352 Pages

Publisher: Walden Pond Press | ISBN-13: 9780062870742

Anne Ursu, the award-winning author of The Lost Girl, said it best when she called Hollow Chest an astonishing debut. Brita Sandstrom has concocted a marvelous tale of nightmares, shadows, and how to hold on when all seems lost. Charlie’s brother, Theo, has been off fighting the battles of World War II. When Theo returns a changed man, seemingly lost, Charlie discovers that an ancient pack of wolves has consumed his heart. It’s impossible not to be moved by this breathtaking novel on how to survive the darkness of trauma.

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We could just list all of the honors that The Book of Boy has received and leave it at that—Newbery Honor Book, Booklist Editors’ Choice, BookPage Best Books, Chicago Public Library Best Fiction, Horn Book Fanfare, Kirkus Reviews Best Books, Publishers WeeklyBest Books, Wall Street Journal Best of the Year, and An ALA Notable Book— but we’ll also add that this adventure and quest for survival is so epic that once started, readers cannot put it down.

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The Leopard Behind the Moon

Written by Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev

Ages 8+ | 256 Pages

Publisher: Greenwillow Books | ISBN-13: 9780062993618

What could possibly be behind the magical village door? Even though the village laws state never to open the door meant to protect them, when Ezomo’s father is killed by a leopard (or so it is believed), Ezomo is determined to find out. Along with his two best friends, he defies the village elders and, in turn, discovers some truth about the village. With a fantastical West African backdrop, Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev’s debut is a modern cautionary, coming-of-age tale that will stay with readers for a long time after they put down the book.

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This book list Fantastic Kids’ Survival Books That You Can’t Put Down was curated by The Children’s Book Review and sponsored by HarperCollins. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Middle Grade Books, Survival, and Suspense.

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September 22, 2021 at 12:40PM Bianca Schulze