Inspired to try a family campout after reading “Camp Like a Homeschooler” in the summer issue of home | school | life? Yes, you need the sleeping bag and that cooking fork, but we all know the really essential item is the book you bring as your family camping readaloud. Any book makes a good camping trip story, but we especially like books that tie into outdoor adventure.
Twelve-year-old Sam isn’t that interested in hiking, much less surviving in the wild—but when his dad is injured on a day hike, Sam has to summon all his wilderness knowledge to get them home alive in Blind Mountain by Jane Resh Thomas.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is the outdoor adventure classic: Stranded alone after a plane crash in Canada’s north woods, 13-year-old Brian survives with nothing but a hatchet and his wits for 54 intense days.
My kids would listen to The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford over and over again, and the story of three family pets determined to find their way home across hundreds of miles of Canadian wilderness, makes a pretty thrilling campfire read.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is a different kind of wilderness survival story: Crusoe survives a shipwreck with a handful of supplies and manages to create a civilized, if lonely, life on a desert island.
In The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, Matt’s dad leaves him alone to protect the family’s homestead in 18th century Maine while he travels to Massachusetts to bring the rest of the family home.
Sam in My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George has serious homeschooler appeal: After learning about wilderness survival at the public library, he sets off to his grandfather’s abandoned farm in the Catskills to put his knowledge to work in the wild.
If you want a picture book for your readaloud, Curious George Goes Camping by Margret & H.A. Rey is delightful fun as George tries to help the man in the yellow hat on their camping trip.
Some books just sound better outdoors, and I think The Call of the Wild by Jack London is one of them. The sounds of the woods at night are the perfect background soundtrack for this story told from the point of view of the dog Buck.