Adventure novels for a five-year-old?
September 10, 2009 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Please can anyone suggest adventure novels suitable for reading to a five-year-old boy?

I'm looking for traditional adventure stories (pirates, pilots, explorers, knights, quests, etc.) with a lengthy twist-and-turn plot, of which we can read a chapter a night before bed, preferably ending on a cliff-hanger each time. Something like Treasure Island, but with simpler language and ideas.
posted by kitfreeman to Education (49 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
You might give the Hardy Boys a try.
posted by Atreides at 11:50 AM on September 10, 2009


though i don't remember much of it, when i was 5 or 6, my cousin read this illustrated version of The Swiss Family Robinson to me. i loved it. there was a picture on every (or every other?) page, and it wasn't too complicated.
posted by gursky at 11:51 AM on September 10, 2009


The Phantom Tollbooth.
posted by gyusan at 11:53 AM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Danny Dun books were always fantastic. Seconding Phantom Tolbooth and anything by Roald Dahl.
posted by Think_Long at 11:57 AM on September 10, 2009


THe Great Brain.

From the second paragraph of the first review, "I am currently reading The Great Brain to my six-year old son. At first I was afraid that the writing was a little too sophisticated for him, but with an explanation here and a definition there, he's doing just fine with it. He laughed uproariously at the scene in the opening chapter of the public uncrating and display of the first water closet (indoor flush toilet)in Adenville. These stories are terrific entertainment, as well as history lessons. They give kids a sense of how daily life was a century ago from a kid's perspective. "
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:58 AM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anything by Gideon Defoe:
-The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists!
-The Pirates! in an Adventure witih Ahab!
and two others...

William Goldman
-The Princess Bride

There are numerous Robin Hood or King Arthur books. I can't say one is better than the other as we read an old copy from the library.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:01 PM on September 10, 2009


I loved Burroughs' Tarzan books when I was that age.
posted by trip and a half at 12:04 PM on September 10, 2009


Treasure Island, but do the voices.
posted by Freedomboy at 12:04 PM on September 10, 2009


The Hobbit. My dad read it to me at that age, and I loved it.
posted by JennyK at 12:07 PM on September 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Seconding The Hobbit. Added bonus since it gives you the chance to work into Lord of the Rings as he gets older. Also you'll have plenty of opportunities do do some cool voices, especially Gollum.
posted by te1contar at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2009


The Wizard Children of Finn by Mary Tannen - out of print, but you can find one on AMZN Really great book...

There's another one called Lost Legend of Finn, also great.
posted by Spaizy at 12:18 PM on September 10, 2009


Danny Dun books were always fantastic. Seconding Phantom Tolbooth and anything by Roald Dahl.

Many of Roald Dahl's short stories are inappropriate for five year olds, unless your five year old is interested in hearing about airplanes beheading giraffes, and cows suckling black mamba snakes, and Nazi bombing raids. Be sure you're reading a book of stories for children, when it comes to Roald Dahl.
posted by interrobang at 12:19 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


My Father's Dragon and Adventures of Tintin are both really fun, timeless adventures.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:21 PM on September 10, 2009


Roald Dahl books are great: James and the Giant Peach, etc.

The problem I found with my son at age 5 (and I'm not sure if this is because he is growing up in a Japanese-English household and attends French school) is that he couldn't understand the vocabulary of the Hobbit and other books at 5.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:22 PM on September 10, 2009


nth-ing The Hobbit. One of the few books that could keep my son's attention at that age, and at bedtime (when he's normally going bonkers).

The Dinotopia series, IIRC, was also a favorite.
posted by not_on_display at 12:23 PM on September 10, 2009


unless your five year old is interested in hearing about airplanes beheading giraffes, and cows suckling black mamba snakes, and Nazi bombing raids

were you never 5? That's exactly what I was interested in. Still am, but the topics are pretty poorly represented at the library
posted by Think_Long at 12:23 PM on September 10, 2009


Amy's Eyes.
posted by Bardolph at 12:25 PM on September 10, 2009


My kids loved Nate the Great.
posted by midwestguy at 12:29 PM on September 10, 2009


Another vote for The Hobbit. My dad read it to me at that age, and I loved it.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2009


I was so about to recommend My Father's Dragon. Charming books.
posted by Neofelis at 12:36 PM on September 10, 2009


My father read me Gulliver's Travels when I was about that age.
posted by decathecting at 12:42 PM on September 10, 2009


I've been considering "The Once and Future King" for my son (almost 5).
posted by evilelf at 12:44 PM on September 10, 2009


Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books would be perfect.
posted by EarBucket at 12:50 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not a win, but I bet they'd show or place - The Boxcar Children.
posted by goml at 12:51 PM on September 10, 2009


Nthing the Hobbit. It's probably the reason I love reading so much to this day.

I loved Gary Paulsen's Hatchet and Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George at that age as well.

And Island of the Blue Dolphins.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:51 PM on September 10, 2009


The Dragon Slayer's Academy series. My son loved them all when he was five, and I liked them too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2009


I was read The Hobbit and the Little Home on the Prairie books when I was young, possibly a little older than that.

In a similar vein, I'd readily suggest The Princess and the Goblin, and The Prydain books (Starts with the Black Cauldron), both of which are fairy tale quests. I'm tempted to suggest Alice in Wonderland or more probably Sylvie and Bruno which is it's sweeter tempered cousin, but the language used might be a challenge and I'm not sure if they're the kind of adventure novel you want. Don't forget classics such as Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, or Winnie the Pooh (which is admittedly not an adventure but perfectly charming anyway), since all of them stand up very well still and are quite a bit better than their movie adaptations.
posted by CheshireCat at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2009


The Prydain books (Starts with the Black Cauldron)

They actually start with The Book of Three; Cauldron's the second book in the series.
posted by EarBucket at 12:58 PM on September 10, 2009


And My Side of the Mountain.

I could do this all day
posted by Aizkolari at 12:59 PM on September 10, 2009


Right you are EarBucket, serves me right for relying on memory. Thanks for catching that.
posted by CheshireCat at 1:02 PM on September 10, 2009


Another good one from Gary Paulsen, which iirc involves eating caribou eyeballs, is Dogsong.
posted by Neofelis at 1:13 PM on September 10, 2009


The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques. Anthropomorphic woodland creatures in a Middle Ages-type setting, with absolutely wonderful characters and awesome battle scenes! My little brother and I looooooved these novels.
posted by hegemone at 1:23 PM on September 10, 2009


If I can ride this thread, it would be great if people could point out non-scary and non-violent stories, for those of us with more sensitive boys. (Maybe just note if your suggestion is non-scary/violent.)
posted by acoutu at 1:26 PM on September 10, 2009


The original (i.e., non-Disney) Peter Pan is a wonderful adventure for swashbuckling little boys.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2009


Casting in a vote for Roald Dahl, particularly:

the BFG (my favorite!)
the Witches
Matilda

Oh, and also Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

Sideways Stories from Wayside High are also a set of silly stories a young boy might like.
posted by cranberryskies at 1:48 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]



Nthing the Hobbit. It's probably the reason I love reading so much to this day.


I came in to say this. One of the brightest childhood memories is my mom reading that to me.
posted by anti social order at 1:55 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


At that age, my mother was reading me Poe, primarily the short horror pieces. I am, of course, a girl, and very tomboyish, but YMMV.
posted by strixus at 2:47 PM on September 10, 2009


Johnny Tremain was my favorite at 5, followed closely by Padraic Colum's versions of the Oddyssey and Greek myths.
posted by weebil at 3:00 PM on September 10, 2009


Magic Treehouse books are popular with kids that age.

We also liked Artemis Fowl, but your son may be too young for him. And I always found the Series of Unfortunate Events books depressing, but my oldest son enjoyed them.

For myself, I always enjoyed the Narnia series.
posted by misha at 3:14 PM on September 10, 2009


The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Fun, simple plots told in a kid's voice, and you learn a little about Greek mythology too!
posted by alygator at 3:39 PM on September 10, 2009


Less literary, but possibly more age appropriate: The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne. My kids loved these (39 and counting) books read to them at age five, and loved reading them themselves at 6 and 7.
posted by Malla at 4:25 PM on September 10, 2009


If graphics are not a problem, try Tintin
posted by IndigoJones at 4:52 PM on September 10, 2009


Tale of Despereaux, A to Z Mysteries, and a Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket are some that come to mind.
posted by Flacka at 5:10 PM on September 10, 2009


Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West With Lewis and Clark

Lots of good Indian and explorer stories. My daughter LOVED it at 5-6-7 years, but she had a precocious interest in the American West, so it was right up her alley.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:50 PM on September 10, 2009


Not an adventure story, per se, but my mom read the Paddington stories to me when I was that age. Good for the more sensitive kids. :)
posted by purlgurly at 6:17 PM on September 10, 2009


The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Also, if scary ones are OK, Coraline
posted by cheesegrater at 6:55 PM on September 10, 2009


Response by poster: Thanks to you all for your suggestions. I'm not going to pick a best answer, since there are so many good ones.
posted by kitfreeman at 5:56 AM on September 12, 2009


Agreed with many of the above. Also the D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:16 PM on September 13, 2009


Which I realize isn't a novel, but does feature lots of cliffhangers.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:27 PM on September 13, 2009


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