When kids fall in love with Hatchet, it’s easy to tell them what to read next: My Side Of The Mountain. And the list of enduring classics goes on. But once they’ve devoured Island of the Blue Dolphins, Jack London’s books, and the rest of the classic kids’ survivalist stories, their momentum tends to run out of steam…and their interest in survival books may peter out.
However, there are newer reads that can catch a kid’s attention and keep their excitement going. Here are five survival stories perfect for fans of Hatchet.
The Trail, by Meika Hashimoto
Meiko Hashimoto’s The Trail is my favorite kid’s survival story to come out in recent years. Toby planned to hike the Appalachian Trail with his friend Lucas—it was the last thing on their list of daring things to do together. But Lucas is gone now, so Toby sets out with just his dog, ready to survive the heat and the hunger and the bears…until a storm rolls in, and he finds two boys desperately in need of help. But Toby is a kid alone. How much help can he really give?
Ice Dogs, by Terri Lynn Johnson
What about surviving in the snow? Dogsled racer Victoria Secord is only fourteen, but she’s got things under control—at least, until she loses her way on a routine outing with the dogs. Temperatures are dropping and her food is gone. And then she meets Chris, a boy lost in the woods. Can she keep all of her dogs and Chris alive in the freezing wilderness?
The Skeleton Tree, by Iain Lawrence
You’re on a sailing trip down the Alaskan coast when, out of nowhere, your boat sinks. Everybody dies except you, and a boy who hates you. What do you do? That’s Chris’s struggle in The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence. Chris and Frank have no flares, food, or radio. To survive, they’ll have to scavenge and forage and hope that, somehow, somebody finds them. But the nights are getting longer, the days are getting colder, and they’ll need to work together if they want to survive.
Scar Island, by Dan Gemeinhart
Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys is not the safest place to be. Not only is it full of children who have potentially done terrible things, but it’s structurally completely unsafe: dark, damp, and crumbling into the ocean. It’s a place Jonathan Grisby thinks he deserves—but when a freak accident leaves the boys of the school without adult supervision, they manage to escape. With a whole island to themselves, it should feel like freedom. But if Jonathan can’t rally the group together and get them to safety, then every troubled boy is doomed.
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
Could you keep a bonobo safe? From National Book Award finalist Eliot Schrefer comes Endangered, the first in the Ape Quartet series—making it a perfect place to start for kids who really like to binge-read survival books. Sophie doesn’t want to visit her mother’s sanctuary for bonobos. She’d rather be at home… until Otto, a infant bonobo who lost his mother, connects with Sophie in a way that she’s never experienced before. But the peace of their meeting doesn’t last long. When revolution strikes, the sanctuary is attacked, and the two must escape into the jungles of the Congo. Can Sophie keep her new friend safe… and keep them both alive?
What books would you recommend to young readers who loved Hatchet?