Many of the books listed below could be read by preteens as well, but all should be read at some point. Many are great tales of adventure. Since some of you are searching for books which were written during a particular time period, I have provided the year of the original publication of each book. I have also noted the lifespan of each author. There are three companies which publish materials for reading comprehension: Veritas Press, Teacher Created Materials, and Progeny Press. If you click on the author's name you will be taken to another article about the author. If you click on any title in blue you will be taken to a site where you can read that novel for free.
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (1908 - 1973; American) - The old stray dog certainly is ugly and a thieving rascal, but out here on the Texas frontier a dog is a good companion, especially with Dad away on a cattle drive. Publication 1956.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1876 - 1916; American) - A domesticated dog, Buck, is kidnapped and sold to gold hunters. To survive he has to learn to listen to the call of the wild and learn the ways of his wolf ancestors. Eventually, he falls into the ownership of John Thornton, whose life Buck saves twice. Publication 1903. If you have not yet discovered the series known as "WHOLE STORY" please check them out. They are particularly good for reluctant readers. The book shown here is from that series. Books in the series have pictures and information about the time and place in which the story takes place.
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (1891 - 1968; American) - Johnny is an apprentice to a silversmith in Boston (not Paul Revere) in the days just prior to the American Revolution. An accident ends his apprenticeship. In the days following his accident he meets Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and many other men of history. Publication 1944.
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745; Anglo-Irish) - Lemuel Gulliver travels to a series of very unusual and heretofore unknown lands. In one place he is a giant compared to the Lilliputians. In another, he is the size of a mouse compared to the people he finds. He also finds a floating island and a place where intelligent horses are served by humanoids. Publication 1726. This was made into a movie starring Ted Danson.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1660 - 1731; English) - Crusoe finds himself stranded on an uncharted island off the coast of South America for nearly 30 years. He must find food, shelter, and clothing. He survives because of his faith in God. Many years after landing on the island, he saves a man named, Friday, who is about to be eaten by cannibals and Friday becomes Crusoe's faithful servant. Publication 1719.
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss (1743 - 1848; Swiss) - Fritz, Ernest, Jack, Franz, Mother, and Father survive a shipwreck and find themselves stranded on a deserted island near New Guinea. Being a religious family they offer thanks to God for all that he has provided. They salvage all that they can from the ship. They build a tree house for protection from wild animals, find food, make candles from berries, bread from roots, and a canoe from a tree. They face snakes, wolves, bears, and a lion, but are doing quite well until they discover a way to leave the island. Who will go? Who will stay? This was made into a movie a very long time ago. Publication 1812.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894; Scot) - Young Jim Hawkins, an innkeeper's son, finds a treasure map among the belongings of a dead seaman. Pirates seek that very map and Jim finds himself in quite a predicament. On board ship, Jim overhears Long John Silver's plans for mutiny. This has also been made into a movie. Publication 1883.
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (1828 - 1905; French) - Phineas Fogg tries to make his way around the globe in 80 days in order to win a bet of 20,000 pounds. He is accompanied on his journey by a servant and they implore all sorts of modes of travel (elephant, sled, balloon, etc.). Publication 1873.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1828 - 1905; French) - Professor Aronnax leads an expedition attempting to destroy a giant sea monster. Their efforts with harpoons are futile and the men find themselves in the water. Later, they are captured by the enigmatic Captain Nemo on his underwater vessel, the Nautilus. Publication 1870. The movie starred a rather young Kirk Douglas.
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936; English) Includes many tales including How the Leopard Got His Spots. Publication 1912.
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936; English) - Harvey Cheyne is a spoiled rich teenager who considers himself above the manual labor aboard the ship. Then he falls overboard and his rescued by a fisherman who insists he earn his keep. Publication 1897.
The Black Pearl by Scott O'Dell (1898 - 1989; American) - Ramon and his father seek pearls of the coast of Baja, California. Ramon dreams of finding a valuable black pearl, but he also thinks of the monster of the deep, Manta Diablo. When he does find a black pearl he is warned that to keep it risks the wrath of the monster. Publication 1967.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (1998 - 1989; American) - This is the true story of an Indian girl, Karana, who spent 18 years alone on an island off the coast of California. Publication 1960.
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894; Scot) - Young David Balfour went to visit his uncle after his father's death. Uncle Ebenezer wants to steal the boy's inheritance and won't stop at murder. David is soon kidnapped and on board a ship facing a life of slavery. The story is set in 18th century Europe. Publication 1886.
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894; Scot) - This tale of adventure is set during the War of the Roses (15th century England). Dick Shelton is pursued by both sides and finds refuge with a group of outlaws who are out for revenge with their black arrows. Publication 1883.
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894; Scot) - A doctor changes from a respected, mild mannered London physician into a monster by drinking a potion. Publication 1886.
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896 - 1953; American) - This story is set in the backwoods of Florida in the 1860's. A twelve year old boy, Jody Baxter, raises an orphaned fawn, but as the animal grows problems arise and he must set it free. Publication 1939.
The Adventuresof Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green (1918 - 1987; English) - This is a folktale which began as a ballad during the Middle Ages. Robin and his band of outlaws hide in Sherwood Forest, stealing from the rich who pass by and giving to the poor in the neighborhood. Publication 1956.
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green (1918 - 1987; English) - This is the tale of King Arthur, his Queen Guinevere, Merlin, the magician, Lancelot, and the other knights of the Round Table. It is all about chivalry, bravery, honor, and loyalty. Publication 1950's.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1835 - 1910; American) - This story is set in Hannibal, Missouri, the boyhood home of Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens). You will hear about how Tom got lost in a cave. There are many in the area because of all the limestone. You will also learn how Tom managed to get out of painting the fence Aunt Polly told him to paint. Samuel Clemens said that the events in this book were true, though Tom was actually based upon the combination of traits and adventures of three different boys, Sam, John Briggs, and Will Bowen. Publication 1876.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1835 - 1910; American) - This book has been banned by some schools and libraries. It contains a word that we no longer use, but during the time Twain was writing the word was common. Rather than rewriting history, we should learn from it. Huck lives with Widow Douglas and Widow Watson, but can not tolerate their attempts to "sivilize" him. Jim, a slave, runs away with Huckleberry who has reasons of his own to flee. Together they have quite the adventure as they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft. They experience mistaken identity, practical jokes, narrow escapes, violence, and superstition. The character Huckleberry was based upon a childhood friend, Tom Blankenship. Publication 1885.
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain (1835 - 1910; American) - Two boys of very unequal status, Prince Edward and a beggar named Tom Canty, trade places. Accurately portrays some cruel laws and customs of mid-16th century England. Publication 1881.
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924; Polish) - A young navy officer is found guilty of cowardice and stripped of his rank. For many years he lives with the guilt. Eventually, he becomes the ruler of a remote Malay village where he must face the pirate, Gentleman Brown, and his crew of cut-throats. Publication 1900.
The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas (1802 - 1870; French) - The year is 1625. A young D'Artagnan arrives in Paris and meets the three musketeers, Porthos, Aramis, and Athos, who work for Louis XIII of France. He immediately insults them. However, when the four are attacked by five of the Cardinal's guards, the young man acquits himself quite well with his fencing skills and the four become friends. They are off to many adventures. Publication 1844.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (1802 - 1870; French) - Count Edmond Dantes has been imprisoned for life. After 14 years in jail, he escapes, finds a hidden treasure, and becomes very wealthy. He then seeks revenge against his old enemies. Lots of drama, intrigue, and suspense in the days of the Napoleonic Empire. Publication 1845 - 1846.
Don Quixote of the Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes (1547 - 1616; Spanish) - Don Quixote, the knight-errant, and his squire and traveling companion, Sancho, have many grand adventures. Where Quixote sees armies, castles, high-born ladies, and giants, Sancho sees sheep, inns, farm girls, and windmills. The first part was published in 1605 and the second in 1615.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870; English) - A orphaned boy in a workhouse creates quite a stir by asking for more food. He is sold as an apprentice to an undertaker and things continue to worsen. Then he meets up with a band of pickpockets lead by an old man named Fagin. Serialised between 1837 and 1839.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870; English) - This is a tale of two very different places, London and Paris, during the French Revolution. Dr. Manette, who had been a prisoner in the Bastille is released to his daughter Lucie. Then Lucie's husband, Charles Darnay, is tried for treason against the French government. He is acquitted and flees from France, but returns to free someone else, and is condemned to death. Publication 1859.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870; English) - A young boy is visits his parents' graves in a churchyard near some lonely marshes. A wretched looking convict starts up from the graves and grabs the boy by the throat. The convict threatens to kill the boy unless he does what he is told. This frightful errand is difficult for Pip. Publication 1860 -1861.
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870; English) - This book is said to be somewhat autobiographical. David is sent at a young age to work in a factory. In London, he meets all sorts of characters: Mr. Micawber, an spendthrift, and Uriah Heep, an lawyer's clerk. It is said that this was Dickens favorite of his novels. Publication 1849.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1926 - ____; American) Publication 1960.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1911 - 1993; British) A group of school boys stranded on a deserted island attempt to self-govern with disastrous consequences. Publication 1954.
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester (1899 - 1966; English) - Mr. Midshipman Hornblower - The year is 1793 and Horatio Hornblower is a 17 year old boy who is ordered to board a French merchant ship and take command. This is the first in a series of adventures for the young man.
Lieutenant Hornblower by C. S. Forester (1899 - 1966; English) - This is the second book (of 11) in the series. The seafaring Hornblower is promoted to Acting Lieutenant under the command of an insane Queeg-like of a ship's captain. The ship runs aground, is attacked by Spaniards, and Hornblower saves the day. You will find lots of adventure. 1952.
Hornblower and the Hotspur by C. S. Forester
Hornblower During the Crisis by C. S. Forester
Hornblower and the Atropos by C. S. Forester
Beat to Quarters by C. S. Forester
Ship of the Line by C. S. Forester
Flying Colours by C. S. Forester
Commodore Hornblower by C. S. Forester
Lord Hornblower by C. S. Forester
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies by C. S. Forester