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Great Adventure Stories

by Miriam Downey 24. April 2012 11:19

As a young boy, my brother was a great reader--still is today. When he was quite young, he had a book about pirates that he read many times over, and mother probably read it to him as many times as he read it to himself. Lately, he has specialized in books about ultimate adventures, like mountain climbing and exploring. He has become a bit of an expert on Shackleton's adventures in Antarctica.

There are many adventure books that have stood the test of time, books like Kidnapped, Moby Dick, and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. These books are addictive. If you can get a young person to begin reading one of them, he won't be able to quit. The books on this list are available online and are included in the FWU library. These are also great books to listen to as audio books. The audio version of your chosen book will most likely be available at your public library. And, for most of these books, there is a movie available as well; sometimes, several movies have been made of the classic adventure stories.

I recently read some interesting advice from Judy Blume, the children's author, about how to get your child to read a classic book. "First, invest in one with a new cover. Even if you like the old, original covers. Second, don't give it to them. Just leave the books strategically placed around the house and then occasionally say: 'Oh, no. You're not raading that--you're not ready for it yet.'" I might also add, make sure you find a version with illustrations. For a book like Moby Dick, illustrations really help. I particularly like the classic illustrations by N.C. Wyeth which can be found in many of the books by Robert Louis Stevenson, like Treasure Island and Kidnapped.

Some of the best authors in history have written adventure books. Children should be exposed to Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville. They should know about Captain Nemo, Huclkeberry Finn, Phileas Fogg and his valet, Passepartout.

The following list of books includes classic adventure stories that can be accessed online. Just click on the book titles, and you will be taken to the book. You can find more classic books in the FWU library. The next blog posting will be about modern adventure stories that you can find in your library or local book store.

Grades 4-6

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. A balloon trip around the world.

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. An expedition descends into a subterranean world.

Heroes Every Child Should Know by Hamilton Mabie. Hero stories.

Kidnapped ; Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Pirate stories.

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Gray. One of many cowboys Gray wrote about the Old West.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Life on the Mississippi.

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne. The story of Captain Nemo and his submarine, Nautilus.

Grades 7-12

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain. Time travel in medieval times.

Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. An adventure tale during the War of 1812.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. The adventures of Jim, a seaman.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. A classic tale of the sea.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. The classic road trip. This is a book for High School students.

The Odyssey by Homer. The adventure story upon all which all adventure stories are built.


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More on the weather: Books and information for the middle grades

by Miriam Downey 12. April 2012 12:53

There is a man in a community near me who has been tracking the weather as a hobby every day since he was about twelve years old. In the days before computers and the Internet, he kept track of the weather, weather history, and weather trends with charts and notebooks. The local newspaper would contact him to ask if the weather was following trends or if it was veering off into something extreme, much like this March behaved in Michigan. He became the regional amateur weather expert. I think about him often--a man whose passion turned him into an expert. If he were doing it currently, he would probably have a website and a blog, and people all over the world would be checking into his weather report.

The middle grades are when many young people find the interests that will last them a lifetime. And although most kids won't pick meteorology as a career choice, nearly everyone is interested in the weather. Here are some supplemental books and websites to aid with the weather studies in the FWU curriculum or to spark an interest in the curious reader.


The Kids' Book of Weather Forecasting by M. Breen and K. Friestad. Lots of good weather activities. You might also want to connect this book with a weather station kit.

Peterson First Guide to Clouds and Weather by Jay Pasachoff and Vincent Schaefer. This is similar to other Peterson guides--concise, easy to read, and very complete.

Inside Hurricanes by Mary Kay Carlson. Stunning photographs. Includes eyewitness accounts.

Eye of the Storm: Inside the World's Deadliest Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and Blizzards by Jeffrey O. Rosenfeld. A fascinating look at extreme weather and the people who risk their lives to give us an understanding of these phenomena.

Restless Skies: The Ultimate Weather Book by Paul Douglas. Questions answered by a meteorologist.

The Water Cycle

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss. A look at all the water on Earth and the water cycle. Also discusses our limited resource.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba. This is a true story of a boy who built a windmill from junkyard scraps in Malawi. With that windmill, he powered a well which watered the crops to feed his village. It is also available as a picture book.

Climate Change

The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon. Will help kids get interested in the environment.

Weather and Climate by Seymour Simon. Lots of pictures.

All of these books are available at your local library or bookstore.

Here are some weather websites:

The National Weather Service has a lot of information and books about weather. Also videos and other online resources:

Careers in meteorology from the Weather Channel:

A whole list of weather websites from

In your search for weather materials, please also look at the books and websites on my previous posting. You might find some helpful books there as well.


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