We had dragged out all the camping gear for the umpteenth time that year. I had finally lost count! When the kids were all at home, we took lots of weekend trips and week long camping adventures. Looking back, I am so thankful for every messy, crazy camping venture we did. There is something about being outside together, setting up camping, building bonfires and telling stories that brings a family closer. Since I’m not a natural story teller, I love to find adventuresome or funny books to real aloud to my family. So here are 10 great books to read on your next family camping trip!
Whether you enjoy reading aloud in the family car on the road or sitting around the bonfire you will love this selection of books to read on your next family camping trip. What joy it brings to look around and see your family smiling or listening intently for what happens next. The book recommendations are for tweens, teenagers and up!
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10 Great Books to Read on Your Family Camping Trip
Before we begin I do need to make a confession. I am a bit (read a huge!) of a survival junky. I LOVE stories where a person overcame the odds. So I will sprinkle in a few of those books too.
Bear in the Backseat: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
On our most recent trip to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, I decided to purchase a new book. Bear in the Backseat is such a jewel and set up perfectly for a read aloud. We had so much fun driving through the national park reading this book!!
Divided into short stories, Bear in the Backseat is Kim DeLozier’s adventures as a wildlife ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains. Ranger DeLozier’s stories will delight and rivet even the most bored teenager! His stories are sprinkled with interesting facts about the park, but also full of the crazy adventures that occur when you work with wild animals. One of my favorite stories included 75 skunks on a road trip through the park!!
Hey Ranger! True Tales of Humor and Misadventures from America’s National Park
If you enjoyed Bear in the Backseat, you will probably love Hey Ranger! by Jim Burnett. Ranger Burnett focuses a lot on the humor of working with the public in the national parks. His tales of observing vacationers trying to unload their boats at the boat ramp had me in tears!!
The author does wander a bit. But if you enjoy reading on vacation and entertaining your family with short excerpts as you read, this is a delightful book!
Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in the Great Smoky Mountains
Split into short stories, this book details all the crazy adventures and mishaps that have happened in the Great Smoky Mountains. It shares tales that have long been forgotten and more recent events.
If your family enjoys a little scare around the campfire, then you will enjoy hearing these tales of misfortune and disaster.
Lost! A Ranger’s Journal of Search and Rescue
Don’t allow the simply cover and small size to deceive you! Detailing a ranger’s adventures doing search and rescue the book explores those that survived and the ones that did not come home.
When I first read Lost! A Ranger’s Journal of Search and Rescue, I could not BELIEVE what I was reading! I was riveted to the book, as well as horrified! This older book brought home the realization how at risk teens are. Discover why this group is most at risk to succumbing and dying from the elements. Your family will find this a fascinating read as well as learn some VERY valuable lessons!
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The Sign of the Beaver
This classic book by Elizabeth Speare was loved by all my kids. As the evening grows dark and the campfire glows, entertain your kids with this tale of a young boy who is all alone in the wilderness of the Frontier. And don’t worry if you don’t finish the book. You will find your kids reading Sign of the Beaver later to discover what happens.
Enjoy this book just as an exciting tale or discuss some of the many themes that arise in the book such as hope, courage and prejudice.
Lost on a Mountain in Maine
Sure to appeal to your kids’ wilderness spirit, this true story is about a 12 year old boy lost in the Maine wilderness. Donn Fendler becomes separated from his group and soon realizes he is completely lost. Follow him as he makes day to day decisions trying to survive.
This book is unusual because it is written from the boy’s first person perspective. They even use his dialect, which some of your audience will love but others may not.
Adventuresome Book Series Tweens will Love in the Outdoors
Here are a couple series that are full of historical detail and adventure, perfect for the outdoors, that tweens will enjoy!
I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies of 1967
I’m not sure who was more excited when we discovered this series years ago…my daughter or me! I love these historically accurate juvenile books that take you back in time. Learn about the tsunamis in Japan, explore the shark attacks of 1916 or try to survive the attack of the grizzlies of 1967!
Your whole family will enjoy and learn as you read the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis.
Ranger in Time
What is better than time traveling? Time traveling with your best four legged buddy! Hit the open range with Ranger as he time travels back to the Oregon Trail to help right a wrong.
And if your kids enjoy this book, Ranger has several more books!
Great Books for Mom to Read While Camping
Are you loving the fact that the kids are finally older and can entertain themselves on vacation? I hear ya! Here are some of my favorite vacation books to read while the kids are happily occupied!
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Follow the River
Based on a true story, Follow the River by James Alexander Thom tells the amazing survival journey one woman took to make it back home after being kidnapped by Native Americans. As you cuddle safely under some blankets imagine what it would be like to wonder if the twig you just heard snapping in the woods wasn’t a raccoon but a Shawnee tracking you down!
This is an excellent read and full of real life tough decisions, you will continue to wrestle with long after you put the book down. What would you have done? There is a massacre scene which is vividly depicted, so you may wish to skim those pages, as I prefer.
The Children’s Blizzard
Did you find the I Survived book, I Survived the Children’s Blizzard of 1888 fascinating? Read more about the the blizzard in David Laskin’s book, The Children’s Blizzard.
I found this book intriguing both in how the disaster was compounded by lack of information and the resiliency of those living on the frontier. You will be awe inspired and heartbroken.
Nevada Barr’s series following Ranger Anna Pigeon is a fictional series but steeped in factual details about the national parks. I really enjoy her earlier books. Blind Descent finds Anna Pigeon splunking or cave exploring in an effort to catch a killer. This mystery series is so unique as it is entertaining to read about parks I have visited as well as parks I hope to visit one day! And then to throw in a mystery…I’m sold!
There is typically a little bit of language in her books, and her books take on a more darker tone as the series goes on. So decide what is your reading preference:) And yes…I know, this is actual book 11, but who’s counting!
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10 Great Books to Read on Family Camping Trip
So what are your kid’s favorites? Any books you would recommend to read while camping or enjoying the great outdoors? I’m all ears, so comment below and share!
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