June is Great Outdoors Month! It’s time to disconnect, escape into the wilderness, and enjoy some outside activities. Go for a hike, a bike ride, or a swim. Or just grab a book and experience the great outdoors while relaxing in the cool air conditioning of your home.
Here are some of my suggestions for all ages to experience wilderness:
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
This memoir tells of Bryson’s own experience hiking the Appalachian trail with a friend. Using his signature wit and humor, Bryson’s tale also tells the history of the trail and why we need to preserve America’s wilderness. (This is now a movie, too)
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
Subtitled as the extraordinary story of the last true hermit, Finkel introduces Christopher Knight, who in 1986, went into the forest and didn’t talk to another person for 30 years. Knight survived in a tent in the woods and would steal food from nearby cottages, which confused the community for years. This true story hits on themes of survival, community, and living your life the way you want.
The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
Four very different people venture into the wilderness one afternoon, but through a series of random events, they find themselves lost together and must fight to survive and find civilization. Only one of them is an experienced hiker, but they all have to rely on each other and may end up sacrificing everything for a stranger. An intense, emotional survival story.
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Zorie and Lennon used to be best friends. Then they tried to be something more. Now they are enemies, and so are their parents. The two have barely spoken in months, until they are unexpectedly left in the woods. As they make their way back to civilization together, the two must confront their past and possibly find a future together. This is a sweet, contemporary teen romance that also deals with family issues, grief, and friendship, all set in the northern California backcountry.
The Distance From Me to You by Marina Gessner
McKenna has deferred her college acceptance and has decided to hike the Appalachian Trail with her friend. But when her friend backs out, McKenna goes by herself without telling her parents. While on the trail, she meets Sam who has gone to the trail to escape an abusive home. As the two travel together andeventually fall in love, they wander off the trail and are faced with a danger they didn’t see coming.
As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman
Charlie is a black, gay thirteen-year-old who has just found herself in the middle of a Christian backpacking retreat for girls. She struggles with her place in the group and especially in the history of the hike the counselors are telling along the way. As Charlie befriends another girl on the hike who feels the same way, she starts to feel more comfortable. This graphic novel has a strong sense of place with beautiful illustrations of nature, but also touches on many big topics such as sexuality, identity, and religion.
Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna
A young child is told to go outside on a rainy day, only to drop her handheld game into a pond. Dismayed, the child must find other ways to stay amused. She swings in trees, plays in dirt, and explores the beauty of nature. This picture book shows the beauty that happens when you disconnect and what you can find in just your backyard.
Me and You and the Red Canoe by Jean Pendziwol
Two siblings push a red canoe out onto a lake, leaving their campsite behind. On their way, they experience a beautiful morning on the lake, witnessing wildlife along the way. This is a quiet, richly illustrated picture book that will leave you feeling calm.
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
This is an autobiographical graphic novel of the author’s experience at Russian summer camp. Vera felt like an outsider in her suburban town, so she begs to go to Russian summer camp where everyone will be like her (or so she thinks). What she gets is mean girls, gross bathrooms, and lots of nature. It takes a while, but Vera finds her place at camp when she befriends a younger girl. A humorous take on a summer camp experience.
The Courage Test by James Preller
As Will’s dad drags him on an adventure following in Lewis and Clark’s footsteps, he feels like something is not quite right. He climbs mountain cliffs, goes on whitewater rapids, and encounters a bear. But after the adventure, Will has to face the harsh reality of his parents’ divorce. At times emotional, this middle grade novel explores history, adventure, and father/son relationships.
Lisa has worked at the Erlanger Branch since 2005. Most of that time has been in the Children’s Department, where she is currently the full-time library associate. She maintains the juvenile collection, makes book displays and flyers, organizes the schedules, and other miscellany. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and she runs the adult writers group at Erlanger. She also volunteers as a one-to-one reading coach, writes recommendations for juvenile readalikes on Novelist, and contributes reviews to a graphic novel blog.