The best adventure books for young teens that inspire imagination

Brian Clifford Author Of Venomous
By Brian Clifford

Who am I?

I’m a middle school science teacher, and many of my students are “readers,” the ones that constantly have their heads in books when they aren’t dragged away by classwork. I created this list because they remind me of what I enjoyed about reading when I was their age, the environment. Characters and plots were great, but I wanted a book to take me somewhere I’d never been. Whether it was the Klondike or soaring through clouds, I needed to believe it was real, someplace I might see for myself. Vivid descriptions that provide fuel for imagination make reading more dynamic.

I wrote...


By Brian Clifford,

Book cover of Venomous

What is my book about?

Oliver Stanton has just been kicked out of school. His mouth just doesn’t know when to quit and it got him into one too many fights. His desperate parents have taken him to Arizona for a change in atmosphere and to meet an estranged uncle. Oliver is amazed at his luck when he sees the man’s house, practically a mansion. Then he meets Gabriella who doesn’t put up with his attitude. He discovers quickly that not everything is sunshine and happiness in the desert. His uncle may not be entirely sane and this new environment is full of dangers from both men and nature. Dangerous as it is, the wild of the desert has a strong pull and hides many secrets.

The books I picked & why

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Tarzan of the Apes: Edgar Rice Burroughs Authorized Library

By Edgar Rice Burroughs, Remo (illustrator),

Book cover of Tarzan of the Apes: Edgar Rice Burroughs Authorized Library

Why this book?

Tarzan of the Apes is one of the first books to completely grab my attention and take me to another place. As a young reader, I lost hours on end exploring Africa with this man separated from all society. Mr. Burroughs has a way of storytelling easily followed and powerfully descriptive. The story is simple but compelling and easily accessible for early teens.


By Alistair MacLean,

Book cover of Athabasca

Why this book?

Have you ever been cold, in your bones cold? That’s what I felt reading Athabasca. Growing up in northern Utah, I thought I knew cold. Then Alistair MacLean introduced me to a true, icy, desperate cold. The atmosphere is so much a part of this story, it’s like a character. I’ll admit, this book challenged me as a young reader. It tends to plod along at glacial pace until the last third of the book, but that end is feverishly spectacular. This book is the first I read by this author and I rapidly devoured all his other titles.

White Fang

By Jack London,

Book cover of White Fang

Why this book?

Jack London is by far my favorite writer of youth-accessible literature, and White Fang is one of his best. My senses came alive as I read about a wolf’s struggle to survive and adapt to changes in its environment. Reading his description of a world through the experience of an animal was transformative. The Klondike became a real and deadly place, vibrant and alive.

No Parachute: A Classic Account of War in the Air in WWI

By Arthur Gould Lee,

Book cover of No Parachute: A Classic Account of War in the Air in WWI

Why this book?

I grew up on Air Force bases, and like most kids, I wanted to fly planes. Arthur Lee gave me the chance to not just fly, but to experience the thrilling life of a pilot during the first world war. His description of life for a fighter pilot in those early days of military aviation captured my heart. The way they lived and the realities they faced revealed on those pages I devoured without sleep. I couldn’t put it down.

Lord of the Flies

By William Golding,

Book cover of Lord of the Flies

Why this book?

An island with no adults and no rules. A teenager’s dream come true! William Golding masterfully brings this scenario to life and offers a wide range of characters to identify with. For me, it was the island itself that was most vividly portrayed. From the sound of the surf hitting the beach to the stench of rot, no detail is overlooked in this world of isolated boys. The social commentary and character analysis are all there for the more advanced reader, but any of us can enjoy a great survival story.

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