We Recommend: Nature-Loving 8-Year-Old

It's We Recommend, in which we use our superpowers to find readers the perfect book. Got a kid who needs a recommendation?
Write us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com with the age,
reading tastes, favorite books, and any other relevant (or irrelevant)
information, and we'll give it a shot. And really? All the good
suggestions are in the comments.

We got a short, sweet email from someone looking for books. See here:

My son just turned 8 yrs old.  He has enjoyed "The Sign of The Beaver" by Elizabeth George Speare and also "The Island of The Blue Dolphins" by Scott O' Dell. 

Do you have any recommendations for similar books? 

There is something profoundly comforting to me about this request. Clearly he has an affinity for those natural world, wilderness-bound books of youth. And there are so many excellent books like this! That these are what he is looking for makes me believe, somehow, that all is not lost. Not to put too much weight on the kids or anything.

But to get to what's important: the books. The first thing that occurred to me is that soother of souls, The Trumpet of the Swan. Oh, how I love that book! Chestnut has been struggling with repeated onslaughts of strep throat, and the thing that helps in the middle of the night when you have a temperature of 103.5 and the dark seems too much to bear, is to have a grownup read about good old Sam Beaver walking quietly through the wilds of Canada finding the nest of the Trumpeter swans. Also? Little House in the Big Woods, which is unfairly shoved into the "girls books" corral (more on that later), but has that same, strange woodsy appeal. Then there is Hatchet, which is intense but perfect. But for our actual pick, we defer entirely to Chestnut, who is home and on yet another antibiotic, and is a connoisseur of this particular type of book.


I hope you all are experiencing, somehow, some measure of peace and hope. And I know, without any doubt at all, that you all have about a million natural world adventures to offer to this person—put them in the comments, and thank you all, as always, for your reliable generosity.

16 thoughts on “We Recommend: Nature-Loving 8-Year-Old

  1. Yes to Chestnut’s pick (it really is written at a fairly simple level so if he is not quite ready now he will be soon). Also, he could try Farmer Boy, which is a good book if the other ones are too girl centered for his comfort.
    I also recommend Gone Away Lake- as Julian Jarman may be just the kind of kid he’d like to “meet”.
    Charlotte’s Web may be too sad or fantastic in nature- but it is all about animals.


  2. Perfect pick Chestnut! George also has other books that may be of interest at varying reading levels.
    I loved Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls too. Swiss Family Robinson may be a fun one.


  3. Curses! Chestnut took my perfect suggestion.
    Ooh! How about Gerald Durrell’s “My Family and Other Animals”? It makes one wonder why one isn’t living on Corfu RIGHT NOW. If that works well, he wrote other books. Also, then you could move somewhat laterally into the “All Creatures Great and Small” series.


  4. Black Stallion. Julie of the Wolves. White Fang. Shiloh. The Incredible Journey. Where the Red Fern Grows. Cricket in Times Square. Redwall. Old Yeller. James Herriot.


  5. Some of Farley Mowat’s could probably work.
    Owls in the Family in particular, but also Never Cry Wolf and The Dog who Wouldn’t Be.
    (Canadian literature)


  6. Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry (similar to Island of the Blue
    Dolphins in that a young boy is stranded on an island in the Pacific
    Ocean and struggles to survive)
    Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, which contains beautiful,
    evocative descriptions of the natural world. Miss Hickory is a doll
    made from an apple twig with a nut for a head. I noticed a
    reviewer on Amazon mention how traumatized they were when
    Miss Hickory’s head gets eaten by a squirrel, so I guess if your
    son is an overly sensitive soul, you might want to pass on this


  7. My Side of the Mountain was exactly my pick. But since Chestnut so aptly named it, I would add “Lad, a Dog” by Albert Payson Terhune. My 9-year old son received it last Christmas, and has happily read and re-read it since. Terhune wrote lots of books about the Sunnybank collies, so if Lad appeals, I urge you to turn to Bruce, Gray Dawn, and Treve.
    Also, get well soon, Chestnut!


  8. Hmm…they may be difficult to find, but Ivan Southall wrote stories about children caught in natural disasters without (or with minimal) adult supervision…I loved them when I was just a bit older than 8. He was Australian and I remember reading and loving Hill’s End and Ash Road in particular.


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