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Clean adventure books for elementary and middle school kids

By Summer Lane

Photo: Deposit

Since adopting a predominantly television-free lifestyle last fall, my family has been a lot better off. We sometimes watch one movie on Sunday, but for the most part, movies, cartoons, and television in general have been largely removed from our home routine. Instead, we focus on playing board games, taking walks, spending time together in the garden, and my favorite: reading together!

My daughter is at an age where she can’t quite read independently yet, so we still read together every night. I sensed very early on with her that picture books were not going to cut it for very long, so in late 2022, I switched over to reading her abridged classic novels like Black Beauty and Tom Sawyer.

I’ve discussed our literary adventures before here on the CCM blog, and today I have a new author to recommend! We have been absolutely smitten with the writing of Rosanne Parry, because she tells stories of the natural world around us and the beautiful creatures of the wild in a way that is both engaging for young children and gripping for adults.

My impression is that her books are largely for elementary-aged children, although I think some of her books may technically be geared for junior-high readers. Regardless, I have found that a few of her books have been perfectly appropriate for my five-year-old.

Our favorites so far have been A Wolf Called Wander, which tells the true story of a wolf named Swift who is separated from his pack and journeys through the Pacific Northwest, alone.

Here is the full summary:

Swift lives with his pack in the mountains until one terrible day rival wolves invade their home. Alone and hungry, Swift must make a choice: Stay and try to eke out a desperate life on the borders of his old hunting grounds, or search for a new home. But the journey he has to make is long and full of peril for a lone wolf. Will Swift find the courage to survive all by himself? 

As an adult, this was one of the most poignant books I have ever read about a wolf’s life, other than The Call of the Wild, by Jack London. This book was touching, gripping, and beautifully written. My daughter absolutely loved it – and it is fully and gorgeously illustrated! We read 1-2 chapters every night and finished it fairly quickly.

Another one of our favorites is A Horse Named Sky, which maintained a 15-week position on The New York Times’ bestseller list for Middle Grade Hardcover books.

The novel tells the story of a young horse named Sky who is taken from his family by strange and rugged men. He is then trained to be a Pony Express horse who runs between the “Stop” and the “Go” in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I loved this book because I have grown up exploring the Sierra Nevadas, so this book was very close to my heart.

It is a wonderful story of strength, resilience, and the spirit and heart of a horse. My daughter has been captivated by this story, just as she was fascinated with Swift’s story of survival.

Here is the summary for A Horse Named Sky:

In mid-19th-century Nevada, a colt named Sky grows up to lead his band of wild horses.

Parry’s moving story follows the pattern of her recent animal tales, A Wolf Called Wander (2019) and A Whale of the Wild (2020), chronicling a wild animal’s life in the first person, imagining its point of view, and detailing and appreciating the natural world it inhabits. As Sky grows from wobbly newborn to leader of his family, he faces more than the usual challenges for colts who must fight their stallions or leave their herds when they are grown up. Fagan’s appealing black-and-white illustrations help readers envision this survival story. Sky’s adventures include forced service with the Pony Express; being befriended by an enslaved Paiute boy; escaping to find his now-captured band; and helping them escape the silver miners who’d destroyed their world. Animal lovers will applaud his ingenuity and stubbornness. Although Sky’s band has suffered serious injuries (his mother is blind), he and Storm, a mare who was his childhood companion, lead them toward safety in a new wilderness. The writer’s admiration for these wild horses and her concerns about human destruction of their environment come through even more clearly in a series of concluding expository essays discussing the wild horses, the Indigenous Americans, the natural history of the Great Basin, silver mining, and the Pony Express.

Learn more about the book and the inspiration and research behind it right HERE!

Roseanne Parry also has other books like Written in Stone (about a girl who dreams about hunting whales), and Heart of a Shepherd (a boy who runs his grandparents’ ranch while his father is deployed to Iraq). There is also another animal-based novel from Parry called, A Whale of the Wild. The book follows the tale of Vega, an Orca whale in the Salish Sea and her battle for survival after being separated from her pod by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. Check it out here.

You can learn more about the author’s books HERE.

We are also starting the Pippi Longstocking series next week, as well as Amelia Bedelia Means Business (#1).

Do YOU have any book recommendations that are full of good, clean, adventures? Drop them here!






The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team. This specific article was written by Summer Lane, and may not be reproduced, except to quote for reviews or interviews, without the express permission of the author. 



Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 30 books, including the hit Collapse Series. She is an experienced journalist and columnist who reports on news within the U.S. and abroad. She is the Associate Editor for Right Side Broadcasting Network. Additionally, she owns Write Revolution News, where she provides a rapid-fire feed of the nation’s most important America First news and events.

Summer is also a mom and wife who enjoys rural country living, herding cats and ducks, and reading fiction. She is passionate about writing on women’s issues, parenting, and politics from a theologically-grounded perspective that points readers to the good news of the gospel.

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