Last Updated 08 Jul 2021

Adventure Stories in Childrens Literature

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Adventure is an important part of children's psyche. Children often dream of strange fortunes, great feats, exciting events, long trips, and everything they can be drawn to from the monotony of everyday life. Heroes of adventure stories are mostly sailors, pirates, cowboys and Indians, convicts, researchers, adventurers and solitaires of all types. The concept of adventure story is quite simple: brave, strong and resourceful hero must make a difficult task, and overcome a lot of danger, but in the end, he wins.

The most important features of adventure stories are a romantic setting, an unusual situation, and the special vitality of characters. The beginnings of adventure genre are found in Homer's Odyssey, Cervantes's Don Quijote, biblical motifs and medieval novels. Europeans and North Americans were having many real-life adventures in the nineteenth century: explorers were seeking the North Pole, Florence Nightingale was pioneering for female independence as a director of nursing in the Crimean War, and a railroad was being constructed across the United States.

If a person could not go to a remote region and overcome the perils lurking there, the best next adventure was the vicarious one offered through books. (Norton, Donna: 59). The most popular writers of children's adventure novels are Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, J. F. Cooper, Zane Grey, Karl May, Howard Pyle, Jules Verne etc. I will introduce you to the most famous writers of adventure stories in children's literature. Daniel Defoe Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 in London, to James and Alice Foe.

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His father worked as a butcher and the young Daniel regretted the fact that he could not attend a prestigious school, such as Oxford or Cambridge. Defoe tried his best to be a gentleman, even changing his name from Foe to Defoe. As a result of his controversial writings, Defoe was arrested, imprisoned for a period of time, tried, and sentenced to pay a fine and to stand three times in the pillory. His novel Robinson Crusoe was published in 1719. The story is about a young man who strongly desires to become a sailor.

In spite of his family's opposition, he runs away to go to sea. His adventures lead him all over the world, but his most important journey is a spiritual one. The novel is basically about the life and adventures of Crusoe on the island, where he arrived after a shipwreck. A series of disasters happen to him as punishment for his rebellious nature. For example he was forced to spend twenty-eight years of his life on that deserted island. On the island, Crusoe is transformed. As he searches for peace, he must come to grips with his relationship to God.

When he finally acknowledges his own Christianity, all the rebelliousness is driven out of him and he begins to live a peaceful existence on the island. This book was inspired by the true story of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor. Robert Louis Stevenson admired it, saying that the footprint scene in Crusoe was one of the greatest in English literature, and most unforgettable: "One day, about noon, going towards my boat, I was exceedingly surprised with the print of a man's naked foot on the shore, which was very plain to be seen on the sand. This scene was a prelude to his meeting with Friday, one of the savages, whom Crusoe rescues from his captors. Crusoe "civilizes" Friday and converts him to Christianity. Friday remains faithful to Crusoe until the end. It is not known how Defoe, living in London, came to know enough to write a story about ships, sailing, pirates, and savages. No matter the sources for Robinson Crusoe, it is definitely an entertaining and realistic adventure tale. Although not written for children, this book was extremely popular with them. It has inspired a new genre, the Robinsonade as works like The Swiss Family Robinson (1812) by Johann David Wyss.

Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift was born in 1667 in Dublin, Ireland. Not only he had been involved in some of the most important and heated political events of the time, but he was also a well-known political journalist and satirist whose style was, to say the least, distinctive. He wrote a masterpiece named Gullivers Travels (1726). It is a tale of a surgeon Lemuel Gulliver as he voyages to the strange lands. As you follow Gulliver through four traumatic voyages, you are exposed to a host of creatures and situations and systems of their devising.

The book consists of four parts where the stories of Gulliver's experiences among dwarfs and giants are best known. It was written as a satire, but it was read by children for its humor and adventure. Allegory is one of Swift's most important satirical tools which means that characters, situations, and places have a significance that goes beyond simply what they are in themselves. It shows Jonathan's desire to encourage people to read deeper and not take things for granted. Since in this book he wrote about certain political figures, he published the book anonymously.

He could never have actually named real names in his novel. It didn't take long for people to catch on to the fact that the author was writing about England. And it also didn't take long for the public to discover that the author was Jonathan Swift. Swift's satire is designed to keep you an independent reader, the characters are meant to stimulate you, not to lead you. Swift's aim in this book is for you to come to terms with your ideas on some important questions regarding humanity and to be aware of the factors that influence your beliefs.

The novel is written in the form of a travel book. Swift chose this device because travel tends to change our perspective on the world around us. As Gulliver voyages, and we voyage with him, his (and our) viewpoint changes according to the place(s) in which he finds himself and the things that happen to him there. Robert Louis Stevenson Stevenson was born in 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He suffered from tuberculosis and often travelled abroad in search for a healthy climate. His childish mind was greatly developed by his nurse and her stories of ghosts and fairies.

Christened as 'Robert Lewis Balfour', at the age of 18 he dropped the name Balfour and changed his middle name from Lewis to Louis. His first major sucess was Treasure Island (1883). The story is set in the mid-18 century and owes a little in style to Robinson Crusoe. This story had an interesting beginning. While trying to entertain his stepson, Stevenson drew a watercolor map of an island, then followed his drawing with the now famous story of pirates, buried treasure, and a young boy's adventures. (Norton, Donna: 60).

After the mysterious death of the old sailor, the main character Jim Hawkins finds a map of the island with hidden treasure. He wanted to see if it was a true treasure map so he got a crew and they set sail. On their way to the island, Hawkins and his friends will be confronted with the pirates who want the treasure for themselves. Treasure Island is an exciting adventure story, filled with morals that need to be incubated into a growing child. The author narrates these through the protagonist, Jim Hawkins, who is an immature, naturally curious and adventurous young boy.

Stevenson's other famous work is Kidnapped (1886). David Balfour is the protagonist of the book. At the age of sixteen, he is an orphan with youthful dreams that are interrupted by his wicked uncle. He has David kidnapped, hoping to have him sent to America and sold as a slave so he can be the sole inheritor of his nephew's fortune. The main theme of Kidnapped is good conquers evil. It is both an adventure story and a historical novel. David Balfour's adventures created enough thrill, excitement, and suspense to become a children's classic almost immediately.

It is also valued as a novel that relates the history of Scotland in the 18th century. Stevenson never intended to be a writer of adventure stories, but with Treasure Island and Kidnapped he brought that genre to the peak of its achievement in the 19th century and inspired many later writers. His influence can be seen in such diverse works as James Matthew Barries Peter Pan. Mark Twain Mark Twain was born as Samuel Clemens in 1835 in Florida, Missouri. After the beginning of the Civil War he became a reporter, starting to use the pseudonym Mark Twain.

He was the greatest American writer of realistic adventure. Twain grew up in the river town of Hannibal, Missouri, where he lived many of the adventures about which he later wrote. His humorous tales of human nature, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), remain standard texts in high school and college literature classes. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a fun-filled adventure story, where the author looks at life through the eyes of boys approaching their teenage years.

Through them, Twain reveals that life is an adventure - filled with fun, romance, surprises, humor, sorrow, and fear. Growing up along the Mississippi River, Tom and his best friend Huck play hooky, pull pranks, and even run away to become pirates. The boys are not presented in a romantic manner; instead, they reflect the realities of life. Twain once said that he began writing Tom Sawyer as the recollections of his boyhood memories, and the characters in the book are based upon real people from the author’s childhood.

This is much more than a children’s book; it is truly a timeless, classic about childhood that is simply set in an earlier, more peaceful and idyllic time. In the same year (1876) when The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published, Twain began its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which he called “another boy’s book. ” Huck Finn, a boy of about 12 years, is the son of the town drunk. Widow Douglas adopts him so that she can civilize him and raise him to be a gentleman. Although she is kind and attentive, he is uncomfortable and feels stifled at her house.

He does not like going to school, attending church, or wearing neat clothes. Huck must make a difficult decision about whether or not to turn in Jim, a runaway slave, who becomes a friend to him. The novel has a more serious tone than The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, for it deals with social issues like racial prejudice and slavery. This book has been repeatedly restricted in American high scools for its frequent use of the word «nigger», which was a common term when the book was written.

Twain was a master in using colloquial speech and helped to create distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. The Prince and the Pauper (1882) is a story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical. The story is set in the 16th century, England, under the reign of the autocratic ruler, Henry VIII. During this period, the rich lived in the lap of luxury, while the poor struggled to survive. Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales and son of Henry VIII, lives in the palace, while Tom Canty, a beggar and the son of the drunkard, John Canty, lives in poverty.

Through a chance encounter, the two boys exchange roles and experience life as the other. The Prince and the Pauper is a children's adventure tale, since it is narrated in a simple style. but it also contains the elements of social criticism. Conclusion Adventure is something that comes out of the frame of everyday life. Adventure stories in children's literature are filled with strange journeys, shipwrecks, pirates, looking for the hidden treasure, life on a deserted island etc.

Frequency of travel corresponds to children's wishes and their psychology, because children love to travel. All the above-mentioned writers were a little bit strange: they changed their names and were extremely introverted. Society did not understand them. On the basis of their uniqueness, they wrote their most famous pieces.


  1. Norton, Donna. Through the Eyes of a Child: An Introduction to Children's Literature.
  2. Carpenter, Humphrey and Prichard, Mari. The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature.

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