Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Theme: Rivers

A Girl Named Disaster - (ISBN: 978-0140386356)

by Nancy Farmer

Nhamo runs from a cholera epidemic and an imposed marriage by taking off down the river that runs between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, hoping to find her father. Typically a short trip, her journey lasts many months and includes many adventures. At one point, she settles briefly on an island where she is befriended by a herd of baboons. Along the way, she has other friends in the form of spirits that aid and speak to her. Talk about how different her life is from yours.

Down the Colorado: John Wesley Powell, the One-Armed Explorer - (ISBN: 978-0374318383)

by Deborah Kogan Ray

This well-illustrated biography tells the story of the famous explorer John Wesley Powell. Among his feats is one that stands out: his trip leading companions down the Colorado River in 1869. An extensive map shows the route of their travels, and pictures here and there on the map help explain the adventures they have along the way. Make a map of your travels during one summer with illustrations or icons to highlight your favorite parts of the trip.

Journey to the River Sea - (ISBN: 978-0142501849)

by Eva Ibbotson

Maia is excited to go with her governess to South America, She expects a great adventure living along the Amazon. What she does not expect is the snobbery and lack of adventure of her cousins with whom she is living; they do not even want to go outdoors. Eventually, she manages to escape to the outside and meet up with two new friends who have backgrounds similar to hers. Although her trip down the river is not without some peril, its adventure and outcome make this book a great read!

Minn of the Mississippi - (ISBN: 978-0395273999)

by Holling C. Holling

After hatching from a turtle egg, Minn travels down the Mississippi along with her brothers and sisters. Her more than twenty-year journey reveals oodles of details about the life of this famous river and plenty about the life of one turtle fighting against odds to survive and reach the Gulf where the Mississippi meets the ocean. Compare this book to <i>The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn</i>.

Riverboy - (ISBN: 978-0689848049)

by Tim Bowler

Jess, a fanatical swimmer, goes for one last vacation with her ailing, elderly grandfather. When she locates a river for her to swim every day, she comes in contact with a boy eerily similar to the “River Boy” her grandfather has painted. Jess uses her daily swims to help her deal with the stress of her grandfather’s upcoming death. How is the boy she meets while swimming related to the boy on the canvas?

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 - (ISBN: 0670060607)

by Elisa Carbone

Horrible Harry Goes to Sea - (ISBN: 978-0142500026 )

by Suzy Kline

River Danger - (ISBN: 978-0688148522)

by Thomas Dygard

Rivers: Nature’s Wondrous Waterways - (ISBN: 978-1563979682)

by David L. Harrison

Skeleton Creek - (ISBN: 978-0545075664)

by Patrick Carman

The Call of the Wild - (ISBN: 978-0689856747)

by Jack London

Activities for this Theme

Read about the river Ganga in India


Try some water sports on a river. Canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and even tubing are popular in many places in the U.S.


Do you know what the ten longest rivers in the world are? Do you know what countries they are in? Talk about these questions before you look for the answers.