Kon Tiki:Across the Pacific on a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl is the most memorable adventure story ever. It is available in mass market paperback and in older used hardback editions.
To be honest, it isn’t an easy read for a middle schooler but it is sooo worth it. No modern navigational equipment, no communication, no safety vessel trailing behind them.
Six men, a balsa wood raft, a parrot named Lorita, and the wide wide Pacific Ocean. The reader will be gulping for air along side the crew through rogue waves and foul weather. The marine life they discover and encounter is carefully detailed.
I have an old hardback copy of this book with maps and photos. Each year, I am on the lookout for the student who I think would enjoy it most and I loan it to the student with the guarantee that it is the greatest adventure ever. Every few years, I ask my colleagues if we can put it on the 7th grade booklist but in reality, it is too long and too difficult. But I’ll keep trying.
Thor Heyerdahl’s faith in his theory, his bravery and even his leadership skills seem to be a rare thing these days which is why it is so important to read and reread his story.
This month there will be a limited release of the movie which is getting rave reviews. It was filmed in Norway simultaneously in Norwegian and in English. Below is a link to the Carpetbagger blog post about the making of the movie.