This was one of my favorite books as a kid — we read it for a book report in elementary school, and I reread it over and over for years after that. When I saw a copy at a book sale for a dollar — with the same cover I remembered! — I knew it was time to reread it again. It’s held up wonderfully.
“I must say this now about that first fire. It was magic. Out of dead tinder and grass and sticks came a live warm light. It cracked and snapped and smoked and filled the woods with brightness. It lighted the trees and made them warm and friendly. It stood tall and bright and held back the night.”
In case you missed this one in school, My Side of the Mountain is about a boy named Sam who decides to run away from his huge family’s cramped apartment to the Catskill Mountains. He hollows out a tree, fishes and hunts, befriends a hawk named Frightful and survives off the land and his wits for almost a year before deciding to return home. The author includes recipes for eating wild plants and animals, and little illustrations appear every few chapters. It’s a great book — simple dialogue but gorgeous descriptions of the land — and it’s impossible not to dream of running away yourself while reading it.