Middle School to Young Adult Books

Theme: Transportation and Travel

Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo - (ISBN: 978-0803718043)

by Tom Feelings

In this gorgeous art book, Tom Feelings confronts his people’s past and learns of the voyage of slaves to the new world. Powerful pictures that speak throughout this volume; it portrays the painfully searing life of captives aboard a sailing vessel taking them to the new world. How do these stark photos make you want to read more?

Murder on the Orient Express - (ISBN: 978-0062073495)

by Agatha Christie

Join the life of the rich elite as they travel on this magnificently outfitted train across a continent. After a blinding snowstorm stops the train, a millionaire is found dead in his locked compartment. How does Poirot find the killer, a killer who must be among the passengers aboard the train?

Our Time on the River - (ISBN: 0618311165)

by Don Brown

Two brothers take a meaningful canoe trip just before the older is scheduled to ship out to Vietnam. Their experiences change their relationship after one saves the other’s life. The book provides a poignant story set against the cultural backdrop of the 1960’s in America.

The Phantom Tollbooth - (ISBN: 978-0394815008)

by Norton Juster

Milo’s epic trip begins when he boards his toy car after a mysterious tollbooth appears in his bedroom. The once bored teen encounters a awe-inspiring people, rescues princesses, and survives the Doldrums. If you enjoy humor, word play, and irony, take a look at this book, loved by generations of children.

Wild Man Island - (ISBN: 978-0380733101)

by Will Hobbs

Andy is nearly triumphant in his solo kayak trip, but a brutal storm forces him into survival mode on an adjacent island. Thoughts of his father’s fatal accident nearby spur him to search frantically for ways to eat, survive nature’s assaults, and deal with strange island inhabitants. What do you admire most about his efforts?

Canoe Boy - (ISBN: 978-1456340575)

by Chip Chandler

Death on the Nile - (ISBN: 978-0425200469)

by Agatha Christie

Flight to Arras - (ISBN: 978-0156318808)

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Stock Car Sam - (ISBN: 978-1453704134)

by Charles Loomis

Activities for this Theme

Take an everyday journey via two different types of transportation and compare the two. Perhaps try a subway and a cab or a bicycle and your own feet. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?


Talk to a grandfather or other older family member and ask about memories of antique cars. You might find that you learn about more than automobile travel!


If you live near the DC area, visit the Transportation Hall at the Smithsonian’s Museum of History and Technology.


If you live in the Midwest, visit the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI (or find an auto museum near you)