Help your child explore Everest for kids with this curated list of books.
It's no secret that Mt. Everest has been on my mind lately.
Psst: Are you new to these parts? Money Prodigy was awarded The PLUTUS Foundation grant in order to create + deliver the Mt. Everest Money Simulation program to kids aged 8-13 years old. Woohoo!
The Mt. Everest Money Simulation is going to be a pretty wild ride.
In the meantime, I've curated a list of kid's Everest books I've personally read to get you + your child excited about this money simulation. Use this list with year-round reading programs for kids, to fill up a summer reading program, cultivate your child's imagination, before heading out on a hike or to the rock climbing gym, etc.
P.S. I read every single book below! You wouldn't think I'd recommend something without reading it first, would you?
Everest for Kids Book #1: The Top of the World, Steve Jenkins
Everest is no evening stroll. Heck, it's not even a Siberian-winter evening stroll. There are many dangers and discomforts along the way. That's why up until now, only 4,469 people have ever successfully summited it.
What I like about this book is it lays out the many dangers of Everest − frostbite, limited oxygen, huge winds, etc. − for kids to start wrapping their heads around what it would be like to climb to the roof of the world. Think geography textbook, but with beautifully illustrated, cut-paper collages.
Life Lesson(s): This doesn't read like a storybook. So really the life lessons are more like, “if you climb Mt. Everest, which is crazy, there are many dangers involved.” Actually, that's probably a pretty good life lesson for most of us!
Everest for Kids Book #2: First to the Top, David Hill
I'm just in love with the illustrations in this book, which follows Sir Edmund Hillary (knighted because of his Everest Summit) from his New Zealand childhood all the way through to being the first of two people to ever summit Mt. Everest. And the second person who was with him? Tenzing Norgay, who saved his life after Ed fell into an Everest crevasse. The two remain lifelong friends.
I also love how this book lays out a map of Everest with each camp + the height (though in meters) along the way.
Life Lesson(s): Don't give up on your dreams, even if you don't reach them the first time round. Hillary actually had to wait two more years after his first unsuccessful attempt (and go back to beekeeping) before getting his chance at a second, and successful, attempt to summit. Hillary now rests on the New Zealand five-dollar note.
Everest for Kids Book #3: Tiger of the Snows, Robert Burleigh
Did you know that the Sherpa, native people from an ethnic group indigenous to Tibet, are called Tiger of the Snows? This is because of their amazing mountaineering skills, loyalty, and dexterity shown time and time again as they partner with Westerners in their quest for the summit.
Living close to Mt. Everest in the Himalayan area, these people have larger lungs and larger hearts from birth, so they are much more suited and can acclimatize more easily while climbing Mt. Everest. More than 3,000 Sherpas live near Everest, with the majority of them offering work to Himalayan climbers. Like porters, cooks, herders, and high-altitude climbers. In their economy, Sherpas earn around $160/year. Today a Sherpa earns around $1,400-$2,500 per two-month expedition.
In fact, one Tiger of the Snow, Tenzing Norgay, was one of the first two people to summit together with a New Zealander beekeeper to the top of Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953. This beautifully illustrated children's book pairs dramatic poetry to talk about Tenzing's journey from childhood dream to actual summit day.
Life Lesson(s): Dream as a child. Just like Tenzing did. Then do the work to make those dreams come true. And after you do? There might be a little sadness, and there will be much, much joy at what you've accomplished.
Everest for Kids Book #4: The Young Adventurer's Guide to Everest, Jonathan Chester
This book is really a how-to guide for climbing Mt. Everest, from Jonathan Chester, who has lived a life of adventure + exploration. Don't be surprised if your kids start trying to climb the trees outside in expedition-fashion after reading this book, like my brother, sister, and I did with barn harnesses when we were younger!
Funny Note: Right after I typed that about the tree climbing above? I noticed a quote on the last page of this story says, “My best advice for a 10-year old who wants to climb? Start practicing in the tree nearest your house…” So I wasn't too far off there.
Real life info includes things like gear lists, resources, real-life photos, what meals look like on the mountain (spam, anyone?), and very detailed information, such as the strategic placement of zippers and Velcro on down suits so that you can, um, go to the potty.
Life Lesson(s): Maybe how to plan a big expedition? Again, this book does not read like a story, so the life lessons don't wrap up nicely at the end.
Everest for Kids Book #5: Into the Unknown, Steward Ross
This is a book that looks at several infamous explorations of land, sea, and air, including a section on Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary's summit to Mt. Everest in 1953.
A lot of great history here, as well as laying out the specific problems early explorers faced. Such as,
“At 10,000 feet, the brain loses 10 percent of the oxygen it needs for thinking. At 18,000 feet, 50 percent is lost, and moving becomes difficult. Above 26,000 feet, 70 percent is lost and it is hard to sleep, drink, or eat. Yet Everest stands a towering 29,028 feet above sea level. No one knew for sure whether it was even possible to survive that high.”
And were you ever curious of what Hillary's last meal was prior to summiting? Well, turns it was a breakfast of sardines on biscuit, and lemon juice sweetened with sugar.
What I love about this book is the adventure-journal feel of it. Each adventure it explores comes with foldouts of maps, equipment identifiers, and other cool things. The whole book feels like a set of exploration field notes.
Life Lesson(s): Hmmm…perhaps that sardines are good for something? Just kidding. I think the biggest lesson from this small literary exploration of Hillary's successful summit is that it takes a team to accomplish the great. Even though Hillary and Norgay were the first to summit Everest, they really only were able to because they benefited from so many others' failed attempts and learned from those mistakes.
Everest for Kids Book #6: Edmund Hillary Reaches the Top of Everest, Nelson Yomtov
What I like about this book is it sets the scene for the first summiting of Mt. Everest through comics, meaning there is a lot of everyday dialogue that makes the whole thing more real.
Life Lesson(s): I like the way the characters emphasize safety above glory in this book. I think that's a strong message.
Everest for Kids Book #7: Conquering Everest, Natalie Hyde
If you're looking for a fun, visually-satisfying, factual account all about Mt. Everest for your child to dive into, then this is a good book. There's a nice section digging a little more deeply into Sherpa culture than some of the other books. I also really dig the historical photographs throughout.
Life Lesson(s): This one is not so much a “life lesson” type of book. Still, what I like about it is the section at the end updates how things have changed since 1953 when Everest first successfully summited, showing how progress can be a really good thing.
Everest for Kids Book #8: Summiting Everest, Emma Carlson Berne
Chronicling Hillary and Norgay's expedition is nothing new (you've read of several other books that do this above). But what I love about this book's approach is they show actual photographs, (mostly) in color, of that expedition. So it really brings the whole thing to life.
Life Lesson(s): This book shares a lot of thoughts from Hillary as he makes his summit, starting from Kathmandu, all the way up. So it's interesting to see his own doubts, but being able to push through them for the ultimate glory beyond.
Everest for Kids Book #9: The Worst-Case Scenario Everest, Bill Doyle and David Borgenicht
After months of researching Everest expeditions both old and new, I can say that this book is extremely true to the subtle (and not-so-subtle) nuances of climbing Everest. Your child gets to read through an adventure story that is made up of snippets from real expeditions, then make decisions at different points to determine their ultimate fate on this Everest expedition.
They'll make choices between things like taking a much-needed nap in Camp II versus taking a walk with a Sherpa to get to know them better + acclimatize at the same time, whether or not to eat an apple pie near the Namche Bazaar, and whether or not to lean into the climbing rope on a ladder when you think it's going to knock you off balance.
I also dig that the illustrator used to work for Marvel Comics, and you can definitely feel that vibe throughout. Finally, there's some really great information for your child to absorb in the back files before they take on this mission.
Life Lesson(s): Your choices have consequences. So think through your decisions carefully.
Everest for Kids Book #10: Peak, Roland Smith
This is a novel. Peak, 14-year-old son to two “rock rats”, gets into major trouble after he's caught climbing the Woolworth Building in New York. It's actually not the first time he's climbed a skyscraper in secret.
His real father, whom hasn't been in his life at all, comes from his Thailand to take Peak to live with him for awhile in order to (legally) avoid juvenile detention. Turns out, Joshua (his father) leads expeditions to Mt. Everest, and so he takes his son on one. Though his son quickly finds out that his father has plans to get the youngest person ever — Peak — to summit, then put the news story out so that his new expedition climbing company will gather fame and bring in money.
Life Lesson(s): The main character learns many life lessons along his journey, such as being faced with the truth that many others in the world are much less well-off than he is, as well as the value of friendships and people over blind ambition.
Everest for Kids Book #11: No Summit Out of Sight, Jordan Romero
Jordan is an extraordinary kid. Son to two adventure-buffs, he becomes inspired to climb the 7 summits (actually, 8 summits) in the fourth grade after passing by a school mural his entire third grade year. Talk about the power of things like school bulletin boards!
His parents fully take on his challenge, helping him financially (plus sponsors), mentally, physically, and emotionally along the way. He learns so much about himself, and feels he fully becomes a young man on the mountains. Jordan sets lots of world records, including the youngest person to ever climb Everest (from the less popular North side, at that) at age 13.
Life Lesson(s): There are many life lessons in this book. What I like about it is Jordan keeps things real. He talks about his goal, and his passion oozes off the page. But he also talks about his doubts, his fears, and how he had a lot of people helping him to pull this off. So many life lessons in this one!
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