Robinson Crusoe Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

There are many different types of adventure stories. Some find people exploring jungles, climbing mountains, or flying around the world. In this lesson, you will learn about Robinson Crusoe and the adventures of a man living on a deserted island.


Have you ever wanted to be alone? Perhaps you've considered living on a deserted island? One novel explores what it would be like for someone to live on a deserted island for a really long time.

Daniel Defoe wrote the novel The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe in 1719. Although this is the title the book is known by, the real title is much longer:

The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates

Title page
title page

Try saying that 10 times fast!

Robinson Crusoe follows the adventures of the imaginary character Robinson Crusoe. This realistic fiction novel is written as though Crusoe were telling you about his journeys during the late 1600s. The real-life details of the story, and listing that the story was written by Crusoe ('himself'), made many people question if it was actually true.

Drawing of Robinson Crusoe

Although the novel is fiction, some people think Defoe based it on the true story of Alexander Selkirk who asked to be dropped on a deserted island in the 1700s and remained there for 5 years.

What happened to this adventurer? Let's find out.


Have you ever ignored your parents' directions? You may have been punished, but Robinson Crusoe got shipwrecked!

In the novel, Robinson Crusoe left England to make money in Africa after his father told him not to. After a series of events, he spent two years as a slave until he was rescued by Portuguese sailors. These sailors took Crusoe to Brazil where he learned to grow tobacco and sugar and bought a plantation.

When he decided to take a trip to Africa, Robinson Crusoe's ship was hit by a storm, and he ended up on a deserted island near Trinidad. Beginning at age 27, Crusoe spent more than 28 years on the island. During that time, he experienced many hardships including:

  • becoming ill with a malaria-like disease
  • getting food and water
  • making a shelter
  • an earthquake
  • a tsunami
  • cannibals

Crusoe learned to live on the island; however, the discovery of cannibals led Crusoe to save the life of a man, Friday, who had escaped from the group.

Robinson Crusoe and Friday

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