Houghton Mifflin Social Studies

California Studies

Unit 2 Bibliography: Exploration and Colonization

The books listed below may be available through publishers, distributors such as bookstores or online retailers, or library systems.

Books for Independent Reading

Extra Support

To Fly with the Swallows
by Dana De Ruiz and Debbie Heller
Raintree, 1993
This is a biography of Maria de Arguello y Morago, who became California's first native-born nun and whose life spanned the period from Spanish rule to American statehood.

The California Missions
by Valerie Weber and Dale Anderson
Gareth Stevens, 2002
The arrival of the Spanish in early California led to the construction of missions to support their claim to the land.

Juan Bautista de Anza
by John Bankston
Mitchell Lane, 2003
Explorer Juan Bautista de Anza established a land route between Mexico and California.

On Level

Anita of Rancho del Mar
by Elaine O'Brien
Fithian, 1991
Set in what is now Ventura County, this popular novel recounts the adventures of Anita and her family on their rancho in the 1830s and details the history and customs of the times.

Missions of the Los Angeles Area
by Dianne MacMillan
Lerner, 1996
The missions of San Gabriel Arcángel, San Fernando Rey de España, and San Buenaventura are featured.

Missions of the Inland Valleys
by Pauline Brower
Lerner, 1996
The author explores the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, San Miguel Arcángel, San Antonio de Padua, and Nuestra Señora de la Soledad missions.


Father Junipero Serra: Founder of California Missions
by Donna Genet
Enslow, 1996
Genet explores the life and contributions of one of the most influential people in California's early history.

Valley of the Moon: The Diary of María Rosalia de Milagros, Sonoma Valley, Alta California, 1848
by Sherry Garland
Scholastic, 2001
In this story set during the final months of Mexican rule, María, a servant to a wealthy Spanish family, wonders what will happen to her beloved Alta California if the Americans come.

by Scott O'Dell
Houghton Mifflin, 1977
This account is based on the true story of Luisa Montero, a young girl who participates in the Battle of San Pasqual.

Read Aloud and Reference

Read Aloud Books

Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O'Dell
Houghton Mifflin, 1960
In this award-winning novel, the Indian girl Karana is left alone on an island for 10 years. Available in Spanish as Isla de delfines azules.

by Scott O'Dell
Houghton Mifflin, 1976
In this sequel to Island of the Blue Dolphins, Zia makes her home at the California mission of Santa Barbara but longs to see her Aunt Karana. Available in Spanish as Zia.

Reference Books

Gaspar de Portola
by Jim Whiting
Mitchell Lane, 2002
The author examines the life of the seventeenth-century explorer and first governor of California.

Craftsmen and Craftswomen of the California Missions Frontier
by Jack Williams
PowerKids, 2003
This book explains the crafts and activities of the artisans who came to live in early California.

The California People
by Linda Thompson
Rourke, 2003
Thompson devotes sections of this book to the history, customs, beliefs, and day-to-day lives of the early peoples of California.

Free and Inexpensive Materials

The Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., SE
Washington, D.C. 20540
Phone: (202) 707-5000

The Library of Congress
The library's website includes the “California History Collection,” which contains information about the exploration and colonization of California. The library's website also has a feature that allows you to ask questions of a Library of Congress librarian.