Books for Independent Reading


Bill Pickett: Rodeo Ridin' Cowboy
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Harcourt 1996 (32p)
In 1881, ten-year-old Bill Pickett invented bulldogging, a form of steer-wrestling that helped make him one of the most famous cowboys on the rodeo circuit.
Wagons West
by Roy Gerrard
(Social Studies)
Farrar 1996 (32p)
The westward trip to Oregon by a group of farmers is breezily recalled in rhyme years later by a young woman who went on the journey as a child.
Sod Houses on the Great Plains
by Glen Rounds
(Social Studies)
Holiday 1995 (32p)
The author, who was born in a sod house in South Dakota, explains how the first homesteaders across the Missouri River built sod houses from the only material available to them.
Pioneer Cat
by William Hooks
(Social Studies)
Random 1988 (64p) paper
A young girl traveling west on the Oregon Trail with her family discovers a stowaway cat and her kittens, who keep her company on the long trip.


newMississippi Mud: The Prairie Journals
by Ann Turner
Harper 1997 (48p)
Amanda and her two brothers each keep a journal as their family travels by wagon train from Kentucky to Oregon, and each sees the trip in a different way.
newA Fourth of July on the Plains
by Jean Van Leeuwen
Dial 1997 (32p)
Based on Jesse A. Applegate's Recollections of My Boyhood and the Diary of E. W. Conyers, this story relates how young Jesse and his family celebrated the Fourth of July on the plains, despite the hardships of traveling the Oregon Trail.
newA Pony for Jeremiah
by Robert H. Miller
Silver 1997 (64p)
When Jeremiah and his family escape from slavery and end up in Nebraska, Jeremiah and a Cheyenne boy name Blue Feather become friends.
newHow We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark
by Rosalyn Schanzer
National Geographic 1997 (48p)
Lively art illustrates direct quotations from the journals of Lewis and Clark detailing their arduous 7,689-mile journey across America.
The Sweetwater Run: The Story of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Pony Express
by Andrew Glass
(Social Studies)
Doubleday 1996 (48p)
In 1861, fourteen-year-old Will Cody carries the news that Abraham Lincoln has been elected president.
Pony Express!
by Steven Kroll
(Social Studies)
Scholastic 1996 (40p)
When gold was discovered in California, William H. Russell created the pony express to bring mail from home to the thousands who flocked west in search of gold.
West by Covered Wagon: Retracing the Pioneer Trails
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
(Social Studies)
Walker 1995 (32p)
Each year the Montana Wagoneers, a pioneer-reenactment society, celebrate Memorial Day with a week-end wagon train journey that duplicates as near as possible the journeys of earlier pioneers.
by Eve Bunting
(Social Studies)
Harcourt 1995 (48p)
In the 1800s, Zoe and her family journey to the Nebraska Territory, where they build a soddie that can't be seen from a distance until Zoe plants dandelions on top.


newMy Name Is York
by Elizabeth Van Steenwyck
Northland 1997 (32p)
newA Right Fine Line: Kit Carson on the Santa Fe Trail
by Andrew Glass
Holiday 1997 (48p)
Despite his parents' plans for his future, sixteen-year-old Kit Carson ran off to join a wagon train heading over the Santa Fe Trail and to a life of adventure that would make him famous.
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell, 1847
by Kristiana Gregory
(Social Studies)
Scholastic 1997 (128p)
A young pioneer girl relates her family's experiences during their rigorous journey west.
by David W. Toht
(Social Studies)
Lerner 1996 (48p)
The hardshihps and good times of pioneer life are expressed in this collection of diary excerpts, songs, games, recipes, and medicinal remedies.
The Santa Fe Trail
by David Lavender
(Social Studies)
Holiday 1995 (64p)
From 1822 to 1879, traders made the dangerous journey along the Santa Fe Trail to take supplies to the pioneers and bring home silver coins and furs.
Buffalo Gals: Women of the Old West
by Brandon Marie Miller
(Social Studies)
Lerner 1995 (88p)
Authentic entries from their diaries help convey the difficult life faced by the hundreds of women who traveled west on the Oregon Trail.
Children of the Westward Trail
by Rebecca Stefoff
(Social Studies)
Millbrook 1996 (96p)
From actual journals and letters of pioneer children, the reader learns what the journey westward was like during the 1840s and '50s.
Bent's Fort: Crossroads of Cultures on the Santa Fe Trail
by Melvin Bacon and Daniel Blegen
Millbrook 1995 (72p)
Bent's Fort re-creates the history of the Santa Fe Trail, with emphasis on the Native American and Mexican cultures and how people of various cultures were brought together on the trail and at the trading post.


Westward Ho! An Activity Guide to the Wild West
by Laurie Carlson
(Social Studies)
Chicago Review 1996 (149p)
The crafts, recipes, songs, and games included in this activity guide will give students a glimpse of the daily life of the pioneers heading west.
Black Frontiers: A History of African American Heroes in the Old West
by Lillian Schlissel
Simon 1995 (78p)
The author focuses on the African Americans who went west as soldiers, homesteaders, and mountain men, with biographical sketches of Jim Beckwourth, Stagecoach Mary, Bill Pickett, Biddy Mason , and others.
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple
by Karen Cushman
Clarion 1996 (208p)
When her mother moves the family to a California mining town called Lucky Diggins, Lucy, forced to help her mother run a boarding house, is miserable and tries to find comfort in books and letters while planning how to get back to Massachusetts.
The West: An Illustrated History for Children
by Dayton Duncan
(Social Studies)
Little 1996 (144p)
A companion volume to the PBS documentary, this book offers a clear history of the west, along with personal stories of many of its inhabitants. In the same series, see also People of the West and The Gold Rush.
The Life and Death of Crazy Horse
by Russell Freedman
Holiday 1996 (144p)
Called the greatest of the Teton Sioiux warriors, Chief Crazy Horse grew from a shy, sensitive youth to a warrior who tried desperately to save his people's land and way of life and eventually defeated General Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Black Women of the Old West
by William Loren Katz
Atheneum 1995 (84p)
As the text and archival photographs show, African American women were a part of Western frontier life in a number of capacities from homesteaders, cooks and nurses, to cowgirls, schoolteachers, and shopkeepers.

Now Available in Paperback

newAn American Safari: Adventures on the North American Prairie
by Jim Brandenburg
newBess's Log Cabin Quilt
by D. Anne Love
newBound for Oregon
by Jean Van Leeuwen
My Prairie Year: Based on the Diary of Elenore Plaisted
by Brett Harvey
If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon
by Ellen Levine
The Bite of the Gold Bug: A Story of the American Gold Rush
by Barthe DeClements
Snowshoe Thompson
by Nancy Levinson
The Incredible Journey of Lewis and Clark
by Rhoda Blumberg
On to Oregon!
by Honoré
Caddie Woodlawn
by Carol Ryrie Brink

Now Out of Print

The Great American Gold Rush
by Rhoda Blumberg
Townsend's Warbler
by Paul Fleischman
George Caitlin: Painter of the Indian West
by Mark Sufrin