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Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859 by Avi

Grades 4-6 (229 pages)

I Witness series

Young Early Wittcomb tries to help get money needed to pay the mortgage on the family farm by following his uncle into the Colorado Rockies to look for gold.


The Journal of Jesse Smoke: A Cherokee Boy by Joseph Bruchac

Grades 5-7 (203 pages)

My Name is America series

Jesse Smoke, a sixteen-year-old Cherokee, begins a journal in 1837 to record stories of his people and their difficulties as they face removal along the Trail of Tears.


The Misadventures of Maude March: Or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse by Audrey Couloumbis

Grades 5-8 (295 pages) Audiobook available

Sequel: Maude March on the Run! Or Trouble is her Middle Name

After the death of the stern aunt who raised them since they were orphaned, eleven-year-old Sallie and her fifteen-year-old sister escape their self-serving guardians and begin an adventure resembling those in the dime novels Sallie loves to read.


The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman

Grades 5-8 (195 pages)

In 1849, twelve-year-old California Morning Whipple, who renames herself Lucy, is distraught when her mother moves the family from Massachusetts to a rough California mining town.


Much Ado About Grubstake by Jean Ferris

Grades 5-8 (265 pages)

When two city folks arrive in the depressed mining town of Grubstake, Colorado in 1888, sixteen-year-old orphaned Arley tries to discover why they want to buy the supposedly worthless mines in the area


By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman

Grades 4-6 (193 pages) Audiobook available

Jack Flagg, an orphan, runs away from home accompanied by the butler, Praiseworthy, and becomes involved in the Gold Rush of 1849.


Jim Ugly by Sid Fleischman

Grades 4-7 (130 pages)

The adventures are told of twelve-year-old Jake and Jim Ugly, his father’s part-mongrel, part-wolf dog, as they travel through the Old West trying to find out what really happened to Jake’s actor father.


Seeds of Hope: The Gold Rush Diary of Susanna Fairchild by Kristiana Gregory

Grades 5-8 (186 pages)

Dear America series

This is a diary account of fourteen-year-old Susanna Fairchild’s life in 1849, when her father succumbs to gold fever on the way to establish his medical practice in Oregon after losing his wife and money on their steamship journey from New York.  Includes a historical note.


Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

Shelved in Children’s Graphic Novels “H”

Grades 5-8 (144 pages)

Rapunzel, having grown up in a lovely castle with the woman she thought was her mother, is placed in a very tall hollow tree as punishment after her curiosity prompts her to climb the castle wall and look at the ruin of the world beyond her home, but she is able to escape and with the help of her friend Jack, embarks on a plan to free the land from the grip of a witch.


Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones  by Helen Hemphill

Grades 6-9 (228 pages)

Thirteen-year-old Prometheus Jones and his eleven-year-old cousin Omer flee Tennessee and join a cattle drive that will eventually take them to Texas, where Prometheus hopes his father lives.  They end up finding adventure and facing challenges as African Americans in a land still recovering from the Civil War.


The Last Cowboys: In Which Roo Searches for her Lost Grandfather, a Dog of Some Renown

by Harry Horse

Grades 3-5 (111 pages)

In a series of letters to his grandson, an elderly gentleman relates how he and his remarkable little dog traveled to America on an expedition to the Wild West to find the dog’s grandfather, rumored to be living among cowboys following a successful movie career.


Hoofbeats of Danger by Holly Hughes

Grades 4-6 (130 pages)

History Mysteries series

In 1860, eleven-year-old Annie, who lives at the Red Buttes Pony Express station in the Nebraska Territory, asks Pony Express rider Billy Cody to help her find the person responsible for sabotaging her favorite pony Magpie.


The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr

Grades 4-7 (199 pages)

In 1860, a somewhat simple-minded fifteen-year-old boy attempts to herd one thousand turkeys from Missouri to Denver, Colorado, in hopes of selling them at a profit.


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Grades 7-9 (289 pages)

After inheriting her uncle’s homesteading claim in Montana, sixteen-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.


Alice Rose & Sam by Kathryn Lasky

Grades 5-8 (252 pages)

Alice Rose, an irrepressible twelve-year-old, shares adventures with Mark Twain, an outlandish reporter on her father’s newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada, during the 1860s.


Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Shelved in Children’s Moving Up

Sequel: Skylark

Grades 3-5 (58 pages) Audiobook available

When their father invites a mail-order bride to come live with them in their prairie home, Caleb and Anna are captivated by their new mother and hope that she will stay.


Stop the Train! by Geraldine McCaughrean

Grades 5-8 (289 pages)

Despite the opposition of the owner of the Red Rock Runner railroad in 1893, the new settlers of Florence, Oklahoma, are determined to build a real town.


Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Grades 5-8 (247 pages)

A pioneer boy, brought up by Crow Indians, is reunited with his family and attempts to orient himself in the white man’s culture.


The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner by Walter Dean Myers

Grades 5-8 (140 pages)

Fifteen-year-old Artemis journeys from New York City to Tombstone, Arizona, in 1882, to avenge the murder of his uncle.


The Legend of Bass Reeves: Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in the West by Gary Paulsen

Grades 6-9 (137 pages)

An account of the life of Bass Reeves who was born a slave and later became one of the most respected federal marshals in Oklahoma and Texas.


The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy by Jon Scieszka

Shelved in Children’s Moving Up

Grades 3-5 (70 pages) Time Warp Trio series

The Time Warp Trio find themselves in the Wild West of yesteryear, rubbing elbows with cowboys and Indians.


Tales from Gizzard’s Grill by Jeanne Steig

Grades 4-6 (72 pages)

Three tall tales from the Old West town of Fiasco are presented.  The lady sheriff keeps the peace and friends, old and new, enjoy the treats of Gizzard’s Grill.




Wild West Stories for Younger Readers


Sam’s Wild West Show by Nancy Antle

Grades 1-2 (40 pages) JE Antle

Sam and his Wild West Show entertain the townsfolk and catch two bank robbers before moving on to the next town.


The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog by John Erickson

Grades 2-4 (127 pages) Hank the Cowdog series

Shelved in Paperbacks “B”

Hank the Cowdog, Head of Ranch Security, is framed for the murder of a chicken and becomes an outlaw with the coyotes.


Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner

Grades 1-2 (64 pages) JE Brenner

Shortly after the Civil War a black family travels to Kansas to take advantage of the free land offered through the Homestead Act.


Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett

Grades 1-3 — JPB “B”

A curious young armadillo finds himself at a rodeo after accidently wandering away from his mother.


The Golly Sisters Go West by Betsy Byars

Grades 1-2 (64 pages) JE Byars

Sequel: The Golly Sisters Ride Again

May-May and Rose, the singing, dancing Golly sisters, travel west by covered wagon, entertaining people along the way.


Tumbleweed Stew by Susan Crummel

Grades K-2 — JE Crummel

Jack Rabbit tricks the other animals into helping him make a pot of tumbleweed stew.


Lasso Lou and Cowboy McCoy by Barbara Failing

Grades 1-3 — JPB “F”

McCoy buys himself a cowboy hat, which leads to a series of misadventures at the Bo-Dee-Oh Ranch.


Buffalo Music by Tracey Fern

Grades 2-4 — JPB “F”

After hunters kill off the buffalo around her Texas ranch, a woman begins raising orphan buffalo calves and eventually ships four members of her small herd to Yellowstone National Park, where they form the beginnings of newly thriving buffalo herds.  It is based on a true story.


Buster Goes to Cowboy Camp by Denise Fleming

Grades K-2 — JPB “F”

When Buster the dog’s owner goes away for a few days he sends Buster to Sagebrush Kennels for a Cowboy Camp where Buster is homesick at first, but then has fun herding balls into the corral, gathering sticks for a campfire, and making wanted posters with his paw prints.


The Toughest Cowboy or How the Wild West was Tamed by John Frank

Shelved in Children’s Moving Up

Grades 2-4

The story of how a group of rough, uncouth cowboys have their lives turned completely upside down when one of them decides to get a dog, who turns out to be a French poodle named Foofy.


The Sweetwater Run: The Story of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Pony Express by Andrew Glass

Shelved in Children’s Moving Up

Grades 2-4

Buffalo Bill Cody recounts his adventures as a teenaged rider for the Pony Express.  Includes a history of the Pony Express and facts about Cody’s life.


The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble

Grades 1-3 — JPB “G”

Though she is fond of her people, a girl prefers to live among the wild horses where she is truly happy and free.


Bronco Busters by Alison Cragin Herzig

Grades 1-3 — JPB “H”

Three rough, tough bronco busters can’t tame a little black pony, but a small, quiet cowboy talks to him and brings him water, and then quietly rides away with him.


Tenth Avenue Cowboy by Linda Oatman High

Shelved in Children’s Moving Up

Grades 2-4

In 1910, when his family moves to New York City from their ranch out West, Ben misses the cowboys and the prairies that they left behind, but after he learns that there are cowboys in the city who race along the railroad tracks and warn people of approaching trains, he begins to feel more at home.


Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson

Grades K-3 — JPB “H”

This is the (slightly) true narrative of how a brave pioneer father brought apples, peaches, plums, grapes, and cherries (and children) across the plains.


The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch by Anne Isaacs

Shelved in Children’s Moving Up

Grades 2-4 (45 pages)

During the California Gold Rush of 1848, ten-year-old Estrella faces a group of greedy ghosts who have stolen her exotic pets to work in their gold mine.


Gold Fever by Verla Kay

Grades K-2 — JPB “K”

In this brief rhyming story set during the gold rush, Jasper leaves his family and farm to pursue his dream of finding gold.


Bubba the Cowboy Prince: A Fractured Texas Tale by Helen Ketteman

Grades Pre-K-2 — JPB “K”

Loosely based on “Cinderella,” this story is set in Texas, the fairy godmother is a cow, and the hero, named Bubba, is the stepson of a wicked rancher.


The Great Texas Hamster Drive by Eric A. Kimmel

Grades K-2 — JPB “K”

When Pecos Bill’s daughter gets two pet hamsters, they soon multiply into hundreds, so Bill decided to take them all to Chicago where lots of boys and girls want pet hamsters.


Little Britches and the Rattlers by Eric A. Kimmel

Grades K-2 — JPB “K”

As Little Britches, in her best attire, starts for the rodeo in town, she is waylaid by several rattlesnakes wanting to do her harm, but with some quick thinking she finds a way to outsmart them all..


Boom Town by Sonia Levitin

Grades 1-4 — JPB “L”

After her family moves to California where her father goes to work in the gold fields, Amanda decides to make her own fortune baking pies and she encourages others to provide the necessary services —  from a general store to a school — that enables her town to prosper.


Nine For California by Sonia Levitin

Grades 1-4 — JPB “L”

Amanda travels by stagecoach with her four siblings and her mother from Missouri to California to join her father.


The Cowgirl Aunt of Harriet Bean by Alexander McCall Smith

Shelved in Children’s Moving Up

Grades 2-4 (81 pages) Audiobook available

Harriet Bean series

When she joins Aunt Japonica and Aunt Thessalonika on a trip to America, nine-year-old Harriet meets yet another relative—Aunt Formica, a cowgirl who is having trouble with some clever and mysterious cattle rustlers.


Ridin’ Dinos with Buck Bronco by George McClements

Grades K-2 — JPB “M”

Buck Bronco teaches how to care for and ride a variety of strange dinosaurs.


Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman

Grades K-2— JE Silverman  Audiobook available

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series

Cowgirl Kate and her cowhorse Cocoa, who is always hungry, count cows, share a story, and help each other fall asleep.


Jess and the Stinky Cowboys by Janice Lee Smith

Grades K-2 (48 pages) JE Smith, J.

When a band of stinky cowboys comes to town while the sheriff is away and refuses to bathe, young Deputy Jess and her aunt, Deputy Gussy, must find a way to enforce the No-Stink law.


Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley

Shelved in Children’s Moving Up

Grades 2-4  Sequel: Raising Sweetness

The sheriff of a dusty western town rescues Sweetness, an unusually resourceful orphan, from nasty old Mrs. Sump and her terrible orphanage.


Cowboy Ned and Andy by David Ezra Stein

Grades K-2 — JPB “S”  Audiobook set available

On a cattle drive in the desert on the night before Cowboy Ned’s birthday, his horse Andy goes in search of a birthday cake, which he thinks will make Ned’s birthday complete.


The Wild, Wild West by Geronimo Stilton

Grades 2-4 (67 pages) Children’s Paperbacks “S”

Geronimo Stilton series

Geronimo Stilton finds himself in the Wild West, where he gets into a showdown with an evil rat.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague

Grades K-2— JPB “T”

A schoolboy tells his class about his summer vacation, during which he joined a group of cowboys and stopped a cattle stampede.


The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake

Grades 2-4 — JPB “T”

Telling his faithful dog to make sure nobody touches his clothes but him, a cowboy jumps into a New Mexico river for a bath, not realizing just how much the scrubbing will change his scent.


Comes a Wind by Linda White

Grades 1-3 — JPB “W”

While visiting their mother’s ranch, two brothers who constantly try to best each other swap tall tales about big winds and are surprised by the fiercest wind they have ever seen.


Wild West Bananza by Paul Frank Industries

Grades K-2 — JPB “W”

Julius is bored with being sheriff of Matchy Patch Valley, where no one ever wants to try anything different, until the day Bob decides not to tuck his jeans into his boots and sets off a frenzy of change.


I Want to be a Cowgirl by Jeanne Willis

Grades K-2 — JPB “W”

Speaking in rhyme, a little girl tells her father that she would rather have the active outdoor life of a cowgirl than that of  a girl who stays inside quietly reading, talking or cleaning.


Shelved in Non-Fiction


The Donner Party by Roger Wachtel

J7919.403 Wachtel

The journey of the Donner Party is recounted.  In 1846 they sought to travel from Independence, Missouri, to California but took an untried shortcut that trapped them in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a terrible winter.


Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale by Steven Kellogg

J398.22 Kellogg


The Trail of Tears, 1838 by Laura Purdie Salas

J973.04975 Salas


Rodeo by Roxie Munro

J791.8 Munro

Lift the flaps and learn about rodeo events.


Wild West by Stuart Murray

J978.02 Murray

DK Eyewitness Books series

Brief text and color illustrations chronicle the history of the American West, from the adventures of Lews and Clark to the massacre at Wounded Knee.


Words West: Voices of Young Pioneers by Ginger Wadsworth

J917.8042 Wadsworth


Jesse James: Wild West Train Robber by Elaine Landau

JB James, J


Annie Oakley by Chuck Wills

JB Oakley, A


Down the Colorado by Deborah Kogan Ray

JB Powell, J

Story of the man who led the first scientific expedition down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon.