This Land Is Your Land
Here is a sampling of fiction depicting frontier life in America, primarily covering the period between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The list is subdivided by reading level. Please remember that these grade levels are only approximations and are not intended to limit the reader. Unless otherwise noted, books are arranged on the shelves by the author’s last name in the sections below.
A = Title available on audiobook
P= Title available on Playaway
J FICTION (Grades 2-3)
Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting
Marianne travels West on the Orphan Train with other orphans looking for homes and finds an unexpected surprise at the last stop. 32 pgs.
Cassie’s Journey by Brett Harvey
A young girl relates the hardships and dangers of traveling with her family in a covered wagon from Illinois to California in the 1860’s. 39 pgs.
Pioneer Cat by William H. Hooks
When a young pioneer girl smuggles a cat aboard the wagon train taking her family from Missouri to Oregon, it turns out to be the best thing she could have done. 62 pgs.
The Chickenhouse House by Ellen Howard
When Alena and her family move onto new farmland out on the prairie, they must live at first in the chicken house because there is no time to build a house before winter. 52 pgs.
The Wind Wagon by Celia Barker Lottridge
Sam Peppard, a blacksmith in 1860’s Kansas, builds a prairie schooner that sails to Denver, Colorado, powered by wind. 56 pgs.
Little Obie and the Kidnap by Martin Waddell
When the old wild woman Mrs. Jumping Joseph adopts two orphans, Little Obie and his family come up with a plan to rescue them. 79 pgs.
Grandma Essie’s Covered Wagon by David Williams
Grandma Essie describes how her family left Missouri by covered wagon looking for a better life and lived in Kansas and Oklahoma before returning to Missouri.
J FICTION (Grades 3-6)
Black-Eyed Susan by Jennifer Armstrong
Ten-year-old Susie and her father love living on the South Dakota prairie, but Susie’s mother greatly misses their old life in Ohio. 120 pgs.
Bluestem by Frances Arrington
With their father away and their mother traumatized by some unknown event, eleven-year-old Polly and her younger sister are left to take care of themselves and their prairie homestead. 140 pgs.
Journey to Nowhere by Mary Jane Auch
While traveling in a covered wagon to the wilderness of western New York, 11-year-old Mem experiences a flood and separation from her family. 202 pgs.
The Barn by Avi A
In this novel set in Oregon in 1855, three motherless children try to run the family farm after their father becomes sick. 106 pgs.
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink A
The adventures of an 11-year-old tomboy growing up on the Wisconsin frontier in the mid-nineteenth century. 275 pgs.
Prairie Songs by Pam Conrad
Louisa’s life in a loving pioneer family on the Nebraska prairie is altered by the arrival of a new doctor and his beautiful, tragically frail wife. 167 pgs.
West Along the Wagon Road by Laurie Lawlor
Everyone on the wagon train knew Harriet Scott was looking for adventure as they left Illinois for Oregon Territory, but nothing could have prepared the Scott family for the dangers they would meet. 182 pgs.
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan A P
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. 58 pgs. (Also look for the sequels)
Rachel’s Journal by Marissa Moss
In her journal, Rachel chronicles her family’s journey traveling by covered wagon on the Oregon Trail in 1850.
In the Face of Danger by Joan Lowery Nixon
Deeply unhappy about her family’s separation because of poverty, Megan gradually finds contentment in her new home on the Kansas prairie. 151 pgs. (Look for more titles in the Orphan Train series.)
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie series) J LIT A
A family travels from the big woods of Wisconsin to a new home on the prairie, where they build a house, meet neighboring Indians, and fight a prairie fire. 335 pgs.
Dear Levi by Elvira Woodruff
Twelve-year-old Austin Ives writes letters to his younger brother describing his 3,000 mile journey over the Oregon Trail in 1851. 119 pgs. (Also look for the sequel: Dear Austin: Letters from the Underground Railroad.)
JH FICTION (Grades 6-8)
The Journal of Jesse Smoke : A Cherokee BoyJH DEA
by Joseph Bruchac (Dear Americ. My Name is America series)
In his journal, sixteen-year-old Jesse records the hardships of the journey that his Cherokee people endure along the Trail of Tears in 1837. 203 pgs.
The Snowbird by Patricia Calvert
Following the murder of her parents, Willanna faces an uncertain future as she and her younger brother move from Tennessee to the Dakota Territory. 146 pgs.
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich A
Seven-year-old Omakayas, a member of the Ojibwa tribe, lives on an island in Lake Superior in 1847. Life there follows a gentle pattern until a visitor comes to their lodge one winter night. 244 pgs.
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie
by Kristiana Gregorry (Dear America series) JH DEA A
In her diary, 13-year-old Hattie chronicles her family’s difficult journey from Missouri to Oregon in 1847.
Willow Chase: Kansas Territory 1847 by Kathleen Duey
In 1847, on a difficult journey to California, Willow is swept overboard fording the South Platte River and must survive and search for her family. 141 pgs.
The Journey Home by Isabelle Holland
Two orphaned sisters start life anew in the second half of the nineteenth century when they are adopted by a couple in Kansas. 212 pgs.
The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr
In 1860, a somewhat simple-minded 15-year-old boy attempts to herd one thousand turkeys from Missouri to Denver, Colorado, in hopes of selling them at a profit. 199 pgs.
Worth by A. LaFaye A
Eleven-year-old Nate feels useless after his broken leg prevents him from helping on their Nebraska farm, and he feels even worse when his father brings home an orphan boy to help with the chores. 144 pgs.
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson A
Against the backdrop of WW I, 16-year-old orphan Hattie travels from Iowa to Montana to take up her uncle’s homesteading claim. 289 pgs.
Orphan Journey Home by Liza Ketchum
In 1828, while traveling from Illinois to Kentucky, twelve-year-old Jesse and her brothers and sister lose their parents to milk sickness and try to finish the dangerous journey by themselves. 162 pgs.
Save Queen of Sheba by Louise Moeri
After surviving an Indian raid on the trail to Oregon, a brother and sister set out with few provisions to find the rest of the settlers. 116 pgs.
Black Storm Comin’ by Diane Lee Wilson
In 1860, Colton is left to care for his mixed-race family after his father abandons their California-bound wagon train, and he joins the Pony Express in order to deliver some important documents. 295 pgs.