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Little Read

While adults and teens read True Grit and participate in discussions about this novel of the Old West, children may participate in the Little Read. The Little Read for 2014 will include book discussion kits of books that follow an aspect of the theme of True Grit. Each kit includes 12 books, book discussion questions, and activities. These items are available to the branch libraries for children's programs in conjunction with the adult Big Read.

They will be available to the general public for check out through the library catalog this summer. Check the online library calendar or contact your hometown library for Little Read programs in your area.

Wagon WheelsWagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner

After the civil war, the Muldie boys and their father travel a long way to settle in the black community of Nicodemus, Kansas. Not satisfied with the land of Kansas, Daddy moves on to find a better place to farm. The three boys care for each other until their father sends for them when they make a dangerous journey to reunite with their father.

Saving SweetnessSaving Sweetness by Diane Stanley

When Sweetness, the littlest orphan in mean old Mrs. Sump's home, runs away, the kindhearted sheriff sets off to find her. After all, poor, tiny Sweetness might meet up with Coyote Pete, the meanest, ugliest desperado in the West, so someone's got to save her. But Sweetness sure doesn't want to be saved if it means returning to Mrs.Sump's. And when Sweetness keeps refusing to stay saved, the sheriff finally realizes there's only one thing left to do.


Jim UglyJim Ugly by Sid Fleishman

Twelve-year-old Jake is thrown into an uneasy alliance with proud, one-man dog, Jim Ugly, when the dog's owner, Jake's father, suddenly disappears. Confident that Jim Ugly can pick up Jake's father's trail, boy and dog set out on the adventure of their lives.


Here are just a few children's non-fiction books from this same time period:

Kids in Pioneer Times by Lisa A. Wroble

Going West across North America in a covered wagon must have been as scary and exciting then as space travel would be today. Many kids joined their folks on that grand adventure. Here's history through their perspective. Discusses the lives of two children whose family settled on the frontier in what is now South Dakota, describing their home, clothes, food, and daily activities.


Growing Up in Pioneer America, 1800 to 1890 by Judith Pinkerton Josephson

Look at life through the eyes of children who lived during different eras of American history... Experience the thrill of landing in the New World for the first time and the terror of dodging bullets during the American Revolution. Journey to the American West in the back of a covered wagon and discover the horrors of the Civil War. From the technological advances of the early twentieth century to the despair of the Great Depression to the sacrifice of World War II, explore each tumultuous time.


Birchbark Brigade: A Fur Trade History by Cris Peterson

A history of the North American fur trade, based on primary sources . The North American fur trade, set in motion by the discovery of the New World in the fifteenth century, was this continent's biggest business for over three hundred years. Furs harvested by Ojibwa natives in the north woods ended up on the sleeves and hems of French princesses and Chinese emperors. Felt hats on the heads of every European businessman began as beaver pelts carried in birchbark canoes to trading posts dotting the wilderness. Iron tools, woolen blankets, and calico cloth manufactured in England found their way to wigwams along the remote rivers of North America. The fur trade influenced every aspect of life--from how Europeans related to the Indians, how and where settlements were built, to how our nation formed.


Here is a sampling of children's historical fiction books about pioneer times:

Year of the Black Pony by Walt Morey

The Fellows family has joined numerous others striving to make a go of homesteading in the Oregon high desert. But the venture has been disastrous from the start. Mr. Fellows, who is not a farmer, resents any advice from his wife, who grew up on a farm. Ma is not only troubled about the farming, but 7-year-old Ellie's chronic illness has become a source of constant worry and expense. 12-year-old Chris, who cannot seem to please his father no matter what he does, eases his own misery by stealing time away from work to watch a neighbor's scarcely broken black pony, only to get into more trouble. When it seems circumstances could not get worse for the struggling family, Fellows gets drunk and dies. Not willing to give up, Ma stubbornly and creatively seeks a way for the family to stay in Oregon. Frank Chase, an unintentional element in the death of Chris's father, is added to the mix and challenged by Ma to keep his word to help the family. The resultant dramatic and sometimes humorous contest of wills comes to a satisfying culmination when, after Frank's purchase of the wild black pony for Chris, Ma is reluctantly forced to once again use her backbone of steel for the good of all.


Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

A family travels from the big woods of Wisconsin to a new home on the prairie, where they build a house, meet neighboring Indians, build a well, and fight a prairie fire.


Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice

Alone in the frontier wilderness in the winter of 1839 while his father is recovering from an injury, eleven-year-old Nathan runs afoul of the renegade killer known as Weasel and makes a surprising discovery about the concept of revenge.


Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLahlan

"Did Mama sing every day?"Caleb asks his sister Anna."Every-single-day," she answers."Papa sang, too." Their mother died the day after Caleb was born. Their house on the prairie is quiet now, and Papa doesn't sing anymore. Then Papa puts an ad in the paper, asking for a wife, and he receives a letter from one Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton, of Maine. Papa, Anna, and Caleb write back. Caleb asks if she sings. Sarah decides to come for a month. She writes Papa: I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall, and Tell them I sing. Anna and Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she like them? Will she stay?


Next Spring an Oriole by Gloria Whelan

In 1837 ten-year-old Libby and her parents journey by covered wagon to the Michigan frontier, where they make themselves a new home near friendly Indians and other pioneers. "Historical fiction at an easy level is hard to find, and this pioneer story, narrated by 10-year-old Libby Mitchell on her journey from Virginia to Michigan in 1837, is smoothly written and appealing. The wagon trail is not easy, and Whelan is careful to include a taste of the hardships. She's also careful in her presentation of the Potawatomi Indians, who figure in the story when the Mitchells nurse one of their own children back to health. The story, though brief, is well developed."--Bulletin, Center for Children's Books. 


Cowboys on the Western Trail: The Cattle Drive Adventures of Joshua McNab and Davy Bartlett by Eric F. Oatman

The young son of a white ranch owner and a young African-American wrangler become friends on a three-month, 900-mile cattle drive in 1877. Their adventures teach youngsters about the important historical events of the late 1800s. Recounts events of an 1877 cattle drive from southern Texas to Ogallala, Nebraska, through the letters and journals of two boys and an older member of the crew, a "combination of rich factual background and fictional story."


Black-Eyed Susan by Jennifer Armstrong

Ten-year-old Susie and her father love living on the South Dakota prairie with its vast, uninterrupted views of land and sky, but Susie's mother greatly misses their old life in Ohio. Awed and oppressed by the vast prairie, Susie's mother hasn't set foot outside the sod house in months. On a trip into town to file a claim for additional property, Susie scours the Mercantile for a treat to cheer Mama. But it will take the contagious optimism and confidence of a migrating Icelandic family to jolt Mama from her brooding and cajole her to embrace the prairie with her daughter's fresh enthusiasm.


The Gentleman Outlaw and Me--Eli: A Story of the Old West by Mary Downing Hahn

In 1887 twelve-year-old Eliza, disguised as a boy and traveling towards Colorado in search of her missing father, falls in with a Gentleman Outlaw and joins him in his illegal schemes.


Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen

Fourteen-year-old Francis Tucket is heading west on the Oregon Trail with his family by wagon train. When he receives a rifle for his birthday, he is thrilled that he is being treated like an adult. But Francis lags behind to practice shooting and is captured by Pawnees. It will take wild horses, hostile tribes, and a mysterious one-armed mountain man named Mr. Grimes to help Francis become the man who will be called Mr. Tucket.

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