14 Children's Books About Pioneer Life Because Perseverance Is *In* Right Now
No matter where you are in the world, it feels a bit like we're all suddenly pioneers living in the old west, doesn't it? Perhaps now might be a good time to introduce your kids to some classic children's books about pioneer life. Obviously we are fortunate to have the benefits of modern technology and electricity (with a special shout out to indoor plumbing), but I do feel a bit like the pioneering family of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series as we forge a trail into the unknown. Pioneer skills of perseverance, determination, and making do with what we have are needed in this crisis, and honestly, now is as good a time as any to teach those skills to your kids.
While the uncertainty, fear and anxiousness of this time can be overwhelming, I find myself searching for the positives of each day: my family is together, we are healthy, and spring is finally here. It's the only way I'm holding it together, to be honest. Laura Ingalls Wilder, in all her pioneer wisdom, once said, "I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." How right she was.
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1. 'Roughing it on the Oregon Trail' by Diane Stanley
Time travel, twins, and the Oregon Trail? I'm interested! In Roughing it on the Oregon Trail, twins Liz and Lenny head back in time thanks to their grandmother's magic hat. A historically accurate look at day-to-day life on the Oregon Trail, the twins quickly learn about how much hard work and determination are needed when you're exploring the unknown.
2. 'Pioneer Cat' by William H. Hooks
In Pioneer Cat, follow along as 9-year-old Kate rescues an adorable kitty as she and her family make their way out west. There's only one problem: cats aren't allowed.
3. 'Great Pioneer Projects' by Rachel Dickinson
Everyone's looking for ways to keep bored kids entertained, and perhaps it's time for them to really see what life was like during the pioneer days. Enter Great Pioneer Projects and get your kids busy making everything from a replica log cabin to a map to guide their way on a new adventure.
4. 'The Adventures of Granny Clearwater and Little Critter' by Kimberly Willis Holt
Oh my! Granny and Little Critter have some serious adventures when they are accidentally thrown off the back of a covered wagon as their family heads west. Follow along as this fearsome duo catches an infamous thief, delivers mail on the pony express, pans for gold... the list goes on.
5. 'You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Pioneer!' by Jacqueline Morley
Become part of the story in the adventure tale, You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Pioneer. A few important questions first, however: are you tough enough to survive months on the trail, with little to eat and only your wagon for shelter? Gotta be strong out there in the Old West.
6. 'Welcome to Kirsten's World, 1854: Growing Up in Pioneer America' by Susan Sinnot
From the American Girl collection, this story tells the tale of 9-year-old Kirsten and her family, who immigrate from Sweden to Minnesota in the 1850s. Even better if your daughter has the Kirsten American Girl doll to go with it!
7. 'Wagons Ho!' by George Hallowell and Joan Holub
In Wagons Ho!, your child will get a side-by-side comparison of what it's like to move across the country in 1846 versus 2011. (Hint: it's very different)
8. 'If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon' by Ellen Levine
Your child can reflect on several big questions in If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon. Would you be in a wagon the whole time? How would you cross a river without a bridge? What would you eat? This may make quarantining in your home seem like a walk in the park.
9. 'Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier' by Stephen Krensky
While there are many fun and fanciful tales about Davy Crockett, his real life as an early American frontiersman was pretty incredible, too. Learn all about him in Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier. Here's hoping your child won't bring raccoon hats back to a trend.
10. 'The Little Pioneer' by Adam Hancher
This picture book is ideal for fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Follow along on one little girl's journey out west — what an adventure ahead.
12. 'Apples to Oregon: Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains' by Deborah Hopkinson
Ever wonder how apple seeds and other fruit seeds made it to the Pacific Northwest the first time? This "slightly true" story is a narrative of a brave pioneer father and his family, and how he introduced a whole range of new fruits to the people of Oregon for the first time.
11. 'A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840' by Barbara Greenwood
A blend of fiction and nonfiction, A Pioneer Sampler chronicles one year in the lives of a pioneer family. Readers are invited to try their hand at tasks like predicting the weather and churning butter to experience a bit of pioneer life. Think your kids will be able to do any of these projects? Only one way to find out.
13. 'Little House on the Prairie' by Laura Ingalls Wilder
In probably the most popular book of her series, Little House on the Prairie follows the Ingalls family as they make their way from Wisconsin to remote Kansas over 200 years ago. Strength, perseverance, and grit doesn't even begin to cover what this pioneering family needed to make it in the 1800s, yet those same skills are applicable in today's world.
14. 'Rachel's Journal: The Story of a Pioneer Girl' by Marissa Moss
Based on a true story, Rachel's Journal tells the tale of a young girl and her family's seven-month journey on the Oregon Trail from Illinois all the way to California.