Westward Expansion for Kids
frontier life & pioneer stories

It can be fun but tricky to teach about the westward expansion for kids. The topic is generally pretty fascinating to kids, but they can also have a hard time grasping the tremendous hardships endured and courage required. Below are gripping, kid-friendly books on the westward expansion for kids -- from the Santa Fe Trail and Oregon trail to life on the frontier for children and adults.

The children's books below do a great job of capturing the adventure, hardships, rewards and struggles of life on the pioneer trail. Books for younger children are appropriately more upbeat, and it is not until upper elementary and middle school grades that students begin to read accounts of the terrible hardships and tragedies that some pioneers endured.

Hopefully the pioneer/Oregon Trail history books below will be a good resource as you plan your unit. Note: The interest age increases as you move down the page.

Best Books for Teaching
Westward Expansion for Kids

Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails
by Verla Kay
Kindergarten - 3rd grade



Dandelion
by Eve Bunting
Kindergarten - 3rd grade



Rough, Tough Charley
by Verla Kay
Kindergarten - 3rd grade



Apples to Oregon
by Deborah Hopkinson
Kindergarten - 4th grade



Boss of the Plains
The Hat That Won the West
by Laurie Carlson
Kindergarten - 4th grade



The Adventures of Granny Clearwater & Little Critter
by Kimberly Holt
1st grade - 3rd grade



Great Pioneer Projects
You Can Build Yourself
by Rachel Dickinson
2nd grade - 6th grade



The Quilt-Block History of Pioneer Days
with Projects Kids Can Make
by Mary Cobb
2nd grade - 6th grade



Rachel's Journal
The Story of a Pioneer Girl
by Marissa Moss
3rd grade - 6th grade



Heading West
Life with the Pioneers --21 Activities
by Pat McCarthy
4th grade - 7th grade



Going West
Journey on a Wagon
Train to Settle a Frontier Town
by Carol Johmann
3rd grade - 4th grade



Westward Ho!
An Activity Guide to the Wild West
by Laurie Carlson
3rd grade - 6th grade



Daily Life in a Covered Wagon
by Paul Erickson
3rd grade - 5th grade



A Pioneer Sampler
Daily Life of a Pioneer Family 1840
5th grade - 8th grade



How to Get Rich on the
Oregon Trail

4th grade - 8th grade



chapter books about pioneer life


Meg's Prairie Diary (My America series)
by Kate McMullan
2nd grade - 5th grade




Joshua's Oregon Trail Diary
(My America series)
by Patricia Hermes
2nd grade - 5th grade




American Girl Josefina, 1824
(American Girl Books)
by Valerie Tripp
3rd grade - 5th grade




American Girl Kirsten, 1854
(American Girl Books)
by Janet Shaw
3rd grade - 5th grade




Riddle of the Prairie Bride
(American Girl's History Mysteries)
by Kathryn Reiss
3rd grade - 6th grade




Enemy in the Fort
(American Girl's History Mysteries)
by Sarah Masters Buckey
3rd grade - 5th grade




Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie
The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie
3rd grade - 7th grade




All the Stars in the Sky
The Santa Fe Trail Diary of Florrie
(Dear America series)
4th grade - 7th grade




Our Only May Amelia
by Jennifer Holm
4th grade & Up




Boston Jane:  An Adventure
by Jennifer Holm
4th grade & Up

plus other series books
Boston Jane: The Claim
Boston Jane: Wilderness Days




Caddie Woodlawn
by Carol Ryrie Brink
4th grade - 7th grade




Mr. Tucket
(Tucket Adventures Book 1)
By Gary Paulsen

4th grade - 7th grade


plus other series books
Tucket's Travels, Call Me Francis
Tucket, Tucket's Ride, Tucket's

Home, and Tucket's Gold




The Journal of Jedediah Barstow
An Emigrant on the Oregon Trail
(My Name is America series)
4th grade - 8th grade




West to a Land of Plenty
Diary of Teresa Angelino Viscardi,
New York to Idaho Territory, 1883

(Dear America series)
4th grade - 8th grade




The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds
The Donner Party Expedition
(My Name is America series)
5th grade - 8th grade




My Face to the Wind
The Diary of Sarah Jane Price, a Prairie Teacher

by Jim Murphy
5th grade - 8th grade




The Journal of Joshua Loper
A Black Cowboy, The Chisholm Trail (My Name is America)
5th grade - 8th grade




Land of the Buffalo Bones
An English Girl in Minnesota 1873

by Marion Bauer
4th grade - 8th grade




Which Way to the Wild West?
Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About America's Westward Expansion
5th grade - 9th grade




Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Larson
6th grade - 8th grade




The Legend of Bass Reeves
by Gary Paulsen
6th grade & Up




The Staircase
by Ann Rinaldi
6th grade & Up



In addition to this list about books on the westward expansion for kids, we also have more specific lists set during this era, including lists about the Transcontinental Railroads, the Orphan Trains, and the Gold Rush.


We LOVE getting likes!  It makes us want to keep making these lists!  :) Please press LIKE if you found this information helpful. And help us spread the word by sharing the page.


Or Pin this page to your Pinterest board to share it and remember it for later. :)